Originally scheduled for August 5
Many of us are fans of detective fiction. One
of the reasons such fiction appeals to human beings comes from the
nature of the problems which are presented in a detective story.
The detective story is always
soluble. When you get to the end of the book, the name of the
villain is known. It's not much of a detective story if you can't
figure out who did it.
The detective story is completely
soluble. There are no loose ends to tie up; all of the red herrings
are explained and the miscellaneous clues properly categorized. The
solution is neat, tidy and complete.
The detective story is always solved
in the same terms in which it was presented. We don't suddenly
discover in the last chapter that there's been a ghost story in here
The detective story is always finite.
When the mystery is solved, that's the end of the book.
Wouldn't it be great if all our problems in
life were that kind of problem? But life's problems aren't like
those in the detective story. Most of our problems in life come from
sin, and those kinds of problems are rather different.
Sin is always soluble — but not by
you. Its solution is in Christ.
Sin is not completely soluble. You
may have to ask the forgiveness of someone you have offended — and
they may not be willing to grant it. Its effects linger on.
Sin is not solved them the same terms
in which it is presented. Sin is presented in the terms of what you
did; the solution is in what He did.
Sin is not necessarily finite.
Sometimes it keeps coming back to bite you again and again.
Sin is a very different kind of problem than
those presented in detective stories. So what kind of answer should
The answer is not a solution – it's a
creation. We know that we are "a new creature in Christ" when we
accept his forgiveness at baptism.
That answer changes the problem. We
no longer seek the solution to sin – we want to know how we can
remain that new creature in Christ.
The new creature in Christ knows the
answer to that too: the continuing cycle of confession and
That cycle of confession and repentance is
closely entwined with Communion. When you come before him to accept
what he calls his body and his blood, you remember the sacrifice
that made your forgiveness possible. But Communion should impel you
to confess your sins and repent of them, so that you might take his
body and his blood in a worthy manner. This is how you remain a new
creature in Christ. As often as you do this, remember what it cost
to solve the problem of your sin.