There is a voice cry on the wilderness!
John is “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” And it does seem like a lone voice these days. So many voices now are saying something quite different. What God calls sin; these days is no longer seen as sin. Rather, sins of the flesh now are seen as perfectly normal and are even celebrated. Leaving your marriage, not even bothering to get married–this is the new normal. And people accept it
But this is not just out there in the culture. The culture has infiltrated the church. We have become indoctrinated by the culture. Now there are voices in the church that want to excuse and condone sin and explain away the call to live a righteous living.
And there are people in the church, even in the Lutheran church, who are advocating this approach. It goes something like this: Of course, God’s Law, the Ten Commandments, condemns us as sinners. We are all poor miserable sinners. I sin in thought, word, and deed. We all do. Even if I have a sinful thought, I am a sinner, and I am just as guilty as the axe murderer or the serial adulterer. Well, OK. Fair enough. That’s true, as far as it goes. But here’s where the soft antinomianism goes off track. It’s when they say, since we all sin, it really doesn’t matter what we do. I don’t have to struggle against sin, since I’m going to sin again anyway. And besides, God will forgive me. So, what difference does it make?
John the Baptist will not let us fall for this line of thinking. And so, he comes around here during this Advent season, telling us to get our heads back on straight. “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” The call to repentance is more than just a fleeting feeling of “Yeah, I know I’m a sinner,” and then that’s it. Poor miserable sinners do poor miserable sins, and we need to confess those, call them for what they are, and then turn from those wrong paths and get back on the straight road.
The fruit of the Spirit will be in accord with God’s Law. The Law of God is good and wise. God’s commandments are the best way for us to live. Our Creator knows best. And the Spirit will lead us in those paths. There is no disagreement between the Holy Spirit and the Ten Commandments. Indeed, as new people in Christ we delight in God’s Law. We know it’s what’s best for us, and we ask for God’s help to walk in his ways.
license to sin. Instead, repent, recognize your sins for what they are, confess them, and ask God for help to resist them.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”: That’s what John is telling us today. It’s especially fitting as an Advent message. For Advent is about the kingdom of heaven being right at hand. The kingdom is coming. Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead. Are you ready? When he comes, “he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” How will you escape the wrath to come? “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” What will be your plea on the Day of Judgment? It won’t be because you had Abraham or Luther or Walther as your father. That won’t work. And Abraham and Luther and Walther would be the first to say so.
Now there is one plea that will work on the Day of Judgment. And that is to plead the blood of Jesus. He is your only hope. And he is a sure hope. You don’t have to wonder if that will be enough. It will be. For the blood of Jesus covers all your sins, every one of them. Those impure thoughts you have. Those harsh and hasty words you’ve spoken. Your sinful acts, behaviors small and large that go against God’s will. They’re all covered by the blood of Christ. Covered and cleansed and fully atoned for.
. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” We know this is for our good, and it’s something we need to hear. Our king is coming, and repentance is the fitting way to prepare his way. Repent now.
Remain blessed! Rev David Rex Orgen