January 17, 2021
Grace and peace to you in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Suppose a young woman came to you, looking a little nervous, and asked, “Can a Christian have an abortion?” How would you answer?
Now think again, because you gave the wrong answer. How could I know that? I know that because you probably answered in one of two ways. Either you said, “No. A Christian cannot have an abortion.” or you said, “Yes. A Christian can have an abortion.” Both answers are wrong. The reason is what we are going to explore together today. The correct answer lies in the context of the situation. As in many things context counts. To answer this young woman you have to know her context. You need to know why she is asking. The correct answer to such a question can only be, “Why do you want to know?”
What if that young woman had been lost in the mess of this world? She believed the lie that there was an easy out. She made mistakes in life, did things she wishes she had not done, and has now come to you because the Holy Spirit has given her faith and a desire to change her life. She wants to join a church and live as God intended her to. She has also discovered that the church, at least this church, tells people that abortion is a horrible sin.
Her question was really, “Can God forgive me for things I’ve done in my past?” She just didn’t phrase it that way. If you answer, “ no.” then you are telling her that for her, there is no forgiveness, there is no mercy, there is no hope. You are condemned her for all eternity. Would that ever be our message to someone who wants the assurance of God’s forgiveness?
On the other hand, what if that young woman is a Christian but hasn’t been living the life a Christian should live? What if she is looking for what the world calls an easy out? If you say, “yes, there is no sin to great for God to forgive.” Then you have just given her permission to do something wrong. Would that ever be our message?
This Sunday, which we call Life Sunday, is a day when we focus on the countless lives that have been ended under the guise of names like: convenience, conservation, compassion, and care. This act of ending the life of unborn children or aged seniors is a terrible thing which plagues our world. The problem is today’s subject requires two sermons. There is just no way around it. Because there are two kinds of people this affects.
Let’s start with the first scenario I brought to you. Are there really people living in this world who do not know that ending an unborn child’s life is wrong? Are there really people like that? Yes! Sadly many so called Christian denominations teach that it is not a sin to kill a child. They teach that conscience is greater than God’s Word and if your conscience says it is the best choice than ending your child’s life is okay in God’s eyes too.
These churches throw out God’s Word. Claim it is only fairy stories and pixie tales with good moral value. Then they add and remove anything they choose because it is all just the work of lesser enlightened people.
Beyond that there are many people who have grown up in homes without church and with no Bible. It is true that people do not know God’s will even on matter like this? As foreign as that might be to your life, and your understanding, the answer is, yes there are people who do not know. As a church, we should be careful not to crush tender spirit as they come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Look at what God teaches. In Isaiah 42:
He will not break off a damaged cattail.
He will not even put out a smoking wick.
He will faithfully bring about justice.1
What about a woman who has been married and divorced, five times and is now living with yet another man? She is probably in an habitually abusive situation which keeps repeating itself. How should the Church treat her? What would Jesus say to someone like that? Some might be inclined to think there is no hope. Don’t bother wasting your time.
We actually know how Jesus would treat her because the Bible gives it to us on that very example. In John chapter 4 Jesus encounters the woman we only know as “the woman at the well.” Jesus is patient, loving, and gentle with those who break God’s Law unknowingly. For those who don’t know their actions are wrong Jesus over and over again says to those who learn the truth and repent, ‘I will not hold these things against you.’ However, now that you know what is right change the way you think and act. Now it is time to do what is right in God’s eyes. Now it is time to start acting like one of His holy children.
That is not to say they are sinless in their ignorance of the Law, but it does show us that God is merciful. He judges justly, and ignorance of the Law, might be an excuse. However, we are commanded to teach the truths and promises of God.2 We are commanded by God to teach His Law and give people the knowledge to better distinguish between right and wrong.
We do that because God did not give us these Laws to be mean to us or to keep good things from us. He gave them because He loves us and wants what is best for us. God, being God, knows what is best. God, being God, should be the One we trust most. He loves us perfectly. He knows far more than we do, about the world and even ourselves.
