My wife and I have an ongoing dispute about the best way to play pinochle. I am rather convinced that the game is INFINITELY more fun if you allow passing to your partner four cards, after the partner names trump. My wife likes the boring way of just playing what you were dealt. Now, my wife's friends in this parish (on this question they are not MY friends) all agree with her: they call the passing game cheating, or breaking the rules.
We laugh about it and well we should - it's just a game, and the rules are made up. A totally different situation obtains when it is not "game" but God's holy law. You see, I think too often we've conceived of sin as "breaking a rule" - in other words, it violates the rules of the game set up by the Creator. What we miss is that sin doesn't just "break a rule" - sin "breaks" a person. Sin damages us. Damages our souls. Morphs us into what God never intended us to be; corrupts and distorts. In this morning's OT reading we had Ezekiel 18: "Repent and turn from your iniquities, lest iniquity be your ruin... Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God, so turn and live!"
Why does God hate sin? Because He's ticked off that we would dare to disobey His rules? No! Because He hates this satanic damage inflicted upon the creatures He made to share in His life forever.
So, the Christian can never not be concerned about sin in his or her life. Even as the Christian can and must rejoice in the forgiveness that God has reached us in Jesus Christ, the wiping out of the accusation of the law against our violations of it; we recognize that God not only wants to forgive us, He also wants to heal us. He calls for us to fight against sin by the power of His Holy Spirit. The person who can rejoice in and celebrate the wounds that sin causes and say: "But I'm forgiven!" is a person who has missed the point that Christ came to forgive sin *so that He might free us from it.*
Does that mean that we will ever be free from sin in this life? You know the answer from St. John. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But He goes on to add that if we confess our sins, God, the Faithful and Just, will forgive our sins *AND* cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In the words of the Blessed Apostle Paul:
"Since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." 2 Cor. 7:1
Lord God, we praise you for the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ our Lord. Cleanse us and heal us as we live under Your pardon and celebrate Your boundless mercy and love. Amen!