Just a Mistake

 


There has been a subtle but distinct shift in recent years away from the word sin to the more palatable words mistake and imperfection. Ever notice that?
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Mistakes are not so difficult to own. We all make them. Dozens a day. We turn left when we should have turned right. We misspell our friend's name, stay up too late, and overdue the caffeine. We shrug and roll our eyes at our imperfections because after all, nobody's perfect. We say "sorry" and determine to do better. We even have friendly adjectives we put before the word mistake like honest, silly, or childish that lessen the responsibility even more. 

But this word-swap is dangerous.
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Jesus did not die on the cross for mistakes. Mistakes don't originate in the depravity of the heart; sin does. We cannot repent of a mistake because by its very definition it was unintentional. A mistake can be made by a good person with the best intentions. And deep down, that's what we mean when we admit we've "made mistakes." The word mistakes saves our pride, but pride is what got us into trouble with God in the first place. To save it is to continue to resist the Holy Spirit.

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Without owning sin, there can be no repentance. Without repentance there can be no forgiveness. In fact, the cross is a gross overstatement if our mere mistakes are the problem. Isn't there something brutal and unlikeable about a God who can't overlook a few mistakes?
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The word sin has a bold finality to it, like the ring of a judge's gavel. We recoil from it. We rush to excuse, explain, and soften the truth. And therein lies the serpent's weapon. Until we see our sin the way God does and turn from it with a vengeance, we cannot appreciate the cross. We can't truly love or worship a Savior until we recognize how desperately we need saving. We cannot come into agreement with God until we first agree with Him about our depravity. Jesus did not come to save "good people." He came to rescue sinners. How repulsive it must be to God to hear us primly admit our "mistakes" to Him rather than confess our sins. 

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When we try to approach God on our terms, admitting a few mistakes, but not repenting of sin, we become that "rich young ruler" who went away from Jesus very sad. Could that be a reason so many professing Christians have never found Jesus either?
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