LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

When the Bible says, “Above all” or “first of all”, it’s talking about God’s priority. And God’s priority is that we keep fervent in love for one another. Some people think that Christianity is an orthodox doctrine, really it’s not how orthodox you are. It’s not how high you jumped when you’re saved, it’s how straight you walk when you come down is the real issue. And the only way to walk in the Christian life is to love. The New Testament summed up the greatest commnadment as loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, strength and body, and everything about us, and we love our neighbor as thyself. The word ‘fervent’ here is not the word for heat, or excitement or warmth. It’s a word for a strained muscle for a guy who’s pressing towards the mark. It’s a word for a racehorse as you see those tremendous muscles stretched out, and popped in strength. I think what it says is, it is of the utmost priority that you actively exercise your love for one another. That’s the idea. You see, it’s one thing to sit back in the church pew and say, “Oh, how i love Jesus” and “Oh, how i love you”, and it’s quite another to be actively involved in loving people in their lives where they need you in praying for them, and caring for them. Many Christians are characterized by a false sense of piety; they say, “Hello, how are you doing? We’re glad to see you. We love you and we’ll pray for you”, but deep inside is it’s just a bunch of baloney. But there’s another church that says “We love you. What can we do for you? We’re going to be with you in this. We’re going to walk with you through this problem. We’re going to love you whatever it takes.”, and that’s the church of the living God!

Why should we keep fervent our love for one another? “…because love covers a multitude of sins.” And why would love cover a multitude of sins? There are three possibilities. First of all, we’ve heard that same thing in James 5:20 where it seems to be talking about that love covers a multitude of sins, not of the person that is doing the loving, but the person that is loved as we bring him back to the Christian faith. The one drawn back to the fellowship, his multitude of sins will be covered. Another possibility might be this, what was preached by two early church fathers, Tertullian and Origen, as they preached that love covers a multitude of sins, meaning, that as we love as Christians, the very fact that we love in a self-giving way, the very fact that we respond with the mind of Christ, covers our own sins. I think they got that idea in Matthew 6:14-15 in the closing portion of the Lord’s prayer where it says, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (cf. Mark 11:25). So Tertullian and Origen picked up a very dominant New Testament theme that we are forgiven as we forgive, and therefore it’s possible that “love covers a multitude of sins” means that as we love others, God is able to forgive us. A third possiblity is found in Proverbs 10:12 where it says, “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions”. What this means is that as we are hurt by people in our church, or when people are unloving to us, or when people get on our nerves, let us first consider what if they had just a bad week, or we have said something wrong that burst their bubble and they explode in our face. You know, because of the tensions or the problems of the day, or the needs of the moment, people tend to get uptight, we need to overlook that and forgive people’s faults as we love them and as of course, they forgive our faults. I think that as we forgive each other’s faults in the Christian faith, we’re able to overlook sins done against us. It always amazes me that we’re so picky about other people when we ourselves have so many terrible faults in our life. I think it’s just a sign of self-righteousness when we think that we’ve arrived and have the ability of judge other people’s fruits. Don’t be a nitpicker. You’ll get into trouble doing that. Just realize that God is the Judge, and we must love and accept people. Reprove them of their wrong lifestyle, but love them with no strings attached.

#sins

MAN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS SINS

In Jeremiah chapter two verses 9 through 11, we find God contending with His people; of course Jeremiah is using the metaphor of the legal law court where God is bringing His own people to court because they have forsaken Him. And He is going to call heavens and earth to witnesses against what His people have done to Him. Jeremiah, as we know, is the prophet to the southern two tribes during the period of their Babylonian exile. And so God is trying to explain theologically why He had broken the Covenant, and why He has taken away the Promised Land from His people. They must remember that a very strange is presented in the Old Testament, both positively and negatively, and that is that God loves those who love him to a thousand generations, but God curses those who hate Him to the third and fourth generation (cf. Deut. 5:9-10). Lifestyle priorities are communicated to our kids. I don’t believe that God’s vengeance flowed injudiciously, but i do think lifestyle priorities flow to generations, and our kids pick up on what’s important to us, and what we do and where our emphasis in life lies. And we communicate the blessings of knowing God, or the curses of rejecting Him to our little ones. I believe that’s the ideal here.

God has charged His people with spiritual adultery. Never has there been recorded in history that a nation has left their God and gone with some other gods. He said “My people has done that, going after strange gods”. He calls the heavens and the earth to come and be a witness against His people (cf. Deut. 32:1), because they have committed two evils. “They have forsaken me the fountain of Living Water” – that’s a very popular Old Testament term as a designation for God about Jesus as the Living Water (cf. Ps. 36:9) and in the New Testament (cf. John 4:10-14; John 7:38-39; Rev. 21:6). They have left the One True God, and gone a-whoring after false gods. They have let that which is real, and gone to that which is unreal, vain, empty, void, non-existent.

