When a Christian Commits Gross Sin

By Grantley Morris

Some Christians find it easier to accept God’s forgiveness for their pre-conversion sins, than to believe God would fully cleanse and forgive them of ‘gross’ or repeated sin after becoming a Christian. But since the Holy Lord forgave while you are his enemy, how much more will he forgive now that you are his friend!

It is true that for the person to whom much has been given, much is required. It is also true, however, that God’s offer and conditions for forgiveness do not change after we are saved. Cleansing is available through and only through the shed blood of our Savior, and our request for forgiveness must be accompanied by repentance, which involves regret that the sin was committed and a genuine desire never to do such a thing again.

You know how strongly Jesus attacked hypocrisy. He sees right through sham repentance – asking forgiveness when you have every intention of continuing to sin, should the opportunity arise, or being so stupid as to be pleased that you had sinned. A death-bed repentance, for example, though possible, is probably less common than is often thought, because a person who realizes he is dying knows his life of sin is over anyhow. He could be quite pleased he sinned and now imagines he can have the best of both worlds – a life of sin on earth and an eternity of pleasure in heaven. God is not mocked.

Nevertheless, if you genuinely wish your whole life (past, present and future) were sin-free, forgiveness is fully available to the Christian and non-Christian alike, regardless of the gravity of the sin. If God so loved you as to forgive you while you were his enemy, how much more does he long to forgive you now that you are his blood-bought child.

John wrote to Christians, ‘My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:1-2).

If anyone repeatedly sins against us and keeps repenting, Jesus insisted that we must forgive that person over and over and over and over. (Scriptures) Dare we accuse Almighty God of hypocrisy? He asks us to be that forgiving of those who repeatedly repent because that’s the way he forgives us.

Scripture provides us with many examples of God forgiving his people of ‘gross’ sin. Let’s examine a few.

From crushing defeat to eternal fame

We find him lurking in the shadows of Scripture. He was a breath of fresh air in a whirlwind. John Mark was bad news. In the human race he led the field from go to woe. He has often been identified with Christianity’s first streaker – the man who blurred through Gethsemane’s garden with the raw grace of a plucked chicken, leaving behind his clothes and his Savior (Mark 14:51-52). More humiliations were to follow.

His unflattering nickname, stub-fingered, suggests he was physically impaired. To this he added a handicap of his own making: he was branded a deserter – a second time.

When the pressure mounts, the last thing you need is for a trusted companion to abandon you. That’s what Mark did to Paul and Barnabas.

His desertion seems to have deeply hurt Paul. The apostle was adamant that hanging out with this dodo was a no-no. Barnabas, who always stood up for the under-dog , defended his cousin Mark. The result was a rift between old friends; the shattering of a great missionary team (Acts 15:37-39). We never hear of Barnabas again.

One look at ‘stump-finger’s’ yellow face and you knew this jinx had had mistake and eggs for breakfast again. Whenever this egg-head cracked, everyone got egg on their face. Just what the church needs! He must have felt as blue as a browned off white man seeing red because he’s accused of being yellow.

Mark could have drowned in self-pity. He could have resented Paul. He could have turned back to Judaism. Instead, he redoubled his efforts, eventually being recognized even by Paul as having an outstanding ministry (2 Timothy 4:11; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24). Peter also spoke affectionately of him (1 Peter 5:13). As writer of possibly the earliest gospel and a primary source of Matthew and Luke, Mark’s contribution even to today’s church is beyond measure. This planet is a better place today because nineteen centuries ago a ‘no-hoper’ called stub-fingered decided to tough it out.

Knowing our weaknesses, our loving Father has preserved many such stories for us to gain strength.

‘Then will I teach transgressors your ways,’ crooned David. When? After a calamitous moral fall (Psalm 51: title, 3-5, 12-13).

‘Simon ... feed my sheep’ (John 21:17). When? After denying his Savior.

‘He slew at his death more than he slew in his life’ (Judges 16:30, paraphrase). When? After Samson’s greatest humiliation.

Samson and David each knew the horror of spiritual failure. On the crest of their vocation, they plunged to abominable depths. Their lapses were inexcusable. Their ministries were desecrated. Yet they refused to dwell in defeat. They were failures for a moment, but they were overcomers forever. Grasping God’s hand of forgiveness, they clambered to new heights for the exaltation of the One who washed them clean.

Oppression crushed Simon the rock into sand. On the brink of ministry, after years of grooming, he blew it. He lied. He invoked a curse on himself. He disowned his Lord (Matthew 26:74). Yet though it rocked him, this one-time rock didn’t peter. Empowered by his Savior, he again turned to stone.

Though the righteous – that’s you and me in Christ Jesus – fall seven times, they rise again. That’s a promise (Proverbs 24:16, see also Psalm 37:23-24).

It was just a hair-cut
For the plaything of Delilah;
And just a prayer-cut
For Peter the denier.
Strong they dozed
But weak arose,
And knew it not.

Men destroyed by fatal cuts;
Left to wallow in their ruts;
Left with blame
And haunting shame,
In sin to rot.

A seed so small and barely sown
Meant to die, but how it’s grown!
Things so small
Grow so tall,
But marvel not.

If sin can grow,
So can prayer;
If prayers will flow,
So will hair.
With faith restored
Hope will soar,
And blunders blot.

His repentance real,
The victim of Delilah,
Had victories still.
And the spineless Christ-denier
Shed his shame
And became
The church’s rock.

Please Take this to Heart:
If you spoke with me face to face I could only keep pleading with you to read every webpage in this series. I know of no other way to help you. Even if you find reading very difficult and time-consuming, I assure you that writing these webpages takes far more out of me than reading each page dozens of times takes out of you. Despite me being a painfully slow writer, I have provided you with so much about support in realizing that you are forgivable that if it were put in book form it would be 300 pages long. And none of this was done to convince myself. I have never even momentarily doubted Jesus’ willingness and power to forgive everyone. And I have never benefited the slightest financially nor ever hoped to benefit. I have done my utmost. It is now entirely up to you to prayerfully read it all however many times it takes to get it to sink deep into your spirit.

Next: I Will Never Leave Thee, Nor Forsake Thee

Not to be sold. © Copyright, 1997, Grantley Morris. Not to be copied in whole or in part without citing this entire paragraph. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings by Grantley Morris available free at the following internet site www.net-burst.net Freely you have received, freely give.

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Scripture quotations are from the New International Version © Copyright, 1978 by New York International Bible Society

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