As I’ve considered how to write this series of posts on sin, guilt, and shame, I’ve come up against a bit of a problem, especially around the topic of sin. You see, I can’t write about sin as though it is something out there, separate from me.
It would be pretty easy (and would feel pretty good, wouldn’t it?) to point to the problems in others or in the world-at-large if I didn’t also suffer from the same malady. But the reality is that I do suffer from it. And as soon as I begin to wax eloquent on the topic through my writing, the Lord provides an opportunity to practice what I’m preaching.
You believe others ought to fight the sin that is within them. Have you noticed this particular area in your life that you’ve been ignoring? This particular instance of selfishness? Your latest indulgence? The pride that creeps in even as you write against sinful pride?
Sometimes such words are the gentle nudge of my loving heavenly Father, brimming with parental affection: Dear daughter, flee from these things. And look to My provision for you in Jesus.
Other times they are an attack of the accuser, laced with poison and deceit: You can’t write about sin. You’re filth yourself. A hypocrite. A self-righteous prig. A joke. Stop thinking you have any right to tell others what to do.
The Lord’s conviction compels me both to deal with my sin as the Spirit brings it to light and to not shrink back from speaking Truth, especially in the midst of a culture that glories in sin and shuns true righteousness. God’s desire is my repentance and joy in Christ, empowering me then to live in further obedience.
The accuser seeks to stop the work of God in me by keeping me weighed down with sin, continuing in despair rather than finding repentance, and using any opportunity to keep me from doing whatever it is that the Lord is calling me to do.
And so the task is laid before me: to be killing sin in me even as I write about it here to you.
The writing about it is, in fact, part of how the Lord is working on me. Perhaps that’s part of the reason that the going gets tough and the writing gets sparse. It’s uncomfortable. Submitting to the Lord’s discipline, the Spirit’s scrutinizing work on my heart, is hard. And I’m often tired. A little lazy. A bit too easily–or is it eagerly?–distracted.
Hebrews 4:13 reminds me: “…there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” I may cringe at the invitation to to see what’s in my heart. But that doesn’t keep the Lord from seeing it. It’s all open before Him.
And as a Christian, as one who has trusted in Christ’s death and resurrection on my behalf, I have a great comfort and assurance in the verses that follow:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:14-16
It would “be nice” if I could talk about sin from a position of real accomplishment, like I’m some kind of expert on the subject. Then I might feel qualified to write about it. But did you read the words from Hebrews? Jesus is the only One in that position, the only One truly qualified by virtue of the fact that He, being fully God and fully man, has been tempted in all things, yet without sin.
What you get here, my friends, is a fellow sinner attempting to relay the Truth handed down by the One whose words on the subject actually matter, actually carry weight, actually give life. As this series continues, keep that at the forefront of your minds.
Soon we’ll dive in to what sin is. But for now, as you may have guessed, I’m working up the courage both write about it and to submit myself to the Lord’s work on my heart through that process.
Thanks for joining me in this process. May the Lord be at work in us all for His glory. And may we not shrink from that work but instead draw near to the throne of grace with confidence, finding mercy and help in our need. As we move on to discuss sin more deeply, we’ll sure need it!
Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below–I’d truly love to hear from you!