Copyright 2005, Joshua Wood
I'm going to shock you, dear readers. I'm going to say something outrageous. Some of you are going to cry. Some of you are going to begin writing emails to me listing dozens of scripture references to refute an argument you think I'm making. Some of you will swear never to read my writings again (you'll be back). Then again, some of you won't care at all.
Ready? Here goes.
I don't think Christians should focus on trying to eliminate the sin in their lives.
I'll allow time for weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Before I get the flood of emails from super-Christians reminding me how hot hell is, let me elaborate.
Things I did NOT say:
-- Sin is not a problem
-- Sin should never be addressed
-- God is willing to compromise his perfect perfection
Breathing easier yet? Good.
Let me start with an illustration, much like my favorite philosopher used to.
Have you ever seen something so disgusting that it made you sick to your stomach? For example, suppose I was outside washing my car without wearing a shirt. It's horrible. Those images get stuck in your head and you can't stop seeing them. You keep telling yourself to stop thinking about it, but it only seems to get worse. Eventually the shirtless fat guy starts dancing seductively while you're trying to have dinner.
Go away, shirtless fat man!
But he won't go.
And so it goes with the mind.
When we spend our time focusing on the sin in our lives, we're, well, focusing on the sin in our lives. And just like those images of the shirtless fat man, the thoughts of our sin and the "pleasure" it brings linger and remain constantly in our thoughts.
A friend was telling me about a sort of accountability group he was involved with. They spent a majority of their time (at least as it was recounted to me) discussing ways to attack a problem. Their time was spent focusing on the very thing they were trying to quit focusing on. Their intentions were honorable. But they certainly didn't make the struggle any easier for themselves.
Use me for example: I'm fat. Not chubby. Not husky. Not big-boned. Fat. But when I diet, I spend too much time thinking about what I can't have. Then I find ways to justify just one handful of Doritos, or just one scoop of ice cream, or just one Pepsi.
I find that my struggles with sin are identical.
As a Christian, it is not my responsibility to eliminate the sin from my life. It's not my job to obsess over my shortcomings. It's not my obligation to feel guilty anymore.
If I am focused on the sin in my life, my focus is tragically misplaced.
In an eternal sense, my sin is taken care of.
In a "working out my faith sense," it's Christ's job, through the Holy Spirit, to root out the sin in my life.
My job is simple: focus solely and completely on Christ.
The promises Christ made to transform us are awesome promises, indeed. Even more unbelievable, in this era of empty promises and broken commitments, is that every day he keeps his promises to us.
Why don't we let him? If we're in Christ, we will be made new by Christ.
And that will allow us to view sin differently.
I'm in no way saying that when we sin we should blow it off. But let's consider the emphasis we give to our sin.
Scripture describes the Church, us - the redeemed, as the bride of Christ. I know that in my marriage when I - rarely - screw up and offend my wife that the relationship is damaged.
Our sin damages our relationship to Christ.
I've found that, more than flowers and jewelry, an honest and sincere acknowledgment and apology have miraculous ways of restoring communication, which enables us to work past my screw up.
I don't need to stay up late trying to find ways to avoid screwing up. I don't need a "Don't Piss Off Your Wife" small group.
I need to continue to love my wife.
As I become more and more one with my wife, those things that hurt her will happen less because I'm more in tune with her mood, her needs, her emotions and her tolerance for my crap.
With Christ, as we turn from our sin and seek him, we're made more and more one with him. Sin will always be present in us until we are made perfect in Christ, but it will have less and less influence and importance in our lives.
And when we do sin, repairing the relationship will be much easier. Not because Christ has different standards, but because we're more comfortable and vulnerable and able to honestly admit our sin.
Christian, stop telling Christ to wait while you accomplish your anti-sin agenda. Your sin has already been dealt with. Your victory has already been won. Stop re-fighting that battle.
Instead, embrace the peace that comes in the stillness after the battle. Claim Christ.
If Christ is your Lord*, sin is not your problem.
* - Lord, not in the "I go to church sometimes and prayed a prayer once", but Lord in the "I've given all of me up to him" way.
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