Yes, I’m teaching my children repentance means something.
And sin means something.
And even though the world likes to shout out the part on how love covers a multitude of sins, the Holy Spirit tells us it does not erase them. Only following Jesus can do that.
In that same passage often quoted from 1 Peter 4, we are told:
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” 1 Peter 4:1-5
Yikes, that stings.
As much as ripping open a wound that we’ve all tried so hard to bandage up.
We’ve all bitten into what’s forbidden.
All of us have been there and have felt the pain that came as a result.
But here’s where the Jesus we follow steps in.
In John 8, the Pharisees drag a woman caught in adultery to Jesus, making a spectacle of her sin. At least that’s what it looked like to bystanders.
Yet, we read the real reason was not to trap this woman but to accuse Jesus of wrongdoing.
And this is where Jesus’ deity comes in.
Jesus knew their hearts.
And in His redeeming power, He was going to be the one turning this woman’s lifestyle into a teachable moment for all of time to come.
Jesus draws a line in the sand.
He makes a clear division.
And we’re quick to jump in and say it’s a division between condemnation of sin and of grace.
Yet, if we think a little longer, why would the Savior who would give His life to punish sin and pardon us sweep sin under the rug?
I don’t believe He does.
Instead, He convicts the accusers of sin in their own hearts.
And He turns our eyes from someone else’s choices back onto our own. He puts the spotlight back on us.
We are to examine ourselves. And make sure we are right with Him. Because that’s where living our best lives comes in.
And then, Jesus offers the most freeing statement in all of scripture:
Jesus will not condemn her either.
She’s seen His face.
She realizes the Savior of the world came for her.
She knows Him. She knows His mercy. She knows how He’ll step in the middle of a struggle and fight for her.
But Jesus doesn’t let that end it.
It’s not love wins and just love until your heart’s content.
No, Jesus says-
“Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11
Just as He did in His very first sermon –
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Matthew 4:17
Does Jesus think she can possibly sin no more? Of course not. However, He does challenge her to chase after a better way.
Our greatest command is to love God first.
More than ourselves. More than our wants and our feelings. More than winning friends over and saying “you do you” no matter the cost.
And the beauty of it all is that when we seek God first, we will love people. Period.
But it may look a little different than what the world expects.
My kids know sometimes love can be firm.
It can be me yelling at them to keep off the street when they’re playing ball.
It can be a punishment after fighting with each other.
They know they have to bend a little now to not completely fall apart when someone else irritates them down the road.
The same goes with God’s love.
It’s not about what makes us happy, or makes everyone happy. Jesus would not need to go to the cross for that.
As our oldest son worked through his understanding of salvation, one of the first topics we had to be clear on was his understanding of sin.
He needed to know what it meant to sin. And that we are all guilty.
And He needed to know Jesus gave His life to reunite us with God after sin caused the greatest divide.
Because He loves us. So, we love Him.
It’s a love that draws us closer to our Creator and Heavenly Father. A love that gets it. A love that realizes when we deny our good plans for His better ones, we’re stepping closer into a love that does not end.
So, that’s why I’m not teaching my kids a gospel that leaves out repentance.
Because I know I’d be leaving out Jesus if I did.