The true enemy of Sin

I had a good conversation with a friend the other day regarding sin. Sin is a tough thing, because we tend to see it as a compliance issue- the authority figure sets the rules, and sometimes we mess up, and so we feel guilty and sometimes get punished.

That may be true, but there's a lot more to it. At its center, sin is about a complete break in a perfectly ordered, perfectly happy relationship. It's like if you lived in a place where EVERYTHING was just right, and you were always happy, and things always went the way they were supposed to… but you didn't just want happiness, you wanted to be in CHARGE, and so you chose a life of sadness and pain and want and loneliness because you thought you could do even better.

You turn away from God… why? Has he failed you? Oh sure, sometimes it feels that way. But has living for yourself ever made you complete? Has doing the right thing ever made you into a worse person?

One very sad thing about sin is that we tend to rate it, as if the measure of righteousness is the least number of "bad" sins. As long as our sins are just "small" ones, we tell ourselves, we're doing pretty well.

God is clear, though, that that isn't the case. Sin's insidiousness isn't in tempting us to do the really "big" things, and so mess ourselves up. Sin's insidiousness is bound up in the fact that even the smallest sin completely destroys that relationship with God. It hurts the relationship we have with Him, even after we've become Christians and had our sins forgiven.

I gave my friend (ok, it was Dave Cheng) this example;

For instance, let us consider two pastors working together at the same church. One is sincerely pursuing God, trying to love him, and trying to be a good leader. However, one night he starts chatting with a woman who stops by, and that night they commit adultery. The church finds out. What happens? Today, his career would be ruined, he can't get work anywhere else, and he is always looked down on by his friends and family.Meanwhile, the other pastor gets deep into pornography, but never gets caught. He serves as the leader of the church for years, with nobody ever suspecting what goes on behind closed doors. He never changes his behavior.Which is worse? Under our current system of "thinking it vs. doing it," the adultery is worse. However, I would argue that biblically, the second is significantly worse. Want proof? Think about the first two examples... now think of them as King David and King Saul. The one has a heinous one-time sin, the other has small things that systematically show that he is ignoring God, and lets the small stuff separate him from pursuing God with his life and kingship.

God is clear… He prefers broken sinners who pursue Him with their lives to the outwardly good who ignore Him inwardly.

This concept has been important in my own life. As I seek to follow God, it teaches me two things;

First, my sin is worse than I think. I need God's grace just as much as anyone else, because I choose my own glory over His just as much as anyone else. I need to be broken and humble, because I have NO reason to think I'm better off than anyone else.

Second, my goal cannot be avoiding "big" sins all the time… because my hidden sins will be there just as much, just as evil. Instead, I need to focus on knowing and loving God more and more… I need to make him my "heart's orientation," because that is the ONLY strategy that will help clear away the sin in my life. Only He can change me, and He will only do that if my life's gaze is fixed on Him.

I want people to see God in me. I hope, someday, that my life will show them a tiny piece of what He is like. That won't happen, though, by avoiding adultery and murder. Plenty of people in all sorts of religions can do that. Instead, my life needs to show that fullness and joy and completeness comes only from the correct order… God is who He Is, and I must worship him. Only then will he be glorified correctly.

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