For those of you who opened this blog for a piece of juicy gossip, I have to disappoint you. Today I write to expose sin for the dirty rotten scoundrel that it is. A scoundrel loses his entangling power with many when he is exposed and so, it is my prayer that freedom is near for those of us brave enough to confront the “s” word.
In every story in history of good vs evil, there is always a hero and always a villain. The Bible is no exception. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection would be in vain if there were not something to rescue us from. The villain is identified right from the beginning and although the devil would love to get the glory for the main role of evil in this world, he unfortunately has much assistance from the power of sin. I am not saying that there is not a real and dangerous foe in Satan, but whereas we can do NOTHING good and righteous without the Savior, we can do plenty of evil without help from the devil simply by living a life of sin.
The enemy would love to take credit for the invention of sin. Surely it would make him a creator in some sense of the word, but since sin actually means to fall short of any standard that God has set for us, ultimately sin is about God. It is a direct offense against Him.
Therefore, we cannot afford to skim past a clear understanding of sin and its workings in our lives. To fail to take the time to know our opponent is to set ourselves up to fight a losing battle. Truly the adversary of our soul has won many a fight against the Church of the Living God by simply encouraging us to keep quiet about sin.
In our world today, the use of the word “sin” is practically obsolete. We are much more inclined to call sin “mistakes”, “flaws”, “weaknesses”, or harmless “addictions”. Many leaders in the church have stopped preaching on sin altogether. After all, it is uncomfortable for the people who pay the bills to be told they are wretches. And since many of these leaders are themselves hiding insufficiencies and offenses against a holy and righteous God, it suits them just fine to avoid the subject.
This is the spirit of sin. It crawls inside and hides. It crouches at the door waiting to pounce. If it can’t find a way to be accepted as the “norm”, it changes tactics and pours on the shame that leads to a cover up. Sometimes it even mutates itself into something resembling light so that the victim is unaware of the poison that is seeping into his or her soul.
And it happened first in the garden…Adam and Eve examining the tree that the Lord said not to touch. One tree…that’s all they had to avoid. That one tree was beautiful. It was “good for food, beautiful to look at, and desirable to make one wise”. Aren’t we supposed to search after wisdom anyway? Either God had made a mistake or He was holding out on them…so they ate. Immediately their eyes were opened to their sin…immediately they knew they had done something wrong, but before the actual eating, they had deceived themselves into thinking it wasn’t a big deal and maybe even a good thing that they were doing.
Which brings me to my point: the two ways that I think we are tempted to deal with sin. I think these two ways are most evident in us as individuals, but also have become part of the church as a whole.
There is a popular movement in the church today to simply accept sin. You have a “problem” or an “addiction” or a “weakness”, you are more than welcome to come in and make yourselves at home. We all sin and no one is perfect so let’s no one “judge” anyone else by calling their sin by name and we can all just sit in our sin together. Feel free to admit where you fall short, and only work on it if it makes you happy or comfortable…or if you are going to lose something because of it…and even then, please stay quiet that you are waging the war against sin because we wouldn’t want to make anyone else that isn’t, uncomfortable. While it is very true that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, sin is winning the battle in these churches and sin doesn’t play fair. Don’t think that sin will be satisfied to rest on its laurels…it comes to kill, steal, and destroy. It will not be happy with ground gained, but will stay at work until it has overcome anything and everything good that could possibly come out of the people of God.
The other bulk of mainstream churches seem to have the extreme opposite problem with sin. Instead of accepting sin, they fear it. There is actually a technical name for the fear of sin…it is hamartophobia (from the Greek word used most often for sin). Like Adam, we are afraid and dreadfully ashamed of what we do and have done, so we hide it…from everyone…we try to ignore it and act like it isn’t there. We shove it away in the darkest corners of our lives so that we can be “spiritual”. We are desperately afraid that sin makes us the struggling Christian or, even worse not a Christian at all. We do anything to keep it inside so it doesn’t come out and prove us the sinners that we are. After all, doesn’t the Bible say “consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to righteousness”(Romans 6:11)? Yes, it does, but notice that it doesn’t say sin is dead…it says that we must consider ourselves dead to sin…meaning sin is no longer the ruler in our life. We are no longer slaves to it. But answer me this, if we are spending the majority of our time focused on hiding our sin and covering up our faults and offenses against God, aren’t we pretty much a slave to sin?
This is why I LOVE how the Lord approached Adam and Eve in the garden. He didn’t come in on a dark horse with fire breathing from His mouth and roar at them that they were going to hell… no. He asks a question…”Where are you?” He’s God… He knew exactly where they were. Why in the world would He begin His discipline with that question?
He was giving Adam the opportunity to bring his sin into the light…to confess. The one thing that sin hates more than anything is the light of confession…admission of guilt. This is the first line of defense in the war on sin. The man who beat his chest in the sanctuary had it right when he prayed “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”(Luke 18:13) Our days should begin by pleading for the mercy of Christ and the covering of His righteousness. The church is so concerned with reputation that we have left no room for confession one to another. Noone can be real anymore because it would mean that we have to admit that we are sinners…GASP. But until we can feel comfortable bringing these things into the light with each other and encouraging each other with the Word of God and the cleansing power of Christ, realizing that we are all in the same war, revival will be as hidden as our sin. God wasn’t afraid of Adam and Eve’s sin…He wasn’t even afraid of what it did to the world. He knew when He created man that it would cost Him His Only Son…He did it anyway.
I used to have this idea that when I accepted Jesus as my Savior that it was supposed to be a magic solution for sin…that once we were saved, our struggle with sin was over. The more I have studied the Word, the more I realize that our struggle will be over when we get to heaven. It’s why the sacrifice of Jesus was so necessary, because His blood covers our sin. He became our righteousness, so that even the vilest of us could be made right with God. It is an ongoing cover of righteousness that does not end at salvation. He keeps covering us, right on through sanctification. He calls our sin out into the light so that He can rid us of it, so that we can see it for the evil it really is, but He also is not afraid of our sin. He knows us inside and out and He sits in heaven interceding for us in our battle. He knows this struggle “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:3-4) He will keep on disciplining you in your areas of sin because He is not content to let us sit in slavery. He is jealous for us to be walking consistently in the Father’s will and right relationship. There are consequences, but they come with a disclaimer “My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son that He receives.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)
Let us not grow weary in this fight against sin, but let us also not grow afraid and hide instead of fighting it. Let us develop a heart that is transparent before God and man…a heart that is easily chastised by God and quick in turning away from anything that might offend Him. The moment we clearly see Christ on that cross for us…to deliver us from sin…it should be enough to keep us continually at the altar confessing and asking for more mercy to please and glorify Him. This is the right attitude towards sin…admitting…confessing…staying aware and in battle…laying aside every weight and snare that so easily entangles us…persistently running the race…continually becoming more like Christ.