The 1 Thing in our Struggle with Sin we Often Forget
The struggle with sin is so hard to handle because sin is so slippery. And we constantly feel like someone is pointing out all our faults.
Like a wet dog jumping out of the tub, sin constantly runs all over the place. Like a hot pan that burns us, sin just jumps away from us even as it stings us.
We can never quite get our hands — or our brains — around sin. And we can never actually handle it like we would want to.
We often think of sin as if it were only a temptations that we should resist, or a behavior to stop. If I stop the action then I’ll be handling sin properly. And if I handle it properly then I won’t feel guilty or have to fear punishment.
But there is more to sin than that.
One very important thing we often forget.
STUCK IN PRIDE
Early one morning in college, about 6am — which is really early for a college student — I was woken up.
I didn’t wake up. I was woken up.
I felt like God woke me up. I guess we needed to talk.
All of sudden, parading through my mind, were all the interactions and conversation I had with other people. And the one thing I noticed was how often I would subtly bring the conversation around to little accomplishments I had made, little success I’d had, or some other small way of fishing for a compliment. I was obsessed with ferreting out positive feedback for myself, manipulating conversations to get a kind word out of people. It was gross.
God was showing me all the little ticks and mannerisms I used in relationships to feel better about myself. God was showing me that I was both extremely arrogant and incredibly insecure — at the same time.
God was being brutally honest with the sin of pride and insecurity in my life. A piece of sin I hadn’t even known was there!
It was devastating. I was ruined before God.
MORE THAN SURFACE BEHAVIORS
The sin ran deep in me. And I didn’t even know it and I certainly didn’t know how to handle it.
And that’s when I realized there is more to sin than just surface behaviors. The problem ran deeper than that.
You could say the one thing I forgot about sin is that sin has a three-fold nature.
BLAMES, BREAKS, BINDS
Sin works on three interrelated levels.
Blames us: Sin as a behavior — when we do something wrong, when we hurt a relationship, or treat even ourselves wrong — makes us feel guilty and makes us feel shame. We feel bad for what we have done, or at least we feel like we should feel bad. Sin makes a blameworthy because of our behavior, and because of that we fear some sort of penalty.
- So, sin Blames us → Penalty
Breaks us: But sin is more than just our behavior. It is also a result we live in. Sin “breaks us” so that we can’t be what we were made to be.
Humans were made in the image of God and given a purpose to bless and flourish the world. But sin breaks the image of God in us.
We can no longer fulfill our purpose in life. Instead we often wander around feeling like our actions are futile and purposeless. This is the result of sin that we live in.
My pride and my insecurity were circling in and around this blackhole of futility. I was trying to find significance and meaning in all my petty accomplishments. I was trying to fill in the void of purpose because sin had robbed me of the security of finding purpose and meaning as God’s image.
- So, sin Breaks us → Purposeless
Binds us: Lastly, beyond the behavior and beyond the aimless drifting, sin is also a power that binds us. It is almost as if sin is a power that is outside of us that compels us to behaviors we regret. Sin can feel like an external compulsion pushing and pulling us around.
And in many ways it is. For Christians, sin is a power that has taken us captive. We are its prisoners. And we need to be liberated from it.
The pride and insecurity that God was showing me was a prison I lived in. And the problem was that I didn’t even know. I was an inmate and didn’t even know it.
- So, sin Binds us → Powerless
HOW DO WE HANDLE THE STRUGGLE WITH SIN?
Because sin has this three-fold nature (blames us, breaks us, and binds us), or because it works on these three levels, we need help handling it on all three levels.
As Christians we believe that:
- Jesus forgives the penalty so that sin can no longer blame us.
- Jesus fixes us — as the true image of God in human form — to our true humanity so that we are no longer broken by sin.
- Jesus frees us — by taken away our penalty and by restoring our humanity — from the binding power of sin so that we can be free.
STUCK ON ONE LEVEL
Often, in our struggle against sin, we just focus on the first level — the level of behavior, guilty, shame, and punishment. Maybe we ask for Jesus to forgive our sin and thank him for taking our penalty.
But then the process starts all over again (frowny face).
In our struggle with sin we need to go deeper. And we can because Jesus has gone deeper, fixing our broken image and freeing us from bondage to sin.
So in our struggle with sin, let’s turn to Jesus who:
- Forgives → those who are Blameworthy
- Fixes → those who are Broken
- Frees → those who are Bound