‘Sin’ vs. ‘Sins’ , and the ‘spiritual muscle building’ game

Many folks in the Church really like to keep busy by pumping their ‘spiritual muscles’. They’ve substituted the Charles Atlas (I’m dating myself) poster on the wall, for a poster of Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount. 80's Muscle Mom # 2

I believe that Jesus’ sermon was a re-presenting of God’s perfect Law, wherein no one would be left with any wiggle room at all when it came to living their lives in the manner that God demands. 

However, many well meaning preachers and teachers in the Church today believe that it is proper  to convince Christians that they can become better Christians by addressing their sins. ( a short audio clip of less than 10 minutes).

Is it possible to become a better Christian by addressing your sins?

Thanks for your input!

24 Responses

  1. Sin and confession—this is excellent!

    This is why it is so important to return to our sin every day through our baptism. It’s an understanding of the seriousness of sin. John the Baptist cried out, “Repent! For the time is near.” Baptism. It is not a wonder why these were the focuses of John. This was the message before Jesus appeared on the scene. In the book of Matthew, God’s Word takes us immediately to repenting and baptism. Jesus’ ministry did not start until He was baptized.

    Sin is a “state of being” — sinner and saint simultaneously. Amen.

    I like his words, ‘the desire to repent’. Desire. Humble enough to repent (daily).

    Baptism: dying to self and drowning sin. Daily. Repenting daily.

    I love this sermon. I love this part of God’s Word. All these things are gifts from God, and when they are used together (and understood), they are the true treasures of God’s Church.

    It is so important this world comes to understand that man has nothing to offer.

    I am not sure I understand the last comment, ‘that we are praying against our selves in the prayer’.

  2. Magdalene,

    Glad you like this portion of one of Pastor Marks’ classes.

    I had never really thought of John theBaptist and his emphasis on…well…baptism, in quite the same light as you put it. Or , about Jesus’ ministry not really starting until after He was baptised.. Strong points, indeed!

    Even the desire to repent comes from Him. The Holy Spirit leads us to repentance.

    In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches us to pray “against ourselves”. What I think Pastor Mark means there, is that we naturally want to ask God for the things that we want (our will be done), but Jesus teaches us to pray, ‘thy will be done’…you do as you see fit Lord, in spite of what I may want. “…as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Again here, we are asking God to something that we would normally not want to do ourselves…forgive others. So we are in effect…praying the opposite in the Lord’s Prayer from our real desires. Praying against ourselves. I hope I didn’t make matters worse with explanation!

    Thanks Magdalene!

    I headed off to work. Long day today! Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to ‘the old Adam’ a bit later on.

    Grace and Peace! (this would have been a great spot for the cross, which I haven’t had the time to learn how to do yet…but I will)
    – Steve

  3. By the law, just as an aside. I’m going to see my pastor and his two sons play the blues at a nightclub this evening.

    How’s that for Christian freedom!

    – Steve M.

  4. That should be ‘way’ and not…’law’.

    These lagalists (you know who you are) have got the ‘law’ on my brain…not good.

    – S.

  5. I can’t sphell, eether.

    – S.

  6. Ahh…Freudian slips! It shows your true Lutheran colors. 😉

    To get back to your original question – it depends on how you define “better” Christian. Is it becoming more Christlike? Living a more successful life because/in spite of your Christianity? …

  7. Hannah,

    You caught me! OK, Ok,… I’m really a legalist and I’m gonna whip you all into shape! Now get busy!

    But seriously, folks…

    You have raised some good questions, Hannah.

    What do you think? (Whew…I got out of that one…)

    – Steve

  8. Hey!

    How’d that smiley face get in there!?

    I didn’t learn how to do that yet!

  9. Steve,

    You really need to learn how to make that blushing happy face. 😉

  10. Steve,

    You mentioned the Holy Spirit leads us to repentance. Amen. I recall Pastor Anderson mentioning having the “desire” to repent. Because the Holy Spirit works on our heart (when doing wrong). Also, last night when reading Luther’s Small Catechism… the word “sorrow” caught my eye. Re: Baptism w/water “… It signifies that daily the old person in us with all our sins and evil desires is to be drowned through SORROW for sin and repentance, and that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

    Sorrow and desire shows the state of the heart when sin appears in our life.

  11. Magdalene,

    I’m going to learn all that stuff (crosses and happy faces and the like) next week. It could take me awhile. It took me nine days to learn how to turn this comp-u- tater on and off.

    You are so right about our sorrow and desire to repent. The law and then the Holy Spirit bring us to this point after sin has been exposed. (It’s always there…it just needs to be exposed…that’s the job of the law).

    “And this happens daily” (very important!)

    Thank you Magdalene!

    – Steve

  12. Oh, come on, Steve! That’s no way to answer MY questions! And don’t pretend it’s a brand-new Second Use of the Law either. You blog about theology. You answer my questions. 😀

  13. Hannah,

    All right…you asked for it.

    “Can you become a better Christian by addressing your sins.”? No!

    You can’t become a better ‘Christian’. You will never be a better Christian than you were at the moment you were baptised. Everything you needed was given to you right then and there, lock, stock, and barrel.

    Can you become a better ‘person’, by addressing your sins? Absolutely! When we live the way God wants us to, we keep ourselves out of hot water, and we are better able to take advantage of our freedom and live , making the best possible use of the gifts that God has given us.

    But the tricky part here, is the focus. If we tip-toe around and concentrate on our performance, we can lose the freedom and spontaneity that comes from trusting that in Christ we are totally free to act on behalf of our neighbor, and that the religious project is no more.

    Concentrating on one’s performance(in light of God’s law) usually leads to either despair, pride, or phoniness.

    What to do then?

    What do you want to do? You are free to do anything you want! St. Paul tells us that “in Christ all things are lawful.” But he then says that “all things are not profitable.”

    So we are free in Christ to do…or not, without worrying about the consequences of an angry God…just the consequences of our own actions.

    OK Hannah…I hope you are satisified. (putting this pea brain to work on a Sunday afternoon!) (picture smiley face here) (still haven’t looked at how to do that yet)

    – Steve

  14. Quite satisfied! On how to make smileys – to make an ordinary smiley face, type “: )” with no quotes or spaces. “: D” is a grin. “; )” is a winking face. Etc.

  15. Thanks Hannah! 😀

  16. It worked!!! :D:D:D

    Hey…this is fun:D

  17. Steve,

    Well done. 😉

  18. Magadalene,

    You were my first instructor! Thanks! The cross is next! 😀

  19. Spellded your naime wrawg, Magdalene.

    Sawry! ;D

  20. I need work on this stuff….

  21. Cross†

    Hit the option key and the letter T

    Testing †

  22. Steve,

    If all I teach you is a happy face and a cross… that’s a good thing. 😉

  23. This one is good. I agree.

    I have in the past struggled with the idea of Paul stating your saved by faith alone through Christ alone and James stating that faith without works is dead — much like Martin Luther did.

    I tend to see Paul making a very “profound” statement to us regarding How we should live in our relationship with God and James making a “practical” statement to his brothers in Christ about how to encourage each other to make godly choices. I mean, after all, how do we talk to our kids without talking to them about making good choices that are biblical — we can’t. However, in the end we dont have to worry. God is in control. Encourage other to make Godly choices but via the Gospel and Cross we dont have to worry.


    Some people seem confused by this God does the work and we encourage each others.

  24. “…God does the work and we encourage each other.”

    It ceratainly can be confusing, especially when the guy up front has a list of things for you to do.

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