Weekly Devotional – Week of Monday, October 12, 2020
Opening Prayer (from the Book of Common Prayer, Collects)
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen
Bible Reading – 1 John 1:5-10 (taken from the Daily Lectionary for October 5th)
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (English Standard Version)
Devotional – Liar, Liar Pants on Fire
I am sure you can remember as a child the old schoolyard chant, “Liar, liar pants on fire.” The chant was usually proclaimed when someone was caught telling a fib. As children it usually had to do with something superficial, like how high you could jump or how fast you could run. This idiom has been around for quite some time. There are some who believe it originated from the burning of witches at the stake during the middle ages. The idea was that the witches britches would catch fire first and thus prove them to be liars about their true identity. I have no idea if this is true, but it does make for an interesting story.
In our reading today from 1 John 1:5-10, Jesus’ beloved Disciple tells us that there is something that we do that would deem the chant, “Liar, liar pants on fire” to be fair and accurate. Unlike with school children, it does not have to do with superficial self-aggrandizing claims. No, the issue that makes us liars is far more serious in nature and its effect in our lives is deadly. The issue is the reality of sin in our lives. John goes so far as to say that, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Why would this self-deceit be of such dire consequence to our lives?
For starters, the scriptures make it very clear that no one is without sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. That is what the word sin really means. It means to “miss the mark” with God. The original Greek word was used in the sport of archery. When an archer missed the intended target, it was declared as sin. In the same way, when we miss the target that is the revealed truth God’s law, then we are all in sin. God revealed to us what His righteousness looks like in His Holy law. And according to the Apostle Paul, God gave us this law “because of transgressions.” (Galatians 3:19) What that means is that the Law of God exposes us all as law breakers and therefore unworthy of a righteous God, for God declared that we must be holy as He is Holy. If we say that we are without sin, then we are declaring that we are good enough on our own. That we can match God, step for step, thought for thought, and intention for intention when it comes to righteousness. If we fall into the trap of believing this then we have deceived ourselves and the truth is not in us.
The second reason that denying our sin makes us liars is that in the process we are rejecting the truth of the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news that God sent his one and only son into the world to save sinners. If we are not sinners, then Jesus died for nothing. If we are without sin, then we have no need of God’s saving grace. We are in reality calling God a liar and a deceiver.
It is so easy to get lulled into thinking that we have not sinned. Most of us think of sin in the big categories of stealing and killing, which most of us manage daily to avoid. But Jesus did not leave us free to see sin as merely an outward act. Jesus made it abundantly clear that sin is a matter of the heart. If we have ever had lustful thoughts, then we are guilty of adultery. If we have ever felt anger in our hearts for another person, then we are guilty of murder. If at the end of the day you can by some miracle claim to be without a sin of commission, then consider for a moment the sin of omission. Have you always thought or done the right thing? Should you have helped your neighbor, but out of laziness or even fear for your own wellbeing failed to offer a helping hand? It is a rhetorical question because the answer is always yes. There is always something more we could have done, that we left undone.
The good news of the Gospel that John proclaims to us is that when, “we confess our sins, he (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we can finally admit the truth about ourselves, that we all fall short of the glory of God, then we will find in Jesus the righteous demand of God’s law fulfilled. Not by our own good works, but rather by the gift of a gracious Savior who died on the cross for our forgiveness. Jesus paid the full penalty for our sin and rebellion. In Jesus, the justice of God is upheld. When we give up on deceiving ourselves and admit what God already knows to be true about our lives, then the precious blood of our Sacrificial Savior washes us clean of all our sin and unrighteousness. That my friends is an amazing reward for telling the truth.
Closing Prayer (from the Book of Common Prayer, Confession of Sins)
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.