As adults, we assume that people who teach, write books, appear on TV, must be right, although the present political campaigns might throw some doubt on that.
Brian Doerkson’s song ‘To the River’ started a particular train of thought when we first sang it on a Sunday morning. The first two lines say this:
To the river, I am going, Bringing sins I cannot bear.
Now, when I first became a Christian in 1977, it was impressed upon me, by more mature Christians and books I read, that I should do all I could to attain a level of holiness that precluded even the thought of indulging in sin. In short, I had to become a person who could not bear sin.
It sounded good in theory, and I agreed with it. Putting it all into practice was a different story and it became something that required a lot of gritting of teeth and clenching of everything else. I am sorry if this revelation disappoints you, but I have still not yet attained that standard.
The problem is that the actual sin is usually something pleasurable to us, that extra piece of cake, one more drink, that revenge fantasy. Food, drink and justice are God’s idea. None of these is sin in itself, but it becomes sin when we take God’s good gifts at times, in places, ways, or in degrees that are not His idea.
Even then, it is not the sin that is unbearable, rather the numerous bags of garbage that accompany it. The big three are guilt, shame and despair and they will always plague the Christian who deliberately sins. So far, so bad!
Now the Good News. However tentative our belief in this fact, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, God truth is: we cannot bear sin! We were never made for sin, we were made for Jesus, made to be objects of His love, made to dwell in the awesome holy light of His home and because we were made for Him, He has borne sin and its baggage because He knows that we cannot bear it.
Every time we confess our sin, no matter how many times we may have to confess the same one, God chooses to forget it, really, really, really.
So, if we look at those two lines from that perspective, we can sing truthfully, ‘Bringing sins I cannot bear’, and because I cannot bear those sins, Jesus has borne them, I can have them washed away in the river where ‘Healing mercy flows with freedom from despair’. So, we can stop gritting and clenching whatever we were gritting and clenching, start again and live in the truth that the burden of sin and its consequences has been taken by one who loves us far too much to let us bear it.
When we let Jesus bear our sin, we can follow Him with much lighter hearts and no more gritting and clenching.