So is there forgiveness for unknown sins? Absolutely! No matter how bad the sin God’s forgiveness is greater. There is nothing God cannot forgive, nothing God will not forgive, except purposeful and willful disobedience. For those who know what is right, and what is wrong, and choose to defy God’s love and will there is no forgiveness until there is purposeful, and willful, repentance. Until such a person changes the way they are acting God has said, ‘you are not forgiven.’
That brings us to part two of the sermon. What about sins that are done knowing it is against God’s Law? Paul was dealing with that very subject when he wrote to the churches. There were some in the Church who were teaching, if we receive God’s grace through the forgiveness of sins then wanting to receive as much of God’s grace as possible we should sin all the more, sin up a storm, look for new ways to sin, that way we can receive all the more of God’s grace. Listen to what Paul said:
Should we continue to sin so that God’s kindness will increase? That is unthinkable! As far as sin is concerned, we have died. So how can we still live under sin’s influence?3
When we know God’s will we should to obey it. When a person knowingly chooses to defy God’s Word, knowing that He has said it is wrong, such a person is spitting in the face of God. We say the words most every Sunday, “If we say we have no sin the truth is not in us.4” For such sins there is no forgiveness. You are not forgiven if you choose to sin purposefully defying God. Listen to Paul’s words:
Do you have contempt for God, who is very kind to you, puts up with you, and deals patiently with you? Don’t you realize that it is God’s kindness that is trying to lead you to Him, and change the way you think and act?
Since you are stubborn and do not want to change you are adding to the wrath that God will have against you on that day when God vents His anger. At that time God will reveal that His decisions are fair. He will pay all people back for what they have done.
He will give everlasting life to those who search for glory, honor, and immortality by persisting in doing what is good. He will bring anger and fury on those who, in selfish pride, refuse to believe the truth and who follow what is wrong.
There will be suffering and distress for every person who does evil.
Those are powerful words. Those are God’s own Words right out of God’s own book.
When I asked you the question, “Can a Christian get an abortion?” you gave an answer. The wrong answer. Now I hope you see why. The Church and all Christians must always present two messages on the subject of sin. The first is God’s Law must be obeyed. The second is there is forgiveness for all sin.
There is forgiveness for anyone who genuinely, in their heart, wants to be what God desires for them. That is true no matter where they’ve been or what they’ve done. There is no sin too great for God to forgive except the one sin the Bible calls the unforgivable sin. The sin against the Holy Spirit. The sin for which a person knowingly refuses to repent; the sin for which a person refuses apologize to God.
There is one final and very important point that needs to be addressed. That is a conscience that is troubled by past mistakes. The name Satan5 it means Accuser. The Devil will plague people with lies, worry and with their past. He will tell you that you might not be forgiven. He will remind you of your past and tell you that you are not worthy of God’s love.
That can be profoundly true on the matter of killing unborn children. I have met two women, both near 70 years old, who never knew peace because they made this mistake. They believed the lie that ending their child’s life would fix the problems. They spent an entire life never feeling they could be free of the guilt.
That is what Satan does he accuses you. On the matter of abortion, or any other matter, if you know someone that is plagued with such thoughts, feeling like they are not fully forgiven, feeling guilt for sins God has said are washed away, you have a message to give them.
This place, this church, is a holy place. A house dedicated to the God. This altar is a place where we focus our worship as we come together to honor Him. Anyone, a member of this church or not, can come here with me, in absolute privacy, and we will stand before this altar and have the forgiveness of God pronounced over them.
Satan has no right to accuse anyone who repents from the heart. When he attacks, when he accuses, God’s Word will send him away. I will stand with anyone at God’s altar to bring that forgiveness and freedom to them.
As we all should stand with every person who returns to God in Jesus’ name.
41 John 1:8
5‘Satan’ is a Hebrew word that means, ‘accuser.’