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The Rev. William Klock: “Where sin increased, grace abounded”

November 28, 2006

In the sermon Where sin increased, grace abounded, based on Genesis 38:1-30, Fr. William Klock of Christ Church REC in Oregon looks at an episode of sin that is truly ugly:

Chapter 38 is a difficult passage because it confronts us head-on with the ugliness of sin. Obviously the first thing we see here is the sexual sin involved, but lest we sit back and smugly think that “we’re not guilty of that kind of thing,” the passage also confronts us with sins of selfishness and with sins of worldliness. It’s an ugly story and I think that at some point and on some level it confronts each of us with our own sinful ugliness. But the fact is that this is exactly the confrontation we need in order to truly understand the mercy that our holy God has shown us by redeeming us through the death of his Son. In order to understand the nature of Christ himself as our Redeemer, we need to understand our own sinfulness. In fact we need to see the sinfulness of his own family, because in seeing that God could redeem such a family and put it to his use – to make it the very family of Messiah – we can find hope for ourselves an know that God can redeem us, can renovate our lives, and can put us to work in his Kingdom.

Fr. Klock goes on to talk about the sin of Judah (Jacob’s son) and his family, and gives an excellent background on this–but then he gets to one of his main points:

Judah’s story should drive home to us, as it would have to it’s first Israelite hearer, the need for God’s covenant family to be separated from the World. As God’s children, I think our greatest fear is of persecution from the outside. We’re afraid that other people might mock us for our faith, or even condemn us for it. We fear a day when we may no longer be tolerated, and when we here in North America might end up persecuted as Christians are in places like China or Sudan. But what we should fear even more is our own accommodation to the World. We need to remember that when Jacob “went up” to Bethel, his upward journey was more than just a trip higher into the mountains, but was a real striving heavenward, and that when Judah “went down” to Adullam, his trip out of the mountains also meant his turning his back on God so that he could look earthward. He left the life he knew before God’s altar, intermarried with the Canaanites and began living just as they did, and lost sight of the purpose and mission that God had given him to bless the earth. What’s wonderful about this is that at the same time that Judah is sinking deeper and deeper into worldliness, God is working out his purpose through Joseph in Egypt and will provide a place there where his chosen family can be preserved from worldliness and be prepared to become a great nation.

What I find amazing is that Judah, along with his eleven brothers, has his name written on the gates of the New Jerusalem. Judah stands before us as a witness to the amazing grace of God. He failed in every aspect of his duty. He failed as a son of the covenant when he turned his back on God and intermarried with the Canaanites, he failed as a father to instill Godly virtues in his sons, and he failed as a father-in-law when he deceived Tamar. Each of us is like Judah in some way, failing at the calling that God has given us, but Judah illustrates for us that even the worst of sinners can enter the Kingdom by God’s redemptive grace. God can redeem anyone he chooses, no matter who they are or what they’ve done.

We have noted before that this series on Genesis has made it very clear that the theme of the grace of God runs all through that book, and this sermon certainly shows this yet again. I commend the rest of this excellent sermon to you.

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