Romans 1:18 through 3:20, i believe is the most definitive passage in all the Bible on the depravity of man. Three specific groups are mentioned, first immoral, pagans, and then the moralists, and the summary statement is “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God’s anger from heaven is being uncovered against all impiety and wickkedness of men. Of course, God’s anger is an anthropomorphic phrase, but so is God’s love. The same Bible that tells us that God loves us so much, He sent His Son to die for us is the same Bible that tells us that God’s anger is as real projection from God, as God’s love is. God loves all men, but when man begins to destroy himself, and destroys others, and destroys God’s creation, there is a settled opposition in the heart of God to man doing his own thing because it destroys, and cripples, and shatters the beauty of what God wants for us. And then it says God’s wrath is being uncovered. How is God’s wrath revealed? Notice as it says, “… witness of men who in their wickednessare suppressing the truth”. this ‘suppressing the truth’ has the idea of holding back the truth. It’s the idea of willful rejection of the light. Jesus said He didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, or judge the world, but the very fact that He came as the Light of the world, but men have turned away from the Light, and loved darkness because their deeds are evil. Men have rejected the Light and therefore have judged themselves to be unfit for the Kingdom of heaven.

What can be known of God is clear to their inner moral sense. What God is saying is, “I’m not rejecting man out of man’s ignorance, but man is suppressing his knowledge about Me”. Man wants a God that he can control. What God is saying is, “I’ve revealed Myself to them, so they’re not rejecting Me out of their ignorance. They’re rejecting Me out of willful rebellion”. God has revealed Himself to man in two different things: first, we’re talking about an inner sense of right and wrong. It’s an inner consciousness of innate ideas of right and wrong where all men in every society know innately that murder, theft, lying. Those things are wrong in every culture that man has ever developed even totally apart from the Gospel. C.S. Lewis said that this is a good evidence for the innate witness of a moral God.

Now the second thing is that God has revealed Himself in nature; His power; His design. His providence is seen in the realm of nature, and this is known as natural revelation. A distinction is made among theologians of natural revelation, they call it special revelation, or the Law, or the Torah, or simply the Scriptures (cf. Psalms 19). Finally, God ultimately revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ; His incarnation, His atoning work on the cross, and His Resurrection (cf. Heb 1). Even though man has never heard about the Person of Jesus Christ, man does have some spiritual light. No man who has never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be condemned for rejecting that which he does not know, but all men are responsible, Paul says, because all men have some light about God; so they are without excuse (cf. Rom. 1:20). Man is responsible for his spiritual life before God. He’s not going to blame culture. He’s not going to blame parents. He’s not going to blame ignorance. Man in responsible for the degree of light that he has. And Paul says, all men have rebelled against that degree of light. The modern theory of comparative religions says that religions are developing on an evolutionary presupposition from lower primitive animism to highly developed monotheism to the world religions today, but I submit to you that biblically speaking man is not evolving to, man is falling from. In Genesis chapter 1 through 11 God and man had a knowledge of one another, but since the Tower of Babel the knowledge of God has been degenerating instead of increasing, so they are without excuse. Man’s entire personality became shrouded in darkness, pretending to be wise, they became fools instead. Next time you meet somebody who knows it all, you just mark that guy off as a fool, because those who have come to the degree of understanding recognize the limits of their own mind and perceptibility. Man in his depravity needs to worship something, he needs something beyond himself. He can’t cope with life on his own resources, so he projects something out there. Isn’t it a tragedy that people today are still worshipping idols, birds, relics, tree, rivers, and powers of nature.

So God has given them up (cf. Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). I guess that’s the most tragic phrase in the Bible. It is the fact that man has knowingly rejected God’s light, and when man does that to a point it becomes impossible for God to give more light because man has reject the light he has and he can’t accept new light. That’s exactly where the Pharisees were in that same kind of condition. So God has given them up to their sexual impurity and perversion; homosexuals, lesbians, fornicators, adulterers, and the like.

Let me say a word here about homosexuality lest i be misunderstood. One example of man apart from God is sexual perversion, and this can be seen in the area of God’s most beautiful gifts – the relationship between a man and a woman in long-term commitment. Homosexuality is only one example of that. I do believe that homosexuality as an active lifestyle is against the will of God. But when i say that, i do not want to make homosexuality the chief sin. It is one of many sins. It is an apropos example of man trying to gratify human desire apart from God’s will for his life. We could put a pathological liar in there, we could put a man who has an extramarital sex, and cannot control his own sex life. That is also an example of man apart from God. So homosexuality is one example among many, but it certainly characterized the Graeco-Roman world of Paul’s day, and to our shame it characterizes all modern cultures. I believe God loves homosexuals with a deep pure and eternal love, and I believe God is seeking them for salvation, and I believe it’s possible for a homosexual to be saved if he so renounces it as an active lifestyle. A converted homosexual should be able to control it if he continues to grow in Christian maturity. It is impossible to be a mature Christian and be actively involved in homosexuality. I think sex is a wonderful gift from God. I think sex is clean and wholesome. And one of the signs of fallen man is, how man takes that which is good and makes it evil.

It is indeed a tragedy the Bible enumerates a whole list of sins that describes the picture of man without God. Every one of these sins describes the problem of fallen man apart from God, although they knew fully well that God’s sentence on those who practice such things deserve to die. They not only practice them but even applaud others who do the same. It is an aspect of fallen Humanity that if we can get more people to participate in our sin, we feel better about our sin. The more folks we can get involved in homosexuality or lying, or extra-marital sex, the more we have an excuse to say “Well, everybody’s doing it”. No, that simply will not work with God. We are responsible that we do have some knowledge, and that we’re going to be judged according to our works. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and we will stand before Him without excuse, and we’re not going to be able to blame parents, and churches, and denominations, and hormones. We are responsible for our sins. We have no defense for our sins. We all need God’s righteousness in Christ! We need the imputed righteousness given only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ who died in our behalf.

#sexual-perversion, #sins