Do you know the one thing we possess that God does not? Sin. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” I John 1:8 NIV. Today’s devotion is about that thing we can all identify, and that thing which we detest in others but might be more charitable with in our own lives.
We’re born with it….we’re covered in it………it’s a part of our DNA…..we pass it on to our children….we’re surrounded by it. We have a proclivity to sin—which means we frankly enjoy sin: no one is free from the contamination and bent tendencies that are associate with sin. No matter how mature you are or how much you believe, sin is constantly tugging at you….tempting you….trying to find a new way to penetrate your spiritual armor!
And I have it in abundance—-so do most of you.
Now we can easily recognize it in others, and we can look down our pious noses and condemn those perverts and reprobate and criminals, but we smile about our sins because we have come to an armistice with sin in our own lives ; we don’t like to dwell with our sins of the past that we prefer to keep hidden.
So let me back up and give a definition of sin. It’s not just doing something bad, it’s literally “missing the mark”, I.e it’s not hitting the bulls-eye in regard to what God intended for us when He created us. More commonly, it’s understood to be any immoral act. In short, it’s anything we think, see or do that is contrary to what God intended.
The first sin man committed was disobedience. The second sin was lying. The third was to not admit it and attempt to make things right. We still seem to practice these same sins as we grow older. I see this order of sin every day in my home with my sons.
You see, we’re all sinners. We are in rebellion against God and have been since the time of Adam and Eve. “A sinner, or fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor-that is the only way out of a "hole." This process of surrender-this movement full speed astern-is repentance." C. S. Lewis
But before sin even entered into the world through the devil, man was capable of sin—-as were the angels. "The sin both of men and of angels, was rendered possible by the fact that God gave us free will." C. S. Lewis. We are free—-praise God—-free to be saints or sinners. We have a choice in the matter—-and God holds accountable for the choice we make. But we are also beings that are now a bit warped, or bent, because of a sinful tendency we have because of the fall. It’s called “original sin”.
There was a time when I understood that certain things were bad——life was simpler when I was younger. Things were black and white—-right or wrong. I knew what was not good for me and totally contrary to moral living, because I trusted my parents. They taught me how to live and took me to church where I heard about what God liked and did not like. And I believed it and was happy. I choose to do wrong things, from time to time, but I never recall thinking that bad things were a good thing. But as I grew older I found myself more and more around people that did the very things I could not believe they were doing. Later I found myself starting to understand that it wasn’t so bad—-I mean, after all, everyone but me was doing it and God was not zapping anyone. In fact, quite the opposite was happening. The folks committing sins seemed to have the prettiest girlfriends, made the best grades and were the most popular at school! I wanted that life—-even if it meant bending the rules and failing to hit the moral bull’s eye, from time to time. So I got used to sin, even though I was a Christian, and I also got used to mocking people portrayed in movies who trying to live a Christian life. The older I got the more I saw Christian people through the eyes of the authors, directors, editors and producers of movies, TV shows and books that lambasted Christianity and those that would denounce sin——particularly sexual sin as being stupid and uneducated. And then I learned to laugh at those that lived lives contrary to the Christian ideal, and then I learned to like those that were not living morally, and finally to accept the alter values and behavior of those that were absolutely absorbed in a sinful existence. I would smile at things people did that earlier in my life would have disgusted me. All because I first learned to laugh at what they were doing—-and then began to like them. There’s a danger of laughing at sin or things that are sinful.
So I now realize that I erred, and that I said, watched and did things that were not right—it was offensive to God and made the devil grin! But let me tell you what I am learning about sin in my life. Having confessed sin in one thing, and turning away from sin is essential. But the notion that as long as my unacknowledged sin is in the past and I can forget about it is dangerous. "We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin." Lewis. Sins of the past will cripple my spiritual journey if I am not prepared to face them, confess them, repent of them and and seek His mercy.
