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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Question: Tiger Woods - How should the body of Christ respond?

Answer: The same way we should respond to any sinner.

I have been seeing some strong statements of disapproval all over the Internet since Tiger Woods apologized to the world for his infidelity to his wife, and I can't argue with the validity of those arguments -- which are saying, in essence: he is once again proving himself to be egotistical, believing that because he is such an important person in the world, his actions have resulted in complete devastation everywhere, to every other person on the planet and for that he is truly sorry.

"Sorry for what?" is a question being asked and it is a fair one. Probably, he is sorry for being caught, sorry for the pain that has come into his family because of his actions, sorry for the struggles, sorry for the embarrassment and hopefully, sorry for the shame.

A while back, my pastor's wife said something to me that I had never considered before, yet it rang true. I can't recall her words to me to give a direct quote, so instead I will tell you what I gleaned from the conversation. Saying sorry is an empty thing and it doesn't address the issue. What is called for is please forgive me. When we say we are sorry, we are just conveying emotion. When we ask to be forgiven, we are admitting guilt.

Repent. Seek forgiveness.

As my husband and I watched what Mr. Woods had to say, the thoughts that came to my mind were quite different from those that are being conveyed around the social networks I frequent. I was thinking how terrible it is that this man is so lost. Having fame and fortune doesn't render him immune to the dread of floundering in the mire of sin. He needs Jesus Christ, not Buddha. Jesus Christ offers forgiveness and life, Buddha offers another call (among many) to the futility of man trying to save himself. As he was laying out his plans for personal redemption, I am going to go to therapy, I am going to beat this, I was thinking, impossible. Perhaps he was thinking the same thing and that is why he said it over and over and over again. If I say it enough, perhaps it will come true.

It is impossible for any man to overcome what comes naturally. We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. It is no more possible for us to overcome our sinful nature than it is for us to live without sustenance. Our bodies require food and water to live and we cannot simply decide we will not eat and drink anymore and expect our bodies to carry on as before. Understand, it might be possible to appear to be fine for a little while. We can shower, shave, have our hair done, put on makeup, get a manicure, and cover our bodies with nice clothes, but it won't be long and the lack of nourishment will begin to tell.

In the same way, we can determine we will not sin. We can proclaim it before international media. We can write it down so we don't forget our resolve; maybe get a tattoo in a prominent place, so we are reminded every time we see it. We can tie a string on our finger. We can promise...cross our hearts and hope to die, but it won't be long and our lack of ability will begin to tell.

Jesus made it clear on His Sermon on the Mount ( which you can read about in Matthew 5-7) that sin is much deeper than external actions. He went straight to the heart.

"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY': but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (5:27-28).

And lest you begin to think, that sin is not a problem for me, first of all I would say you are lying to yourself, but just in case you have yourself absolutely convinced you don't, try this one on...

"You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell" (5:21-22).

There are more. You can go to the link above and read about them. You might also want to check out Exodus 20. Sin begins in the heart; it is entrenched there and it is impossible for you or I to banish it from that place. So what remedy? How can any man ever be good enough to get into heaven? We cannot.

But Jesus was.

Jesus is.

Only He is righteous, but (and this is the astounding thing, the answer to the longing of your heart) His death on the cross has afforded imputation of His righteousness to your sin-shriveled soul. His resurrection from that death has afforded new life for you.

Repent. Ask your Creator to forgive you for your sins. Be freed from this body of death and be assured of life everlasting.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God" (John you know the rest of the story).
"Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:34-36).

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