Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sin is an Empowering Word: Part 2

Sin. It is the cause of the guilt we feel after we drink too much and too often. It is our insecurity. It is the arbiter of gossip, pornography, wasting time, laziness, do-nothingness, maligning others, back-stabbing, lying, over-spending, yelling at our children, sending nasty emails, grouchiness, nosiness, entitlement and having either too low or too high of a regard for ourselves. Sin is our own estimation of everything: what we do, think, say or feel. Sin is there. It is here. In the world. And in us. Whether we know it or not.

And when we finally understand this, the “aha” moment of why, after so many years of trying, we can never get out of ourselves by ourselves becomes clear:

“I can’t fix me when I deny I need fixing. And I can’t fix me when I am the problem. Only Jesus can fix me.”

But to say that we need fixing rubs folks the wrong way, in spite of the fact that they will be the first to sign up for the meditation class or the “Find Your Inner Whatever Seminar,” or binge on parenting books and gobble up New Age tomes like The Secret, The Power of Now and Creative Visualization.

Sometimes folks will fail to acknowledge that they are even remotely any part of the dysfunction and malaise in their life (or the lives of others) and will instead job-hop, city-hop, spouse-hop; place their hope in lottery ticket purchases; read horoscopes; become workaholics; distract themselves with television (including televised sports); take drugs; drink alcohol; play the victim; or spend money to make themselves feel better.

Often the tentacles of our inner dystopia extend to strangle others too: we become enablers, manipulators and schemers. We divert attention off of ourselves by controlling, demanding, “helping,” “saving” and meddling in the lives of others.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can make a choice:

“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve:...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15, in part)

And the people in Joshua decided:

“Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods;...” (Joshua 24:16, in part)

Anything we serve other than God is a false god; an idol. So our self-righteousness is the idolizing of ourselves. Yelling at our kids is the idolizing of ourselves. Blaming everything on the boss or the spouse is the idolizing of ourselves. The sin we adhere to and refuse to agree with God regarding can result in idolatry: of ourselves, a material item or another person.

In 1 John 1, however, we discover how the acknowledgement of sin can empower us:

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess ours sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 1:5-2:6.

If we deny sin—generally or specifically in our own heart, mind, body and soul—then God’s word has no place in our life. Which is why, when we don’t believe in sin, we can’t believe in Christ because we either have no need of a Savior, or because we see our shortcomings in secular-human terms and thus appoint ourselves, a job, an identity or another human to be our savior. And that results in our giving carte blanche to sin (sin gets the upper hand even though we may not believe in it).

In my case, once I believed in sin, a belief in and desire for Christ came almost instantly. And any and all maturity and developing integrity in my life has, and does, derive directly from His Holy Spirit and the absorbing of His Word.

Copyright Barb Harwood

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