TEXT: LUKE 7:36-8:3
SELF-DECEPTION
Vicar Kyle Krueger

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  Usually when we think of sin we do so in an action or deed sort of way.  Because of this the meaning of sin or transgression is something we do; it is an act, or an intentional procedure of wrong doing.  To confess our sins before God and one another we must first know that we have indeed committed sins; that we are need of forgiveness.

Our confession of sins this morning identifies sin as self-deception.  Sin clouds us in such a way that we cannot even recognize or acknowledge that sin is in us.  Some may define self-deception as a personal altering of what the objective reality is.  One could also call this -being delusional- or perhaps even insane from a mental heath point of view.  Delusions can cause one to see or perceive things that really don’t exist and also to not think something is real when it is very much a matter of fact.

As humans, enemies of God from birth, we love to practice self-deception.  Sin is not just simply found and identified in the action of wrong doing like lying or stealing, but it is a condition, a state of being we cannot free ourselves from.

TEXT: LUKE 7:36-8:3
SELF-DECEPTION
Vicar Kyle Krueger

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  Usually when we think of sin we do so in an action or deed sort of way.  Because of this the meaning of sin or transgression is something we do; it is an act, or an intentional procedure of wrong doing.  To confess our sins before God and one another we must first know that we have indeed committed sins; that we are need of forgiveness.

Our confession of sins this morning identifies sin as self-deception.  Sin clouds us in such a way that we cannot even recognize or acknowledge that sin is in us.  Some may define self-deception as a personal altering of what the objective reality is.  One could also call this -being delusional- or perhaps even insane from a mental heath point of view.  Delusions can cause one to see or perceive things that really don’t exist and also to not think something is real when it is very much a matter of fact.

As humans, enemies of God from birth, we love to practice self-deception.  Sin is not just simply found and identified in the action of wrong doing like lying or stealing, but it is a condition, a state of being we cannot free ourselves from.  This is why in the confession of sins we confess that, “we are by nature sinful and unclean.”  The word nature communicates that it simply is fact.  If someone finds the idea of sin a medieval superstition, and has no room for such religious tom-foolery it should be said again, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

The self-deception and the delusion that sin, God and Christianity is a sham- is hinged on the reality of what sin is and does to our perception of ourselves.  The source of trust and truth becomes our own power and whims.  Sin makes us enemies of God because we want to be our own god’s, our own saviors, and our own creators of reality.  Today, in the Gospel text, there are two categories of people depicted.  And these two kinds of people are really the only two that exist in the universe: the sinner and the self-righteous, the one who recognizes the burden of sin, and the one who sees no fault in themselves, those who receive Christ as the sin bearer and those who reject Him.

God sent His Son to be an atoning sacrifice for all people.  The revelation of God, in Christ, is by very definition the forgiver of sin, but if one deceives themselves by concluding no sin exists in themselves forgiveness is a worthless hoax.  Our Epistle reading says, “The righteous shall live by faith”, not “The righteous shall live.”  Self-deception wants to take back our sins from God, by saying we have no sin.  The truth, then, of Christ and His gospel is certainly not in us and we are incapable of knowing what is sin and what is not, what reality is and what is not.  It is the righteousness of faith by Christ’s flesh and blood sacrifice and not ourselves that brings salvation to the sinner.

The Old Testament reading displays this well.  After Nathan tells David of such despicable acts and offenses Nathan unexpectedly says to him, “You are the man!”  It is by faith that David confesses, “I have sinned against the Lord.”  David confesses his sins and God, who is faithful and just, forgives his sins and cleanses him from all unrighteousness.  “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”  This nicely echoes Jesus’ words from Trinity Sunday, “If anyone keeps my words, he shall never taste death.” Guilt of sin equals eternal death and forgiveness of sins equals eternal life!

The label of a sinner is spoken under the assumption that the person recognizes sin.  If you were to take a poll in the surrounding neighborhoods and ask if people considered themselves to be a “sinner” that they stand damned in front of God, one could guess there would be very few of them.  They may admit sin in the action or deed sense, but not that it is the cause of death and we are by nature sinful and unclean.    The Pharisee recognizes and states the women’s reputation of sinful deeds; the woman herself recognizes her sinful nature by her contrite actions, but the Pharisee has no recognition of transgression for himself and therefore, Jesus as God who can forgive sins.  The text says, “They began to say to themselves, who is this who even forgives sins?”  This language can indicate a mumbling in a discrediting sort of way.  This statement does not mean they were in awe of Jesus’ words, but rather display scoffing and ridicule at His seemingly foolish dealings with the woman.

You could ask the question of yourself “am I like the Pharisee or am I like the woman?”  One can only answer that question by understanding what contrition and faith is and what then it bestows to us by Jesus cross and new life.  The woman’s sins are not forgiven as the result of her great love and service toward Jesus, rather remission is the cause of her great love.  Her love for God is the result of the forgiveness of sins, not the cause of forgiveness.  Another Bible translation says it this way, “For this reason I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love.”  And another says, “Her great love proves that her many sins have been forgiven.”  When Jesus pronounces absolution it literally means God has forgiven her sins, they are forgiven, and they continue to be in the state of forgiveness.

