Great Sin, Great Love

by Stephen Rhoda

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” — Luke 7:47

The reference here is to the “sinful woman” who came weeping to anoint the feet of Jesus as He sat in the house of a Pharisee, and the point is clear, that those who have known the forgiveness of Christ will love Christ.  It cannot be otherwise, that those who have heard the Gospel and have believed in Him will love Christ dearly!  And the greater our sin, the greater will be our love for Christ.

But is it required, therefore, that we have a history of scandalous sin?  Must those who love Christ be former prostitutes and drug dealers, thieves and murderers?  No, but we must know the peril and scandal of even “small” sins.  We must feel the weight of conviction and know that apart from Christ even “good boys and girls” and “saintly grandmothers” deserve to be cast into the outer darkness of hell.  Only then will we hear the Gospel with great joy and love Christ with a great love.

So among those who profess faith in Christ, some will say, “Don’t preach to me about sin!  I already know my sin, and I’m already a believer!  So just tell me how to live for God.”  But it doesn’t work that way.  There will no true humility within us, no sincere change in our lives, no lasting improvement in our behavior, apart from a great love for Christ.  And “he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  If we can’t figure out why we don’t pray, study God’s Word, and evangelize more, even while finding greater victory over sin, here is the answer: We need to love Christ more by growing in our knowledge of and conviction for sin.

The Heidelberg Catechism puts it this way — and here is a terribly important lesson from God’s Word — that the reason God wants His commandments “preached so pointedly” is “so that the longer we live the more we may come to know our sinfulness and the more eagerly look to Christ for forgiveness of sins and righteousness.” (Q & A 115)  So it might seem like a strange thing to pray, but let us pray (and study God’s Word) for a deeper understanding of sin, unto a greater love for Christ our Savior!