John 9:41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
This issue is enormously important, and it trips up countless people. We don’t like to admit our weaknesses, our inabilities, our guilt. That gets directly in the way of our receiving the strength, the abilities, the forgiveness that God has for us. We speak of “meeting felt need” in our interactions with others, but we have to recognize our own need in interacting with God. Just yesterday in the message I was talking about how ignoring God, not to mention directly disobeying Him, destines us for hell. There were people here who have not yet committed themselves to Christ, and I think they hung up a bit on that point. They have a lot of company! Japan, having a “shame culture” rather than a “sin culture,” strongly discourages people from acknowledging personal responsibility before God. That leads to such things as including convicted war criminals among those commemorated at the Yasukuni Shrine. The Bible, in sharp contrast, is all about honesty before God, with David confessing his sin in Psalm 51 and Jesus talking about the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and a repentant tax collector. (Luke 18:9-14) If you don’t acknowledge you’re headed the wrong direction, you aren’t going to turn around, and that’s what repentance is all about. The Japanese word for repentance, kui aratame, is a compound that explicitly says, “regret and re-do.” It is sad indeed that so many people have trouble doing just that, not only in Japan but around the world.
I have had trouble with pride and conceit most of my life, so I don’t have the high ground on this issue. I must not, and indeed cannot, look down on people who balk at admitting their sin, but I also must not fail to speak the truth to them in love. I can forgive sin, as it is committed against me, but I must not excuse sin, in others or especially in myself. I must not go around claiming that I have spiritual eyesight while selectively closing my eyes to specific sins, in myself or in others. I need to seek God for Him to enable me to see things as He does, to see through the lies of the devil in order to lead people out of the devil’s traps, as well as walk out of them myself.
Father, thank You for all You did yesterday. I pray that the impact You had on those ladies would remain and bear abundant fruit. I pray that everyone in this church would continue to grow as You intend, to be and do all that You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!