So not to be morbid and to cause anyone to live a life of dread, but looking back at your errors and confessing them is will make a difference that will ripple through your life and the lives of those you love. You will find yourself more charitable and forgiving if you face your own aggressions against God. “But every uncorrected error and unrepented sin is, in its own right, a fountain of fresh error and fresh sin flowing on to the end of time." C. S. Lewis. Those sins of our past that we deny, or try to hide or sweep under the rug will, in time produce new sins…
I have to remind myself that I am fallen creation with tendencies that can still trip me up. Yes, I am redeemed, washed in the blood of Jesus and headed for heaven. But it necessary that I put aside the foolishness of sin and hold fast to the newness that Christ offers. According to Saint Francis one becomes that new creature by first doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. My first requirement as a child is to admit my sins—-those today and those many, many yesterdays ago. The next thing, if possible, is to make amends, for those sins against others or God that I have done. The next step, to the amazement of all, is that it will be doing what was considered impossible just a few years earlier—I will be at peace and my life will be a light to others seeking peace.
Our entire lives we adjust to life on this earth. We learn to endure pain and disappointment, or heartaches and betrayal—-life goes on we’ve learned. And perhaps we shouldn’t, but we’ve gotten accustomed to being treated shabbily at cheap restaurants or by government workers, and more seriously, we’ve gotten used to the lazy way we confront sin both in our lives and in the lives of those we love. Now, like a laser we can point out the sin of those we despise or with whom we have great differences, but what about our own little pet sins or the sins of those we agree with. (e.g. of what conservative Christian lies and the lies of those in my favored political party irk me far more than the lies of the others!!!)
I think that life would be far easier if God punished us each time we sinned or got off the mark. If every time my mind wandered down the wrong path of lust, or I told a little white lie, or the suppressed ego within me raised it’s ugly head—-if every time God slapped me down or brought severe pain—or something very unpleasant—I would stop sinning….and so would you! But He does not. He treats us not like farm animals with electric wires to keep us within, He treats like His own precious children—-allowing us to roam to farm, play in the barn, and even get into trouble. He wants something different from us—- a life that is full of the good choices we’ve made; He does not desire that we choose Him—-or righteous living—-because it was the only choice.
I tell you that if you choose to sin, your life will not be unpleasant or full of disease, or bankruptcy or unhappiness. Sinning can make you quite happy and you’ll find yourself with lots of company, and you might find yourself living a long, conformable respected life.
But I can also tell you this. It’s only because of God’s forbearance —His patience—that this is possible. It’s only because He loves you and me far, far more than we love Him. Like a parent raising kids at a farm that tolerates the kids getting into trouble at the pond or the barn, so God puts up with us——and praise God He does. But He expects us to grow up and become the adults sons and daughters He envisioned.
The biggest error is my past understanding about sin. I have thought that my sins of the past, and perhaps even right now, that are private, in my mind or long ago packed away in my past memory of childhood or adolescent, are of no account. But I tell you, I have friends that have died of lung cancer that gave up smoking years ago. The things we did, that were evil, things of which we are privately aware and things that the Holy Spirit, has brought to our minds, that we refuse to confess and repent of, are cancer in our souls. They will cut our spiritual lives short and will not allow us to breathe and compete spiritually.
The other mistake is to conclude that because there are not immediate consequences for my sins that God must be okay with it. Perhaps, we think, God has come to understand that certain things He once condemned are acceptable now———perhaps God has “grown up” and sees how unfair it is to expect us to refrain from the very things He has placed on this earth that tempt us.
But when you smoke your first cigarette or cigar, you don’t immediately go the hospital for radiation or chemo-treatment. The first time you get drunk you don’t become an alcoholic. The first time you cheat on your spouse you don’t be a prostitute or a Hugh Hefner. But unconfessed sin lingers, pollutes and will come back to slow you down, haunt you and like a terminal disease keep you from the full expression of the abundant life He came to give us.
Jesus has paid for your sins—-they are forgiven. But in this life the consequences of not confessing the sins the Holy Spirit reveals, or choosing to continue to live in or for sin, will always mean that you’re being held back from being the son or daughter He hoped you would be in this earth.
God is not wearied by our sins…He does not give up. But He is relentless in His determination that we become holy. But we have make a choice…….why not today?