We need to talk about the “s” word.
No. Not that “s” word. The three letter one.
No…not that one either.
Sin. I’m talking about sin. (What did you think I meant?!)
We need to have an honest conversation about sin.
Recently, a friend and I were talking about the pervasiveness of sin. There’s not a square inch of creation, including and especially the human heart, that it does not mar. In our conversation, she shared with me a quote from Kevin Watson’s book, “The Class Meeting.” He says:
Many people struggle to affirm the doctrine of original sin (the idea that every person has been deeply damaged by the consequences of sin) and, as a result, that sin is inevitable and unavoidable, making it necessary for us to be saved by the grace of God. Yet, the same people who deny original sin, who feel that people are not that bad, are also adamant that “nobody is perfect,” that no one is capable of avoiding sin or incapable of avoiding sin. The operating view of too many people is something like “People aren’t all that bad, but they are incapable of being all that good.” [emphasis added] What a depressing (and inaccurate) view of human nature and possibility of life in Christ!
Guys- if people aren’t really that bad, then we don’t need God to be that good.
And if we aren’t capable of being all that good, then God’s grace is such a waste on us. Why bother?
Sin and grace are two opposing forces, always at work against each other for more ground in our hearts. Sin is the power that moves us away from God; grace is the power that moves us back towards God.
The Good News is not that sin isn’t that bad. It’s that no matter how great the power of sin, the power of grace is greater still. The Good News isn’t that nobody’s perfect and so you don’t need to be either, it’s that in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, we can be made perfect in love.
Anything less than this is not good enough news to be the Gospel.
There really are two kinds of people— there are Younger Brothers and there are Older Brothers (You know, from The Parable of the Prodigal Son.)
I’ll give you one guess as to which one I am. 😩😩😩
Older Brothers and Younger Brothers have more in common than not— they are both subject to the guilt of sin and susceptible to its power. But their one difference makes all the difference—Younger Brothers know it, and Older Brothers don’t (or at least won’t admit it). Older Brothers know how to hide their sin, especially from themselves. They may even know how to present it as if it’s a virtue. Not so with Younger Brothers. There’s no hiding their sin, and so they are much more likely to seek God harder, and often, sooner. As a result, they are the ones who experience God’s power in mighty ways.
Meanwhile, the Older Brother becomes more and more jealous of the Younger Brother for the grace he’s received and more and more bitter towards the Father for the grace that he hasn’t.
I understand the Older Brother more than I’d like.
The truth is that the same power received by the Younger Brother is every bit as available to the Older Brother. The only necessary thing is repentance. It’s really hard to repent, if you don’t think you need to! And if you don’t think you need to, or if you’re pretty sure you need to but aren’t aware of your own personal brand of sin, then you might consider, for starters, pride. (And you might also consider gathering around you a few people who will help you see your blind spots and love you anyway.)
Because when it comes to sin, here’s the kicker— the degree to which we are wiling to be made aware of, acknowledge, and repent of our own sin, declaring before God our need to be saved and our inability to be saved apart from Jesus, is the degree to which we experience God’s power for our very own selves.
So no matter who you are, if you long for the power of God in your life, then it’s time to get serious about your sin. Take heart— God is GENTLE and it is His kindness that leads us to repentance.
Grace, grace, God’s grace! Grace that is greater than all our sin.
Even mine. Thank God.