Speaking the Truth in Love

Is Sin a Joke?

Some years ago I heard a sermon on the radio delivered by Bob, a denominational preacher in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Bob devoted a significant part of his time to describing his immoral lifestyle before conversion. He drank booze, snorted cocaine, and managed a “girl review” in Las Vegas. He foolishly married an attractive young woman he’d known for only one day. His marriage lasted little longer than that – three weeks.

Bob seemed to take great pleasure in recounting his sinful experiences. He was laughing and making his audience laugh. He dramatized his former thoughts and feelings, saying irreverent things to God.

Bob’s speech reminded me of Joe, a preacher I once knew in Alabama. Joe laughed about his former life too. He called the sinful period of his youth “the BC days” – the days before Christ. As it turned out, Joe’s BC days were little different from his preacher days. His wife divorced him for committing adultery. More than once Joe attempted to commit suicide.

Sin is no joke. The apostle Paul readily admitted that he’d done terrible things before his conversion. But he found those memories painful and not the least bit funny: “I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted [Jesus]; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:13-15).

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