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Back in April I wrote a blog post that was dedicated to an old and dear friend of mine whom I had not communicated with for several years. That post was titled, “You Think About That”. My friend is not only a former pastor of many years, he is also a seminary professor, founder of Key Life Network, a radio broadcaster, and author of numerous books, including his latest book, “Three Free Sins.”
Now don’t throw apples at me, after all, it’s his book and his title. His name is Steve Brown and if you know him or have listened to him talk in the myriad of venues in which he speaks (as a pastor, professor, Bible teacher, at conferences, on the radio), you know that he has a very deep voice and a delightful sense of humor. He’s also honest to the bone. And, he is, without a doubt, one of a kind. They broke the mold after he was born.
I received a copy of his latest book in the mail yesterday and immediately started reading it. Regarding the title, here’s a quote from the back cover:
“After years of trying to teach people to be holy, Dr. Brown became fed up with reaching for the impossible. And so one day on his nationwide radio program, he offered the outlandish promise of three free sins. Sound too good to be true? The truth, Brown says, is that it is true.
“Of course, Steve Brown can’t really offer free sins, but what he vividly conveys is that while we can never lead a blameless life, we can relax in knowing that we are completely forgiven–not just of three sins, but of all.”
Here’s a quote from page 42 in Chapter 3 titled, “Repent! The End is Near!” to give you further insight into what Steve means when he offers free sins:
“When (Martin) Luther told his followers to ‘sin boldly!’ he wasn’t encouraging sin. He was encouraging repentance and a bold new trust in the sufficiency of Christ for all sin. Luther once suggested to a man who questioned him about encouraging sin that there was an incredible arrogance in assuming that anything we could ever do would be more sufficient than the blood of God’s own Son” (Jesus Christ).
Of course, to be a Christian, one must come to Jesus Christ and believe that He is the one and only Son of God, our Savior and Lord, and repent of our sins and allow Him to take control of our lives. His death on the cross paid the price for our sins–past, present, and future. If we have done that, our sin debt has been paid in full. But we also begin, at that point, to live for Him and not for ourselves. A vital relationship with Jesus includes regular Bible study and prayer and a commitment to live according to His Word (the Bible). And He provides what we need by way of the Holy Spirit to grow in our relationship with Him.
In a section titled “The Power of Repentance” on page 43, Steve states: “It is repentance, the source of our power and authenticity. It is the walk to which we have been called. As Christians, we have not been called to tell the world how good we are and how God made us that way. We have been called to stand before God and the world, as it were, naked, honest, and loved. In this state–and this state alone–we find power at it’s purest and best.” He continues on page 45, “When we finally acknowledge our need for forgiveness and come to God in repentance, we find true power: for we now have nothing to hide or protect, we don’t care what people say or think about us, we are willing to speak truth gently, and we are enabled to speak it with tremendous, supernatural power.”
In a section titled, “The Problem with Self-Righteousness,” Steve states, “The problem with self-righteousness (the opposite of repentance) is that not only is it in our DNA, and not only does it create blindness to it’s existence, but it is also addictive . . . . Self-righteousness is addictive because it makes us feel good, and after a while it defines who we are and how we see ourselves. It creates an ‘us and them’ mentality and ‘us’ is always right.
“Let me show you the process: self-righteousness starts with convictions (a good thing), then moves to discussion (another good thing), and finally falls into the devil’s trinity of dismissal, demonization, and destruction (some very bad things)” (p. 45-46).
Self-righteousness is insidious, and we all fall under it’s spell and many times in ways we don’t even recognize. That is why Jesus told us in His Sermon on the Mount, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1-5). A clear sign that we are under the spell of self-righteousness is when we judge others.
Other chapters include, “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More!” “The Wuss Factor,” “When Getting Better Doesn’t Matter,” “The Other Side of Silence,” “The Devil Made Me Do It!” “A Party Down at the Church,” “Just Don’t Let Them!” and “Are You Crazy?” I’ll be reading them today!
For those of you who know or are familiar with Steve, this book is “vintage Steve Brown.” And as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, he is honest to the bone. I’d like to quote three short paragraphs from the introduction (p. xiii):
“Too many books are written by experts sharing their expertise. This is not one of them.
“This book is a witness. It’s a witness to the eternal verities of the Christian faith, to the surprising discovery that God isn’t angry at his people, and to the incredible wholeness that comes when one encounters the real God . . . not the one ‘they’ told us about.
“This book is simply the words of one needy, fearful, sinful, confused, and joyous beggar telling other beggars where he found bread.
“I often say at the end of my sermons, ‘Fifty percent of what I just taught you is wrong. I’m just not sure which fifty percent. So, you’re going to have to get your Bible and do some checking.'”
Now that last statement is raw honesty. I don’t believe I’ve ever read another author who has stated that fact, but the truth is, it could be said for all of us who write–whether we write blog posts or books. There is only one place to go to get truth 100% of the time, and Steve stated it in that last paragraph, “You’re going to have to get your Bible and do some checking.”
So . . . get your Bible and do some checking!
And, if you’d like to order Steve’s latest book, “Three Free Sins,” order information can be found at the bottom of this post.
One of the endorsements at the beginning of “Three Free Sins” is as follows: “After reading Steve Brown’s ‘Three Free Sins,’ this rotten girl redeemed put on a pair of red stilettos and did a happy dance. ‘Three Free Sins’ is like an old Three Dog Night tune–it makes you sing along, crazy and loud, happy as all get-out. Steve Brown isn’t the old bald guy he claims to be–he’s all heart, graceful and true, and his message is indeed ‘Joy to the World.’” ~Karen Spears Zacharias, author of “Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?”
So with that in mind, here’s a YouTube video for you: “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night (1971):