Have you ever seen the show that used to be on TV called Dirty Jobs?
It’s the show where Mike Rowe, the host of the show, goes out & for one day, works at some job that some people do every day because it’s actually their job, but it’s a really dirty job.
By that, I mean, it’s a job where you get really dirty.
If you’ve ever worked outside & had a dirty job then you know, it’s hard to hide the mud.
But I think this is our problem.
Sin is kind of like mud. We’ve all got mud. And what we do is that we spend our lives trying to hide the mud.
Brennan Manning said in his excellent book, The Ragamuffin Gospel… “The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.”
He goes on to say this…
“We don’t like the sight of ourselves as we really are, so we try cosmetics, makeup, the right light, & the proper accessories to develop an acceptable image of ourselves. We rely on the stylish disguise that has made us look good or at least look away from our true self.”
What we’ve created in so many of our churches are places where people are afraid to be honest with themselves & with each other about the mud. We’ve turned our faith into trying our best to be good people & hide the mud.
Again, Brennen Manning said it so well, “At Sunday worship, as in every dimension of our existence, many of us pretend to believe we are sinners. Consequently, all we can do is pretend to believe we have been forgiven. As a result, our whole spiritual life is pseudo-repentance and pseudo-bliss.”
All the while the mud remains the same & we remain unchanged. Because all we’ve allowed God to do is pretend to forgive our pretend sin.
Real People, Real Sin
So listen to what the writer of Hebrews said to these early Christians about our sin problem.
Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God.
So the way this worked before Jesus for the people of God, for the Israelites who were living under the law of Moses, was that if someone sinned or became unclean for any reason, their bodies could be made clean or the sin could be removed through the sacrifice of an animal & the water purification process (Numbers 19).
But these animal sacrifices were not able to do what Jesus would do. They had to be offered over & over again & they could not take away sin. In fact, they had the opposite effect. They REMINDED the people over & over again of their sinfulness. Of their sperate-ness from God!
Jesus, on the cross, does what no animal sacrifice could ever do. And because Jesus offered His life on the altar, on the cross, for us… “we can worship the living God!”
For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
You see, here’s the other reality we try to cover up more often than not. Sin has a price tag. A PENALTY.
We can try to pretend that it doesn’t. We can try to pretend that our sin doesn’t affect anyone but us.
But your sin is never just about you & your sin has far greater consequences than you could ever imagine.
This is how serious it is. Sin always leads to death. Something has to die as a result of your sin. And you know this.
Even if you don’t believe in Jesus you know this.
Sin in a marriage can lead to divorce – the death of the marriage.
Sin in your work can lead to losing your job – the death of that employment.
Sin in you relationships can lead to the loss of friendship – the death of that friendship.
It kills relationship, it kills integrity, it kills opportunity, it kills security, it kills time, it kills finances, it kills. Sin kills.
So when you sin something has to die. For the Israelites who lived under the law of Moses, they were reminded of this every time they went to the temple to worship & they watched as an animal was slaughtered because of their sin.
That’s why the Hebrews’ writer said in 9.22: “without the shedding of blood (without sacrifice/death) there is no forgiveness.”
So Christ did what no animal sacrifice could ever do for you. Christ did for you what you could not do for yourself. Christ offered himself as the perfect, once for all time, sacrifice for our sins.
But now, once for all time, [Christ] has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.
This is where you & I have a decision to make.
We have to decide if, in our lives, we’ve asked Jesus to FORGIVE our sin or if we’ve just asked Him to MANAGE our sin.
Here’s what I think might be at the root of our problem… at least it is for some of us.
We’re not convinced we need Jesus to forgive our sins. We’re not convinced we’re sinful people. We don’t even think we’re all that bad. In fact, most days, we’re pretty good.
We have gotten so good at covering up our mud, at taking our sin so lightly, that we don’t really even need Jesus anymore.
But here’s the truth…
I am a sinner. I’ve got dirt all over me. And only Jesus can wash it away.
Do you want Jesus to be the LORD of your life or the MANAGER of your life?
The good news is that Jesus likes dirty jobs!
The problem with asking Jesus to fix your sin problem is that you have to really honest about your sin. About your dirt.
All of it.
We think if we’re honest about our dirt, that people won’t love us, won’t forgive us & that God won’t either.
But nothing is further from the truth.
The woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus wasn’t judged by Jesus because of her sin. She was forgiven. She didn’t even apologize or ask for forgiveness. Jesus saw her, had compassion on her & forgave her on the spot.
The prodigal son who took his father’s money & ran away to do life his way on his terms found himself limping home with no money, no friends, no food, no future. All he had was a speech he had prepared begging his father to take him back as a hired hand.
The boy couldn’t even finish his speech. His father was waiting for his return. “While he was a long way off, his father saw him & was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms & kissed him tenderly.” Luke 15.20.
The father wasn’t angry, didn’t ask for an explanation or an apology. No. He welcomed his son home exactly as he was & threw a party because of his return.
Over & over again Jesus shows us what God is like. And this is what He shows us, our God is faithful to forgive.
Not because we deserve it. Not because we earned it. Not because of anything we have done but simply because of who HE is.
Here’s the question I think we have to ask…
Why in the world would the writer of Hebrews spend so much time talking about forgiveness of sin to these believers in Jesus who were being persecuted for their faith?
These people were literally suffering for their faith. They were beaten, put in jail, had their possessions taken from them (Hebrews 10) & yet the writer of Hebrews goes on & on throughout this entire letter hammering home this point — God your Father through Jesus Christ His Son is faithful to forgive.
Why did people under persecution for their faith in Jesus need to hear this?
Here’s why… because,
When you are FORGIVEN you are FREE.
Because when you are forgiven you are free & you have nothing to fear. You don’t even have to fear death if you are forgiven & free.
Free people are not afraid.
They’re not afraid of their secrets getting out because they don’t have any.
They are not afraid of being honest because they have nothing to hide.
They are not afraid of death because they already know where they are going. This world is not their home.
They are not afraid of judgement because they have already been forgiven. There is nothing to judge. Nothing to condemn.
Jesus once said, “…whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” –John 5.24
Are you free?
If so, then you’ve probably experienced the radical forgiveness of Jesus.
If so, then you know there’s no reason to hide the dirt.
Doesn’t matter how dirty you are, Jesus can wash it away.
He is faithful to forgive. He will never let you down.
I serve as the Preaching Minister at Riverside Church of Christ in Coppell, TX. I enjoy sports, running, fishing & life with the family. I’ve been in ministry since 1999. My wife Alisha & I have three amazing children, Will, Ella Grace & Emma Love. Thanks for stopping by my blog.