…as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1st Corinthians 1:7b-9
I love this passage. It gives me hope. And it helps me to sleep well at night (more on that in a moment). But this passage is encouraging because of what Paul says and to whom he says it.
Paul is writing to the Corinthian church and, to put it mildly, they were seriously messed up because of sin. This church was sick and warped. There were divisions and cliques because people favored certain pastors (1 Cor 3:4-9). A man was engaging in an inappropriate relationship with his step-mother (1 Cor 5:1-5). They were taking each other to court and suing each other (1 Cor 6:1-8). They were involved in gross immorality and idolatry (1Cor 6:12-20; 10:1-22). Some were even hogging all the bread at the Lord’s Supper and were getting drunk from the wine (1 Cor 11:17-22)! They were abusing spiritual gifts and were lacking love (1 Cor 12-14). And people say, “We want to be a New Testament church.” Not me! At least not this particular church.
But the thing that gives me hope is that it is to these messed up Christians at Corinth that Paul writes and says, “… Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful…”
Incredible. A sin-soaked congregation will be guiltless on the day when Jesus returns. Why? Because God is faithful. Because the Gospel is true. What a glorious hope sin-soaked churches have (both then and now)!
This is why I sleep well at night. Well, actually I don’t sleep well at night because I’m a “light sleeper” and my wife recently gave birth to our 6th child and we have a few sick kiddos at the house. So I haven’t been sleeping well lately, but I do sleep without worrying over the state of the church where I serve as pastor. No matter how messed up we are because of sin, if Jesus were to come back today, we’d all be blameless and without guilt at His return. That’s good news!
But what do you do when Satan repeatedly reminds you of your sins? Even though you are guiltless, what do you do when Satan reminds you of your besetting sins? Let me give the floor to my friend Martin Luther:
“When I go to bed, the devil is always waiting for me. When he begins to plague me, I give him this answer: ‘Devil, I must sleep. That’s God’s command — work by day, sleep by night. So go away.’ If that doesn’t work and he brings out a catalog of sins, I say, ‘Yes, old fellow, I know all about it. And I know some more you have overlooked. Here are a few extra. Put them down.’ If he still won’t quit and presses me hard and accuses me as a sinner, I scorn him and say, ‘St. Satan, pray for me. Of course, you have never done anything wrong in your life. You alone are holy. Go to God and get grace for yourself. If you want to get me all straightened out, I say, Physician, heal thyself.’”
I love Luther’s honesty and sense of humor. But he didn’t take sin lightly and neither should we. Let’s fight sin. Let’s strive for holiness by God’s grace. But let’s sleep well at night knowing that God sees us covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Give thanks today that you are forgiven and now stand blameless in God’s eyes because of Jesus… regardless of what Satan says!
Guiltless (what a great description!),
* Photo by Mike Adams