Sin and Its Ineffectual Hold

Genesis 3:6, 11

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

 

I can’t remember the last time I was in church I and heard the word sin not being used ambiguously. Most of the time the only time I hear it is when a brief mention of Jesus dying for ours. When people are asked about sin, they usually list the 10 commandments. I even remember seeing an episode of the Family Feud and the question was how many of the 10 commandments do you break in a day or something like that. One person said six and the audience went wild, the host jokingly asked which of the six you broke today. To be honest no one truly keeps count but subconsciously I believe that we are always aware of them.

We claim to follow the Ten Commandments by just doing the golden rule. We easily believe that living the Christian life or just a good life is to not do the things that the commandments say not to do. We hate rules but we cling to them tightly. We miss the whole point as we hold the list up to closely. We miss the point of God’s purpose for giving the law in the first place. We miss the point when God says that man shall live by faith alone. We miss the point Jesus makes with the rich young ruler and the Sermon on the Mount. The Apostle Paul refers to the law as a guardian until Christ came. The law came to show us our sins and to increase sin so that all would be without excuse. The Law is complete and whole just as the fruit of the spirit, you can’t do just one, it’s all or nothing. Just as you can’t have one fruit without having love, neither can you break one commandment without breaking the first one.

Jesus furthermore shows that we have a superficial view of the Law. It is because we first don’t understand or wish not to understand its totality and that we see it at a surface level only that we think we are doing well and are good. Thus we subconsciously believe deep down that we really aren’t that bad. But Jesus kicks over the rock in the Sermon on the Mount to reveal that the Law is deeper than that because sin is more than actions. Jesus says that adultery is lust, murder is hate even name calling is murder, and he extends love beyond our shallow understanding of neighbor to our enemies. Jesus even say that we need to be perfect as our father in heaven is perfect; impossible! This is the laws purpose, to destroy all the self-made temples making everyone equal. But there is something much more than that, he pulls back the covers of sin’s core by attacking our sense of justice.   When he addresses loving our enemies, retaliation, turning the other cheek, giving to those who both ask and steal. The core of sin is replacing God on throne with ourselves. Our lust for self-defense shows who we have the ultimate faith in. You say that not defending yourself is crazy? The Gospel is a message of God loving his enemies and not defending himself. You say it doesn’t work? Dr. Martin Luther King would definitely disagree with you.

So this is the Ten Commandments purpose to saw us our need and bring us to humility’s door but is it really that bad? We would think this if we are still caught up on our external actions. So ask yourself, why did people question Jesus so much? What are their reasons for doing so? In some instances the scriptures tells us why, to justify themselves.

Justify:

show or prove to be right or reasonable. “the person appointed has fully justified our confidence” synonyms:       give grounds for, give reasons for, give a justification for, explain, give an explanation for, account for; defend, answer for, vindicate

 

All that we do in this world is to gain and maintain justification. In order to justify ourselves we turn to our virtues. We describe ourselves by them or describe ourselves against them. Our main goal is to be justified at all cost. We either list what we have done or what we do or what we don’t do. At any case we are at the center because justification seeks preservation of what is most important.   So why do we do what we do can only be answered by what motivates us, as the expression is just the fruit.

 

Our salvation will always self-destruct if it is based on our good with or without a “good” heart because all of our actions are from sin’s core.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship

 

We see the ten commandments as virtues to be kept and protected, so lets examine virtues. Why would a person tell the truth? Is it really because they just love truth? Or is it in their best interest to tell the truth? What happens if they don’t? What happens if they do? We go through all of these questions but how often is God considered? Our decisions rotate around what is most important to us. We lie out of fear and tell the truth out of pride; the two things we use to justify moving God out of the center to replace Him with us. We fear God will get it wrong and we know best; fear and pride kills faith and anything not done in faith is sin.   Anything not done for the glory of God alone is sin. We don’t want to lose our justification (fear) and we should be loved because of blank (pride). Our pride accuses God of not being God and our fear accuses God of not being God.

 

Until we are honest about who we are and our natural responses, we will never keep the first commandment because we will just be merely politely thankful and not compelled to genuine love for God. As long as we truly believe that we have been forgiven little, we will love little. Sin didn’t enter into the world because Adam and Eve ate a piece of fruit. Sin came because two people trusted themselves more than God. They broke the first commandment. Now do we see our need for a substitute for a sin we can’t seem to stop on our own? To see God, you first have to tear down the image of ourselves being God and anyone or thing we make supreme. That’s what the cross does but now we use virtues, morality and tolerance; all while not understanding that it’s deeper than that.

 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ – Matthew 7:21-23

 

The one thing about the people Jesus is referring to that we all miss when we read this that these people were keeping track of their good deeds. Also their deeds never extend to the service of others’ interest in genuine love of God not self. We see these people as justified to enter into heaven because they earned it. We all have been asked the question, “if God asked why I should let you into heaven what would you say? ” We all have a self-righteous and self – justified answer. So we don’t see anything wrong with that because we all do it but as mama said “just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean its right”. Since I don’t want anybody to take my word for how this affects us, hear the command of Jesus. “Believers” who keep a mental record of their good deeds do so because they believe that they will have to defend themselves one day. Those that Jesus spoke of sought to justify themselves by their own virtues, having no faith in Christ. We are forgiven, set free, redeemed, reconciled, and righteous, justified, and our names are written in heaven now; and no man or devil can bring charges against you.   We have nothing to earn because Jesus earned it all. The good we do is from God, for God, because of God for the body of Christ.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

