Without apology or shame as one of the Lord’s heralds of the Gospel and teacher of the faith rooted in the Bible, I preach God’s requirement of repentance from sin for forgiveness leading to salvation and continued right standing with God. The divine call to repentance from sin clearly asserts and exposes the reality of its presence in every human heart as judged by God (Romans 3:9-20, 23; 1 John 1:8, 10). We expect resistance to the truth of sin guilt from rank sinners that love their sin and refuse to turn from it (John 3:17-20). However, many professing Christians and their leaders resist repentance from sin to include heresies among their reasons to save face.
A quick check with Webster’s Dictionary reveals that the layers of definition attached to the word, “face” includes the consideration of our “standing in the face of others;” our “prestige.” All of us to some degree or another have concern about how others see us. None of us wants to be seen in a bad light or found to be something other than what we say we are. From the example of our forefather, Adam and his wife, Eve--who sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves, hid from God when they heard Him coming and then played the blame game as God inquired about their behavior--we especially have a great difficulty with being found guilty of sin (Genesis 3:6-13).
Since Adam, humanity has reflexively employed all manner of device to deflect away sin guilt rather than simply owning up to it. As little children even, we will immediately lie to avoid consequences and of course, to save face. Of the many Bible characters beyond Adam that acted deceitfully to cover their sin and save face, Saul the first king of Israel is a prime example. Like most folk, Saul wanted to first save face in denying he had sinned at all by disobeying the Lord in the Amalekite mission (1 Samuel 15:18-21). After Samuel gave God’s eternally standing instruction on obedience, Saul finally admitted that he had sinned in disobeying the Lord (1 Samuel 15:22-24).
Here is seen again the difference between godly and worldly sorrow over confessed sin (2 Corinthians 7:8-11). For though Saul admitted he had sinned in disobeying the commandment of the Lord, his heart was not truly repentant as is borne out by his behavior in the rest of what is written of him going forward from this incident. Indeed, immediately after reluctantly admitting he was wrong, once more Saul wanted to save face before the people by having Samuel participate with him in worshipping the Lord. At first Samuel refused understanding the very serious nature and consequence of Saul’s sin and no doubt, his motive (1 Samuel 15:25-26).
When Samuel turned to leave the scene, Saul grabbed hold of his garment and ripped it in the process. This gave rise to Samuel’s affirmation of God’s judgment of Saul symbolized in the tearing away of his garment. After this, Saul confessed again he had sinned, but pleaded with Samuel to “honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord your God,” (1 Samuel 15:27-30, NKJV). Saul wanted to diminish the gravity of his sin and consequence by having Samuel make him look like he was still alright with God. Samuel worshipped with Saul for what he knew was the last time and finished his mission (1 Samuel 15:31-35).
I know well the sin and temptation to save face when I have done wrong in now this fifty-eight year old life. Nevertheless, God, a Father exceedingly great above all, has steadfastly insisted of me to own my stuff immediately not to escape consequences and save face, but always to receive His forgiveness! And since this is also biblical, it is the will of God that all men embrace it (Ezekiel 18:20-23; 1 John 1:9). Yet, over the years I have lost count of the number of professing Christians and leaders that have sinned against me or are in sin and have lied to my face or lied in denial about their sin to save face. Proudly refusing to confess and repent from sin to avoid consequences and save face is shamefully common among professing Christians.
Like Saul, many professing Christians and leaders attempt to diminish the gravity of their sin guilt and any consequence in saving face by going on with church worship and activities. This is very evident in churches where the Holy Spirit is not really operating (emotion is not spiritual fire) or welcome (much religious activity does not mask spiritual deadness). Sin not confessed and repented from before God is sin not forgiven and it does not matter who the guilty party is! Therefore, let every son and aspiring strong man of God in the image of Christ continually confess and repent from his sins being more concerned about how God sees you than men (2 Corinthians 5:9-11)! The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, “Who is on the Lord’s side?”
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