Perhaps your kids are zombie terrorists. Perhaps your spouse is a bum. Wouldn’t it be great to know who the champion of sinners is in your home? Join AMBrewster today as he shows Christian parents who the chief of sinners is in their homes and helps them confront that person.
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Today’s episode is going to be a shorter one, but it’s going to be a harder one.
As we ramp up for our holiday celebrations, I know you have a lot to do, but I believe this episode can be a very helpful way for you to prepare your mind for the season.
I know that may sound strange, so let’s jump right in to our discussion of the biggest sinner in your home.
Many of you will recognize the phrase “chief of sinners” comes from Paul. He never actually used those exact words, but in I Timothy 1:15 he said, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
In the King James version is reads: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
Now, Paul doesn’t take any time in the passage to justify how he was the foremost sinner, but I think he gives us a glimpse into his thinking in Romans 7. This is the famous passage where Paul laments that he does the wicked things he hates and doesn’t do the righteous things he loves.
And then in verses 23 and 24 he cries out, “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
But, you know what, Paul wasn’t the only person who saw himself this way. Consider Isaiah.
In chapter 6, verse 5 of his book, Isaiah had a vision of God, and all he could say was, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
In Job 42:5-6 Job cries, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Here are a number of takeaways:
1. We should be able to understand the depths of our sin far better than we can understand the depths of another’s sin.
Paul knew his struggle better than he knew anyone else’s. His heart stood open before him. It doesn’t matter how intuitive we are, we will never understand anyone else’s struggles the way we should be able to understand our own. We know every thought that passes through our minds in a day. We know where our eyes wander and our hearts stray.
The problem is that we’re such wretched sinners that it’s easy for us to ignore our own sin to focus on the faults in others.
But John speaks dire words against those living in a such a delusion: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [and] If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
I know how easy it is to see our terrorist child as the champion of sinners in our homes, but I don’t think that’s how we should look at it.
2. It’s only when we see God for Who He is that we will see ourselves for who we are.
One of the reasons your children don’t care about their sin is they don’t really care about God. But the same is true for us.
I think the average professing Christian has far too high a view of himself because he has far too low a view of God.
Every time in Scripture that people are confronted with the glory and majesty of God, they either reject Him or they grovel before Him.
Perhaps we see ourselves as so much holier than our spouses and children because we aren’t seeing God for Who He is.
Even the Israelites who would less than a month later break one of God’s commands by a making an idol to worship — even they were struck with awe and fear in the face of God.
I think our self-ignorance stems from a very real God-ignorance.
3. Those who are aware of the forgiveness they’ve received have no problem admitting the depths of their sin and expressing the heights of their love.
In Luke 7 we read of the prostitute who bathed Jesus feet in perfume and tears and washed them with her hair. Then the self-righteous crowd around her judged Jesus for allowing her to worship Him in this way — stop right there — the first clue that there was a problem should have been that these people were judging the son of God.
They were so convinced of their own righteousness that they believed they were holier than God.
Anyway, Jesus tells them a parable and sums it up this way, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
The woman knew the depths from which she had been forgiven and had no problem focusing solely on the relationship between herself and her Lord.
The people who refused to see themselves as sinners were the only people judging others.
And how did Jesus draw their attention to their heart issue? He showed them their sin of refusing to worship Him as they ought.
4. Like our children, we are sinners who far too often reject God’s Truth, but the difference is that we’ve been doing it for longer.
Consider this tiny point . . . yes, your 5 year old and your 16 year old are both likely very hard people with whom to live. But what about you?
You see, your children may not even be born again. It may be impossible for them to please the Lord because — as Romans 8 teaches — it’s impossible for enemies of God to glorify God. But even if they are born again, they’ve made what? — a ten year habit of worshipping self?
How much longer have we been sinners? How much truth has been taught to us? How many more lessons has God had to bring into our lives? How many more consequences have we earned over how many more years?
Yes, your children are sinners and they need to be addressed, but were you any different? Were you born into this world as a Christian? Was there not a long period of your life that you rebelled against Him? And even when you finally submitted to His love and authority, have you not still, consistently, day after day sinned against Him? You who know more, you have seen more, and you have experienced more of His goodness and love and forgiveness and grace, are you not more culpable than they?
