“But the tax collector stood at a distance.
He would not even look up to heaven,
but beat his breast and said,
`God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
There is nothing to be proud of in sin. Nor may it be treated lightly. Scripture is quite clear that sin is a grievous and separating offence against God. It is only through the love that is fixed in the holiness of God that sin can be forgiven.
Apart from Jesus Christ there has been, and there is, no one who does not sin each and every day of their lives. The tax collector was perfectly correct when He felt himself to be unworthy of approaching God. He stood at a distance and, beating himself upon the breast – over the heart – said, “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” He showed both an understanding of sin and a heart-felt response to its consequences.
By the grace of God He allows us to see and to feel the pain of sin, and to know its separating consequences as it comes between us and Him as well as between us and our true selves. This allows us to look at Him with awe and wonder as He reminds us that, as Christians, that terrible separation has been done away with by the Lord Jesus in His death and resurrection.
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)
The psalmist teaches us that our confession of sin is not merely a clinical acknowledgement of having slipped up but something far more significant. It should in fact at times bring us to tears, or close to tears, as we see our own failures in the light of God as well as the horror resulting from the sin around us.
“a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17)
A broken and contrite heart is the true response to sin. This should bring us to the Lord in heartfelt sorrow and in tearful wonder that He, our great and most holy God, has provided a way for us to be forgiven and redeemed – because He loves us so much .
Don’t put up with sin in your life. Ask God every day to reveal it and help you to confess and turn away from it.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”