I think it safe to say that most people in this room have had a job interview at some point in their life. And we know that there are things you do to sell yourself to the interviewer. We give lip service to the fact that this is our dream job at our dream employer as if we have not imagined working anywhere else. We magnify even our smallest accomplishments and skills. And we make a thinly veiled attempt at turning a weakness into a strength. We project perfection and infallibility hoping that they will accept us and offer us the job. For tonight’s exhortation, what I want us to ask ourselves is this: Do we live this way before God? Really stop and think, do we live as if we are interviewing for God’s acceptance, mercy, grace, and love? Are we honest with God about our struggles and temptations to wander into sin? Do we glorify ourselves before Him, puffed up in our own minds at our own righteousness? Do we minimize or even rationalize our sin before we would confess it?
If we find that we are living this way, we need to turn to Scripture to see what God says about our sin and relationship with Him. We read that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8) and “that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) God knows that we sin, so He sent us his son. We do not need to continue putting up a façade as a demonstration of how worthy we are of God’s grace—that would put an end to grace! Be honest about your sin. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:3). We humble ourselves by bringing our sins to the light to the glory of God. God alone gets the glory because we in no way contributed to God’s work of conquering sin and death. It is only through Jesus’ death and resurrection that we can even entertain the idea of bringing our sins before a holy God. Without Jesus, we would stand guilty, condemned. This is where being a part of the church is so important. We need brothers and sisters who will help us to be honest about our sins, forcing us to vocalize and grapple with the weight of sins that we would otherwise try to conceal. By not confessing to a brother or sister, we deprive ourselves of one of the principal means that God has given us to sanctify us and help us overcome the sin in our lives.
My encouragement to all of us is to find a person or a group where sinners are welcome, but sin is not. Here at Redeemer, life groups of three or four people provide the space for confession, prayer, and forgiveness. And for those of you who are members here at Redeemer and don’t belong to a life group, talk to your community group leader to help you find one. For those of you who are part of a life group already, I urge you to be open about your sin and trust that God’s grace is more even when it feels like death to bring sin to the light. It is no longer death because Jesus died on the cross for you that you might have life.
Our lives are not interviews to gain God’s grace. He gives it freely to sinners. The righteous have no need for it anyway. I will close with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that says it so well, “You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner. Thank God for that; He loves the sinner, but He hates the sin.”