Newsflash! Old People Sin Too! – by Eliezer Gonzalez

May 2, 2016 2006

We too often read the Bible through pious, sanctimonious eyes, so we miss what it is really saying. Take Hebrews 11, with its magnificent list of heroes of the faith.

This is rightly called the “Faith Chapter.”

Old People Sin TooAs we read each name in this chapter, we remember their stories and their great faith. In our minds, these people are the pinnacle of what it means to follow God.

We know they were all sinners, yet somehow we are tempted to think that their big sins were in the past, in their youth; that as they walked with God, they became less sinful and nearer perfection, until, toward the end of their lives, they were surely ‘almost there’.

But consider Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and David. They, and others, committed their greatest sins in their old age. In fact, most of their learning and growing in the Lord occurred in their advanced years, not in their youth.

Consider Abraham, who gave up his wife to other men, not once, but twice. Consider Sarah, the woman who laughed in the face of God. Consider Moses, whose temper in his youth caused him to murder a man, and whose temper in his old age caused him to strike the rock, instead of speaking to it as God had commanded. Consider David, the brutal murderer and scheming adulterer.

These were not the sins of rash youth. How true is the saying, “Youth and inexperience can never defeat old age and treachery.”

So why are these people included in the great gallery of the heroes of faith? Not because they were perfect, but because, in spite of their serious imperfections, they knew how to learn the lessons of faith at the feet of God, and to trust him for his grace and mercy.

I don’t doubt that these Old Testament examples of faith were far closer to God in their old age than in their youth. I don’t doubt that the Holy Spirit had made some serious changes in their lives. They became more aware of who they truly were, and the depths of their need of God and his grace; the Spirit made them less judgmental, kinder, and more loving to others. These attributes are called the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5.

Sinless people are not given to us as examples of faith. Rather, we are pointed to sinful people, who in spite of their failures still took hold of God.

So if we accept that these heroes of faith were still great sinners in their old age, where does this leave us? With an excuse for sin? God forbid that we should so trample the Cross into the dust! Rather, we have the basis of our salvation:

…where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20).

When I was young and foolish I used to think that as I got older and wiser I would sin less. Now I am starting to understand. The older I get, the more I hate sin and the more I love him. Whatever he wants to do in my life, I surrender to him.

– by Eliezer Gonzalez

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