Let’s say that you are a new Christian, earnest and eager to follow the narrow path and repent of sin and all its damaging consequences. Which is a good goal. Both the Greek and Hebrew words for sin mean to miss the mark. The mark being union with God. Since union with God is the full fruit of redemption and sin means missing that fruit, avoiding sin is a worthwhile goal. But how to do that?
Well, in general, there are three paths you can take. One will take you to God. One will take you destruction. And one will get you somewhere between the two. Allow me to explain these paths and you see if you can pick out which is which.
The first path is one favored by many in the church. It is to identify sin and target it for elimination. It may mean that you refrain from engaging in worldly activities like drinking, swearing, watching questionable movies, hanging out with friends who are up to no good and the like. Perhaps you get involved in a small group or pursue relationships with more mature Christians as a way of building accountability for yourself.
This path does have its uses, particularly for those who are new to the faith. When a person converts to Christianity, it means adopting a new identity and with it, a new way of life. If your old identity was grounded in being a promiscuous partier who was known for your outrageous antics, it may be necessary to swear off those old behaviors in order to make room for your new identity in Christ.
The danger of this path is that identifying and eliminating sin can become the way you live out your faith and the basis of your Christian identity. Those on this path are too often the public face of the church, defined by what it is vocally against. In fact, the church has no end of self appointed gatekeepers for whom a willingness to identify and target sin for elimination is synonymous with being a faithful Christian. They think they are protecting the church when really all they are doing is attempting to lock everyone in the nursery. Continue reading “Three Sinful Paths”
When the subject of sin comes up – specifically other people’s sin – a lot of people have one go-to-verse/argument: “even Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to ‘go and sin no more’.” These words are particularly helpful when being confronted with something else Jesus said: “do not judge lest you be judged.” Unfortunately, when Jesus spoke those words, he neglected to add all of the … Continue reading Addressing Sin the Biblical Way
This week we’ve been talking about our dark side and why we don’t need to fear or reject it. Yesterday we talked about bringing our dark side to God. Today, we look how doing this is the key to being able to fulfill our call to be the light of the world. We Christians have a real problem dealing with the sin and darkness of … Continue reading Being Light to a Darkened World
Yesterday I wrote about how denying and suppressing our dark side turns us into hypocrites in the ancient Greek sense – ie play-actors at life. Using Godly actions to cover and suppress our dark side turns us into white-washed graves. This was the problem which Jesus criticized the religious rulers of his day for. Today, I want to discuss why we don’t have to be … Continue reading Facing Our Dark Side
Many research telescopes have lenses made up of multiple mirrors. Each individual mirror must be pointed in exactly the right direction to focus the light they gather into a clear picture. By using many smaller mirrors, telescope lenses can be made much more economically and much larger than is possible with a single, large lens. The only drawback is that if one of the mirrors … Continue reading Why We Sin
In the minds of many people, the story of Christianity starts at the fall -with sin and our need for a savior. But that’s not true. The start of the Christian story is the secret of our true identities. We are image bearers. Before we are sinners. Before we need a savior. We are a people who bear the very image of God as our identity. When we skip over this truth and go straight to our sin, we allow the work of the enemy rather than the work of God to define us.
Too many Christians participate with this deception of seeing ourselves primarily as sinners. Perhaps this is because sin is what is easiest for us to see from the outside looking in. In scripture sin is usually spoken of in terms of being unclean, dirty, filthy. Sin obscures that core of who we were created to be – images of God himself. But sin can’t change it or take it away. Think of it like a diamond that gets left in a tide pool and becomes encrusted with mud, bits of shells, plant materials, maybe even eaten and crapped back out. The diamond is still there, unchanged. But it has been completely encrusted with filth until there is no remaining visible sign of it’s existence. There are many verses in scripture which speak of our sins being washed away. We are washed in the blood of Christ. And once those sins are washed away, what is revealed? Who we really are – images of the God who created us.
This is what salvation is. Continue reading “One Sermon*”