I am writing this post, because I really think a lot of people have sin misunderstood. I clearly do, and part of writing this piece is me trying to figure out how to deal with sin. I have acquired great wisdom from writing as the Holy Spirit speaks to me and so I hope, you reading this, will learn something too.
When I was younger I always viewed sin as the wall that bordered God’s anger and punishment. I feared sin a lot, often times more than I feared God. I thought that God gets extremely angry when we sin and then punishes us for it. I thought sin was something that only made life more difficult as a Christian, in that we had to resist all temptation, hold all anger and frustration inside, think only pure thoughts and say only good and uplifting words. I made it my mission to run from sin that it became a higher priority for me than running to God.
On the other hand I was confused, because at times I wanted to sin. Sin often seems more attractive to us than that which God has to offer. I remember that about two years ago I told myself that I’m going to read through the Bible and make a list of all the things God doesn’t want us to do. So I started with the book of James and underlined all the parts that could be categorized under “do not do.” There is quite a lot I have to say.
The thing is I viewed the nature of God when it comes to sin completely wrong. Does God hate sin? Yes. Is there punishment for sin? Yes. God created man and woman whom He loves, but then sin, that which He hates, entered that which He loves. So God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us. So now that which He hates inside of us, has been settled and paid for. So now God can love us without hating that which is inside of us, because as a Christian He is inside of us. Does this mean that as Christians we can do whatever we want, because the wages of our sinful actions have already been paid for? No. As Christians God truly do call us into living righteously. It’s written throughout the Bible. God wants us to live a life distinct from this world. As Christians it is our responsibility to say no to sin.
The thing is though, it is impossible for us to run from sin and actually overcome it on our own. Ravi Zacharias said the following in one of his sermons: “The heart is desperately wicked and will rationalize itself into justifying anything. The human heart is capable of the most extreme things when it is untamed and ungoverned. The problem is not merely moral, the problem is spiritual. This is the unique distinctive teaching of Christ, that your heart and mine is actually capable of limitless thoughts and acts and the Bible calls it sin, meaning very simply the violation of purpose, the violation of God’s purpose for your life and mine.”
I have failed miserably at attempting to run away from sin and it really frustrated me, because isn’t my heart supposed to be transformed as a Christian? Shouldn’t my mind be renewed? After all I have been a Christian for almost ten years. You know I realized that even though there are so many Christians all declaring the name of one God, they all have different views of who the Christian God is. It can be small differences or big differences. Christians might all agree that God wants us to be humble, but what humility is for one person might be the definition of conceited for the other.
And so I viewed sin in a different light. I saw God as a God who is very strict, who demanded obedience from us and had no tolerance for sin. Oh I had it so wrong. It wasn’t too long ago that the Holy Spirit actually opened my eyes to the nature of God when it comes to sin and it really almost brought me to tears. God doesn’t look at us waiting to punish us when we do wrong. He doesn’t enjoy reprimanding us when we overstep the boundaries. The best way I can explain it is like this.
First of all God is a loving God, He is love and all His actions, words and guidance flows from His limitless storage of love. So when God tells us to not look lustfully at a woman or a man, to not pursue money, to not be prideful or to not let ourselves be controlled by things or substances, He does not do it out of anything but complete love towards us. God is simply saying, and here is what really got to me:
As the One who created you, I know and have designed your entire life. I can see your future. I can see the consequences of your present actions in two weeks’ time and in two years’ time. As God, I love you so much and I only want the best for you. I have the best life for you, I have the most fulfilling and purpose-filled life for you and I really want you to have and experience this life. Is it free of pain or struggle? No, but in such a sinful world your life will be a lot more painful and sad if you attempt it without me. So I have given you these guidelines, stay with them and don’t do or indulge in the things of this world, because they seem fulfilling yet point you in a direction that leads to shame, guilt, despair, emptiness and ultimately destruction. Trust me when I say don’t do these things, because I only do it out of love. Trust me, because I am God and I know what is best for you.
When I realized that God is just trying to keep me in this amazing plan He has for my life, I understood the problem with sin. It’s not an alternative to God’s word. It’s opposite to His word and when we choose to sin, we are actually saying “God I got this, I will make my own decisions, because I know what is best.” When we see it like this we realize how stupid we are when we choose sin over trusting the guidance of God. And guess what? We don’t have to fear the wages of our sin, because Jesus died for it. And so, yes we do run from sin, but this is only initiated out of our pursuit of Christ. God’s grace has always overwhelmed our greatest acts of sinfulness. As Christians we don’t pursue righteousness because we want to be accepted and loved by God. On the contrary, we pursue righteousness because we are accepted and loved by God. And we will always be loved and accepted by Him, because His love and acceptance is not determined by what we do, rather it is determined by what Jesus did and declared finished.