The point in all this is- love toward God is only produced by God first forgiving our sins.  If a person loves God, it is the result of God first forgiving a person’s sin.  It is similar to saying, where there is smoke, there is fire.  There must be fire because there is smoke. To the one who sees no sin in themselves, who is self-righteous, rather then faith righteous- God, Jesus, the cross, forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, righteousness are nothing more then a bad reality TV show that is actually staged.

The confession of sins in the service assumes faith and forgiveness motivates us to confess our sins.  If one recognizes no wrong doing why in the world would we admit there is a problem with ourselves or any of our actions?  We have all been in those arguments and circumstances where we have stated, “I haven’t done anything wrong, I don’t have anything to apologize for.”  This can be a frightening place for someone to be when it comes to God.  There is no peace to give, no forgiveness to bestow.  Those who stay in their self-deceptive ways will answer for their own sins.

For the Child of God the crucified Christ answers for our sins.  Now, Jesus has His feet covered with ointment and the woman’s kiss, but they will be driven into by spikes and covered in His own blood.   We the Church, the baptized are the woman at Jesus’ feet.  The knowledge of sin and the rich forgiveness in Christ make faith yearns for our lips to touch Jesus’ flesh- even if it is His feet.  Contrition drives faith to want nothing more then to be cleansed- even if it is by the water of our own tears.  Beloved in the Lord- Christ comes and touches you with His crucified and resurrected flesh in the Holy meal.  You are cleansed, not with your own tears, but with the water and word that washed over you in the font.

The practice of reclining at Simon’s table indicates that it is a festive banquet.  Jesus would not have been invited there if He was a nobody, but rather that He was viewed with some level of honor by this certain Pharisee. Simon the Pharisee first allowed for the thought that Jesus was at least a prophet.    That notion is shattered for Simon when the woman enters and touches him.  Her sins must have been of great offense and of some kind of public knowledge, if Simon can identify her so easily as a sinner.

Jesus’ love and debt parable comes to fulfillment in the contrast between Simon the Pharisee and the sinful women.  She owed a great debt and the forgiveness of that debt elicits great love.  Simon the Pharisee offers no service of love to Jesus, no water for Jesus feet, no kiss, and no oil because he cannot imagine any sin of his that needs to be forgiven or that Jesus can do such a thing, thus no love is there to be reflected.

The sinful woman goes in the peace of forgiveness, received at the table of Jesus.  She comes to the table in repentance and faith.  She then receives from Jesus His gifts of forgiveness and fellowship while the Pharisee rejects Jesus’ ability to forgive sins. It is in the Service of the Sacrament, at Jesus’ table today, you will hear Jesus’ words to the sinful women echoed to you, “The peace of the Lord be with you always” as the body and blood of our Lord are raised up for the faithful to receive.

“If we say we have so sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

In the name of Jesus- who forgives sins.  Amen.
 

THE PRAYERS
Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs. 

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for Your love poured out on us in the gift of Your Son whose blood cleanses us from all sin.  We praise You for the Holy Spirit, for Your Holy Church, for the means of grace, and for the hope of the life to come.  Help us to treasure in our hearts all that You do for us and increase in us love and service for You and for one another.  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Gracious Lord, send the light of Your truth into all the earth.  Raise up faithful servants of Christ to advance the Gospel both at home and in distant lands.  Receive our thanks for the presence of the Kruegers among us this past year.  Grant your blessing to Kyle as He is called to serve Your people at Emmanuel Lutheran Church.  Supply him with steadfast readiness and patient understanding and zeal in the ministry.  Bless Kyle and Kim and their child in this time of transition.  Grant rich joys to them and to the all the people at Emmanuel Lutheran.  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Merciful Lord, be present with all the families and members of this congregation.  Give husbands and wives grace to grow in love and forgiveness for one another.  Especially we remember with thanksgiving Bill and Judy and Mark and Kate and Dick and Pat on their wedding anniversaries.  Bind together all families in a spirit of respect and service and a love for Your Holy Word.  Protect our children from the influences of this evil age and from their own sinful natures.  Deepen their trust in You that they find peace and forgiveness in You alone.  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Merciful and compassionate Lord, grant healing and help and patient trust to those who are weak and receiving therapy, especially Marce and Irma and Helen.  Grant relief to those who are unemployed and those seeking to employ.  In the midst of struggle grant strength; in the face of disappointment grant hope; and to all the baptized grant daily joyful confidence in your faithfulness.  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Gracious Father, you bless us with the care of children and command us to bring them up in the knowledge of the Lord.  Grant your blessing to parents as they instruct their children in the truths of Your Word in their homes.  Be with our catechumens anticipating their confirmation, Ellis and Isabel and Richard and Daniel and with Klaus who was recently confirmed. Grant Your blessing also to those who teach and those who learn in the hours of Vacation Bible School this coming week.  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Almighty God, in this world torn by sin protect and strengthen those whose lives are torn by flood or disaster, especially those in Arkansas and along the Gulf Coast.  Grant that amid the tempests and disasters of this passing world, Your unchanging Gospel may bring comfort and Your people bring compassionate care.  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Holy and blessed Trinity, You have made us a new creation in Christ.  Help us walk by faith and not by sight.  Deepen our trust that when our earthly tent is destroyed, we have a building You have made for us eternal in the heavens.  Receive our thanks for those who have departed this life in the faith and now rest from their labors.  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray trusting in Your mercy, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a