Yes, your children are sinners, but how much more are we simply because we’re older and have been doing it longer?
5. We first need to be humbled by our own transgression before we are bothered by the sins of others.
In Matthew 7 Jesus challenges us with this, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”
Yes, God does want us to help remove the specks from our children’s eyes, but it must always start with us removing the very real log from ours.
We need to remove our sinful anger, our annoyance, our pride, our lust, and our foolish self-sufficiency.
Recently my son has been on a Monopoly kick, and he’s been winning a lot, and he’s been getting a little arrogant and unkind about it.
So, like any good father, I invited him to play with me and his sister, and — if I’m being honest — part of my goal was to make sure he didn’t win.
To make a long story short, I played a better game, but the rolls of the dice were not in my favor. Everyone missed my apartments, but I couldn’t help but land on his houses.
And — before you knew it — I was dying and dying fast, and I was becoming very annoyed. Now, I think I did a good job hiding it, but it didn’t change the fact that there was a very real log sticking out of my eye.
There I was trying to knock my son down a notch because of his recent pride and arrogance, and yet there I was — a nearly forty year old man who should’ve more self-control and love and patience and humility being very unhappy that both my 11 year old and my 9 year old were beating me.
And I was reminded that the casting of the dice is in the had of the Lord, and I acknowledged that as I was trying to deal with the person who I thought was the biggest problem in the house, God was clearly trying to get the attention of the chief of sinners too.
So, I repented of my bad attitude, my discontentment, my ingratitude, my lack of trust, my pride, my arrogance, and then I landed on my daughter’s property, couldn’t pay and was the first one out of the game . . . and my son went on to win.
Now, was I able to help him win gracefully and lead him to an understanding of humility, of course I way, but I believe I was only able to do it well because the log had been removed from my own eye.
Dad, mom, whoever you are listening to my voice right now, you are the chief of sinners in your home.
Dad, you should be in God’s Word — basking in His glory — and that reality should have you on your face before Him acknowledging that you are the chief of sinners in your home.
Mom, you should bathing in the majesty of God to such a degree that you are broken over your own sin before you’re broken over your children’s. You should see yourself as the foremost sinner in your home.
Now, was Paul really the chief of sinners? Has there never been a worse sinner than Paul? If we could tally up all the sins of all the people in your home this week, would you really be the chief? That’s not the point.
The point is that we should all be wrecked by our own sinfulness — all of it. We should be so enamored by God’s goodness and glory that we can simultaneously revel in His grandeur but also be ashamed of our continual — though not constant — rebellion to His will for our lives.
This means that — in my home — I — Aaron Brewster — should see myself as the chief of sinners, my wife should see herself as the chief of sinners, my son should acknowledge that he is the chief of sinners, and my daughter should be broken by the fact that she is the chief of sinners in our home.
And the moment that any of us points our fingers and self-righteously believes that we’re better than someone else, we have taken our eyes off God, we’ve denied the reality of our own sinful hearts, and that alone should prove to us that we are — in fact — the foremost sinner in our lives.
So, in closing, how might this help you prep for the holidays.
Oh, I think it’s clear. We will enjoy this season of worship and praise and celebrations and gatherings and tired children and too much sugar and breaks from school far more when we have a right view of Who God is and an accurate view of who we are.
Yes, you’re going to have to do a lot of parenting, and yes, your children are going to sin, but yes, you to are also going to sin, so deal with the sin in your life first by huddling at Jesus feet and being overjoyed at the amazing forgiveness He offers, and then go help your kids do the same.
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Perhaps the Lord would have you do the same.
Listen, I know that it’s a humbling thing to see ourselves as God sees us, but that’s how it should be. Our joy and our boasting should be in Christ for His amazingness and wonder. But when we get too focused on ourselves, we lose sight of the fact that we’re sinners in need of grace, and we become far too judgmental toward others.
And that can very easily lead to feeling like we can’t do it anymore. And you know why? Because God never called us to do it that way.
So, refocus your hearts and minds on the glory of God and the neediness of us.
And — to that end — I’ll see you next time.
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