God called out to Adam not because God couldn’t find him, but to show Adam where he was and to give hope. Adam’s response shows both fear and pride; his sin. The issue is not that “nobody’s perfect” but that we are pride-fully imperfect and dare anyone to say anything about it. So we arrogantly and ignorantly hide behind God who demands perfection and others imperfections so we even condemn the body for self-correcting. In Christ we are made perfect and are being made into the perfect image of Jesus. Our progression to this glorification is through a deepening of our understanding of the Gospel; that on our own we are far from perfect and our infinite flaws has a price that needs to be paid. Perfection is not merely defiled by mistakes and forgetfulness but by the sinfulness of our hearts. Our imperfections rest on fear and pride, which infect our most noble of deeds to the most selfish actions. We cannot escape it as it will take a miracle to redeem us; that miracle is Jesus Christ. So we have the bad news and the good news, they both must be told. We must also know without a doubt that the good news we had no hand in it and we can’t lose it.

Sin is so dangerous like a killer disease. And it infects everything about us, as it rearranges our origins. The one thing we shy away from is the one thing that needs to be talked about. Not to pile on guilt but to raise awareness. This awareness does something to the eyes when they look at Jesus Christ.   Something that is presently not there, because “out of sight out of mind”.   We pretend sin is not there even though the very nature of the gospel screams its presence. This problem is like having two countries infected with a deadly disease that no one wants to mention.

We generally have two approaches and they both end in death. It’s like how the world talks about Aids/HIV, we either talk very lightly about it because we don’t want to start a panic. We hold back details because it’s such a personal and sometimes private problem.   We don’t want to make people feel bad about their mistakes nor do want to invade their privacy even though the disease has a dangerous effect on a community. So we only give out information about what a healthy person looks like. So millions say, I’m healthy, I don’t look sick, I have no sores, I have energy, things are going well for me; so I must be fine. And yet they are rioting from the inside out as they pass on the virus and encourage dangerous acts.

The first approach is that we quarantine off sections of society that is different and strike fear into people. We judge people which is condemning them for their faults and then pronouncing a sentence of death. Their death is a life of separation, we put them in the “unclean” camp and we say that only those that are just like us are clean. So those that declare themselves clean don’t trust each other to be clean and the witch hunts begin. The suffering die and the moral commit genocide.

The first approach is out of fear of man, our need for approval and acceptance by others, society, and ourselves. This fear is only concern about self-preservation and at its core it’s sinful. The second approach is out of pride of self, as we judge others and through condemnations we build ourselves up. We spread information not to education but to separate. We offer what is wrong without ever giving solutions, not until others submit to us. In its self-righteousness lays prideful sin. So we all die because we refuse to see ourselves as sinners, so the disease spreads like fire and carbon dioxide gas. Sometimes it’s obvious and other times we die quietly alone. A man named Jonathan Edwards talked about this but in a different way. He called it the nature of virtue. Basically no matter how well-meaning our approach is, at its base it is flawed and sinful. It’s like pretending to not have HIV and spreading it others or condemning people to shame so they won’t admit it. The bible beaters do it all to save themselves, but ultimately people die due to shame and the proud die from ignorance.

Adam’s sin of passivity has taught the world that men are to run from being responsible. His void has shown the world to be important you must be like a man. So that’s what women strive to be in order to run from Eve’s fate of sinning and take Adam’s empty space. Some man seek to be boys to avoid sin’s consequence of toiling, others seek to dominate to avoid another fall. Some women seek to be attached to man in order to not repeat the past mistakes. Whatever we choose to do, at the bottom we are shouting; “we’re naked! Grab the leaves to save us from the built-in purposes and weaknesses” to justify our worthiness. We still fall down because we think that our solutions are better than God’s purposes, this is original sin; disobedience that puts us on the throne. We roam the earth with one hand on a crown that doesn’t fit and the other holding up pants that don’t fit; while trying to do workmanships that don’t fit. Fish submit to the ocean and acknowledges it’s dominion over it. Birds submit to the air and acknowledges it’s dominion over it. These creatures the creator created within them a known purpose and a known ruler of that purpose. In their submission, they find life in what is weighty and glorious. Their workmanship is to reflect the glory of the ocean and sky, to which reflects back to their creator. They are free in being what the creator made them to be through naming. While we, the creature try to create our purpose and submit to things that don’t know our workmanship.

We enslave ourselves to things that can’t give life nor give direction. We seek death just as a fish who thinks it’s freeing to choose to fly and a bird who is choosing to swim. We are telling the wrong ruler to ruler over us. That ruler can’t because it can’t change it’s creator. So nature groans for the return of the creator to set things back in order. We are mirrors, created as image bearers born to reflect God’s glory but we are broken. We break every time we turn in on ourselves to reflect our glory. Cursed with bad luck, 7 times 70 years of it unless someone comes to unfold us and repair the separation. We are new and when we reflect, God sees no crack. Sin has cracked us all and our attempts to repair ourselves isn’t working. Only God can do the impossible and it is finished in Jesus Christ. Christianity has nothing to do with making bad people good or making alright people better. The Christianity has a moral aspect but it’s not moralism at all. The gospel is a miracle at it’s core. Jesus came to perform the great exchange and he did it without one person on earth asking for it; it is a gift. No one pulled themselves up by their boot straps. To be blunt we all received welfare as we all have a need to be met. Jesus gave life to the dead.

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