A Journey Thru Acts 2: What Do You Do When You Sin? (1:12-26)
We continue for the second post to dig into the book of Acts as we build on the foundation of this local church from the sermons last year…what do we DO NOW? How are we to live out our new life in Christ Jesus? The Lord Jesus has given us a specific mission, not a general one—we must not get busy doing anything good but the specific best that He has called us to do. Not just increasing our odometer but arriving at His destination. To have true joy & peace as Christians, we must take up our cross & follow the Lord Jesus, not cross off our list & follow our dreams.
Two main points to make this post on this passage (though there is much to say!):
- What do you do when you sin? A look at both Judas and Peter…
- Filling the gaps—God the Father has prepared you, not just someone, to step into the good works that God Himself has prepared, in advance!, for you to do.
First, please click HERE for Acts 1:12-26 (NIV)
Point #1: What do you do when you sin?
In these verses in Acts 1, Luke mentions Judas who, after he sinned & betrayed the Lord Jesus, hung himself and died, his body bursting open. Judas understood what he did: “I have sinned, I have betrayed innocent blood!” (Matthew 27:4) An understanding of his sin, but no running to the Lord Jesus in repentance, no confessing to Christ and throwing himself at the Master’s feet for mercy & grace. Even though Judas was constantly around the Lord Jesus for three years and heard all of His teaching and saw all of His miracles, he knew the Truth but did not act on it: Judas simply handled the situation himself in his own way—suicide.
Two extreme/common responses to sin:
Penance—I’ve sinned; the Holy Spirit has shown me that I have sinned/am continually sinning. My conscience feels guilty, so I had better do some good deeds in order to calm/quiet my conscience and “get God off my back” and make this terrible guilty feeling go away.
- There is a sort of immediate calm you will get when do some good deeds, like eating a candy bar for energy–but the rush wears off and the candy bar crashes you, leaving you more tired than you previously were. Over time, doing good deeds to calm our conscience leads to self-confidence, trusting in ourselves & our good deeds to get us up when we fall, resting our consciences on the cinderblock of our deeds instead of the pillow of Christ’s death & resurrection. This also leads us to sin more: if we can write a check with our good deeds & get ourselves out of jail, then going to jail isn’t as big of a deal. It’s not that we aren’t supposed to do good deeds—we are! And it’s not that good deeds aren’t supposed to feel good to us—they often do! But we aren’t to do them as a penance or payment for our guilt when we sin—we do them as a thank You to the Lord Jesus for BEING the payment for our guilt & sin.
- We must learn to look at Christ Jesus and what He did for us, both when we are convicted of our sin and when we have had a “good day.” The more we look at the Lord Jesus & His death & resurrection, the less we will be comforted by our good deeds, just like no one strikes a match to provide some light when they are hanging outside at noon. But if we remain in the house with the curtains closed, we will chase after match after match that sparks quickly and dies quickly too—“look what I did, Jesus, did Ya see it? I’m good enough today! Let me light another one, look quickly!”
- Some non-Christians, without realizing it at first, WAIT to receive the Lord Jesus as their Savior & King until they have turned over a new leaf, cleaned up their act a little bit, etc. This is another form, like Judas, of “handling our sin in our own way.” Do you wait to see the doctor until you have LESS germs? Do you wait to go to the hospital until your health improves a bit? NO! Don’t do that to Christ—come to Him as you are & cry out to Him for forgiveness & new life & adoption…surrender & declare Him your King! “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick; I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). Cultural love says: “I wouldn’t change anything about you!” The Lord Jesus’ love says, “I died to change everything about you!”
Denial—what I did isn’t a sin, it’s not that big of a deal, it’s certainly not as bad as so and so or whats her name! My conscious doesn’t feel guilty at all—I live in grace, and grace means never feeling bad again about our mistakes! Hooray!
- That’s called spiritual leprosy—a deadening of the conscience so that we never feel bad about sin. This isn’t a sign of health but of deadly disease, just as physical leprosy is a loss of feeling/sensation in the nerve endings so that a person can touch a hot stove and feel no pain. That isn’t a blessing but a curse—that’s why limbs decay and fall off for those with leprosy. Physical leprosy is horrific; it’s spiritual counterpart is just as horrific.
