Thank you Pastor Chris Boyd!
Grace and peace to you my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Amen.
Let me begin with this, You are Saved. You are indeed Saved. Through Christ and only through Christ, each and every one of us is Saved.
Now let me ask, what does that mean? It means that through Christ you have been forgiven and are now Saints, not because of anything you have done but because of what He has done. No amount of good works or merit or following the Law led you to becoming a Saint, for by our own devices none of these are possible, but because you are now Saints through Christ you are finally capable of doing works that are deemed, in the eyes of God, Good.
Yet, just because you are a Saint does not mean you are incapable of sinning or that the Law no longer applies to you. Christ forgave us our sins and broke the chains that forced us into sin, but he did put us into new chains that force us not to sin, but gave us the free will to choose on our own to follow or turn from God. Thus, though we are Saints through Christ, we are still sinners in need of the constant forgiveness from Christ and the Eucharist, the daily bread, which spiritually satisfied our aching hearts.
I am reminded of an odd theology that sprung up during the reformation with great popularity only to be rightly denounce as utter heresy. This heretical line of thinking, unfortunately, still exists today: If you are saved then you cannot sin. Such an odd thing, for it implies that after your baptism nothing that comes out of you is a sin. The first consequence that comes to my mind of this theology is: what if you do sin and know you committed a sin, does that mean your baptism was invalid? Guess we might as well rebaptize. What if you lost your faith? Does that mean your baptism was invalid? Goes we might as well rebaptize. What if you were unable to affirm your faith in cases such as infant baptism? Guess we might as well rebaptize. Such a line a thinking is detrimental for it leads us into questioning our own baptism, which is not an act of Man, another heresy, but an act of God.
Last week I preached about things of Man and things of God; Baptism is most definitely a thing of God, and no amount of sin you commit will ever desecrate this sacred act that God did on your behalf. This is why we baptize infants, because it is not a thing of Man but a thing of God.
Another consequence to this heretical belief is that you ignore the sins you are committing.
I'm perfect, I can't sin.
But you just sinned.
No I didn't.
But what about...
Hush, I'm a Saint, I can't sin, every action I do is Good.
I guess, it's not enough that the Bible, through 1 John, clearly states, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
A similar misunderstanding includes the belief that because Christ forgive us our sins then the Law has been abolished. There's no longer the Law, therefore there is no longer sin; as a Christian, all my actions are acceptable... this is no different then the heresy I just mention for both basically state that because I am a Christian I can do anything, I can do no wrong, and anything I do is acceptable. Wrong. Christ came not to abolish the Law, nor to add to the Law, but to fulfill the Law. The Law still exists. Sin still exists. You are still a Sinner. And Sin is still bad, evil, against God.
Yet, despite all of this, God has blessed us through the Church a most amazing revelation, you are not alone in your sin. For were as the Church is an assembly of Saints, for through Christ, and only through Him, we are all Saints, it is also an assembly of Sinners. No one in the Church is perfect except the Head, Christ, but because we are of the Church and through Christ brothers and sisters, we are not alone in our imperfection. We look out for each other, we point out each others' sins, we help lift each other up, we forgive each other, and we remind each other of Christ who is in our lives.
In our first reading, Ezekiel, God is basically telling us that if He says that something is a sin and we do not warn our fellow brother or sister that what they are doing is a sin then blood is on our hands. But out of love toward our brother and sister, if we see them live a life of great sin then by warning them and preaching scripture to them they may see the errors of their way. And if they don't turn from their sins, you would prove yourself a loving Christian and blood is not on your hands.
And in the Gospel of St Matthew, that when a brother or sister in Christ sins against you you let them know, though at first in private. It is not a thing of the Church to allow our brothers and sisters to wallow in sin, for if they sinned against you then they are creating a divide almost as if they, a brother, are lost to you. But as members of the one Holy united catholic, which means united, Church we desire union, thus, if your brother listens to you and repents of their sin, they you have truly gained your brother back. And if they don't, you bring in more members of the church, slowly, not jumping the gun, all for the sake of union, and if they still don't listen then you expand to the Church, then the Deans, and then the Bishop. But before all of this, the first thing you do is talk in private, so as to not hold this sin that was committed against you in your heart and to swiftly allow your brother the chance to repent.
But what if after all this they still don't listen? Then you treat your brother as if they are Gentile or a tax collector. That is not to say that you ignore them or treat them like lepers, but you treat them with even more care and by preaching the Word to them even more so, for they are a lost brother, but through the Word, hopefully, they will be found.
All of this is done out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, for whereas we love the sinner, and all of us are still sinners, because we love the sinner, truly love that is, then we also hate the sin. In fact, if we were to accept the actions, the sins of the sinner, then that would be the same as truly hating the sinner, for no one who truly loves a sinner would accept said sinner's sins.
But that sounds judgy. It does. But what about when Jesus said, “thou shall not judge”? Boy do you sound like a politician. Whereas Jesus did say that, there is more to what he said and you are taking his words out of context. This is what he said in Matthew, chapter 7, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Basically, Jesus is not saying do not judge your brother, but you should be willing to judge, and if you aren't willing to be judged then you should not be judging others. In fact, proclaiming, “thou shall not judge” at others who are judging is in of itself an act of judging for you are judging those who judge. Remember the heresies I mentioned in the beginning of this sermon? Those are the people who would say, “how dare you judge me.”
Now I am not advocating for a malicious form of judging, nor a human/worldly form of judging. All I'm preaching for, in accordance will Scripture, is that we love our neighbor, and through such love, we have a genuine concern for our Christian brothers and sisters while warning each other of our sins, not to put people down but to lift each other up in the name of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus, through the grace of God, I pray that as the Church, we continue to walk with each other as Saints. And, as Sinners, help each other out as we walk together in the light of the Father, accepting His forgiveness and cleansing through the Blood of the Son, and accepting the blessed union of the Church through the Holy Spirit, “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also.”