- Jeremiah 6:15 and 8:12: “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” [This is our current culture, even within the church! We celebrate sin & justify it instead of grieving over it & confessing it…]
- Jeremiah 8:10-12: From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. 11They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.” [“Your sin isn’t a big deal!” the false prophets proclaimed, though the LORD said their sin was a big deal!]
- Lamentations 2:14: The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” [‘Everything will be fine—you’re awesome just the way you are, don’t change a thing!”]
Biblical response: admit/acknowledge; weep/grieve; confess to the Lord Jesus Christ; turn from that sin in His power; receive both His forgiveness AND cleansing from sin (1 John 1:9), walk in joy & confidence that it is HIS good deed on the cross & in the empty tomb that made you a Christian and will keep you a Christian. Don’t hang yourself like Judas, but hang your sins on Christ—weep bitterly like Peter and be beautifully reinstated by Christ after you sin. Grieving over our sin is a good thing, godly sorrow has an important purpose–don’t try to get rid of that feeling right away after you sin! It is the Holy Spirit at work in you!
- 2 Corinthians 7:8-10: 8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. [God intends us to feel sorrow over our sin–don’t try to get rid of that feeling! Let it do its work to lead you to repentance, to turn from your sin! Wordly sorrow leads to trying to clean yourself up form your sin or celebrating your sin & thinking you don’t need to be cleaned up–both lead to eternal death]
- Jeremiah 3:12-14: Go, proclaim this message toward the north: “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt—you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’” declares the Lord. 14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you…”
[Oh how we must acknowledge our guilt, our rebellion against the LORD; but when we do, look at how the LORD treats us!!!]
- Jeremiah 31:18-20: “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning:‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God. 19After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ 20 Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the Lord.
[Oh how the heart of God yearns for & has compassion for us when we repent of our sinfulness!!!]
- Luke 18:13-14: 13 “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.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” [We must learn to beat our breasts and grieve when we sin, not act like it is not a big deal or act like Jesus will now kick us out of His family]
- James 4:4-10: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
This is the Biblical way to respond to our sin, and oh how it is different from the cultural way to respond to our “mistakes”…
Is the Bible saying we are to feel nasty and terrible all the time, walking around beating ourselves up because we are sinners? No, but to experience the joy of the LORD we must go through the pain in the night (Psalm 30:5–the weeping over sin & being humbled/disciplined by the LORD)…in order to be exalted—lifted up—by God we must go low & repent of our sinfulness (1 Peter 5:6)—it’s the only way. It IS painful to admit our guilt to God—that’s why the devil will never do it—being humbled is painful, but it is worth it, because the LORD PROMISES to lift up those who go low & humble themselves under His mighty hand. Sin wants you to keep quiet & try to get off on a technicality/loop hole; the only way is a full confession—plead guilty to Christ Jesus in repentance & He will declare you innocent!
Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
AMAZING VERSES! WHAT A PROMISE! But Jesus isn’t specifically talking about any reason we are weary and burdened—you of course can go to Him for ANY reason! But here He is specifically talking about the weariness and the burden that come from sin…sin is a prison, a merciless ball & chain—and He is offering rest for our souls when we are exhausted from sinning—in the verses before He talks about the towns of Chorazin & Bethsaida who refused to repent…
1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful & just & will forgive us our sins and cleanse/purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Not only will the Lord Jesus forgive us, but He will cleanse us from all sinfulness/unrighteousness! What a promise! What joy when we repent & give over our sin!
Psalm 32 (selected verses):
3 When I kept silent [about my sin!],
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place; [he went from hiding from God to God being his hiding place!]
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
[THIS is how God treats us when we come to Him & fully confess our sinfulness–
He surrounds us with songs of deliverance, deliverance from prison & guilt & shame!]
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
[To those who trust God, even trust Him by showing Him ALL of our sinfulness,
showing Him not just the tidied up living room but the creepy crawlspaces of our souls!]
11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
[look at how it ends for the sinner who confessed—joy & gladness, singing & rejoicing!]