Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Sin ...

In many circles, it is an outdated word.

It is a harsh word, a severe word. It is politically incorrect. Some would argue it is a mean-spirited word, wrangled only by the hateful.

We would much rather use words like "issues" or even "struggles" because they reduce the culpability. And maybe through these linguistic gymnastics, we can ignore the devastation our own sin wreaks on others and ourselves.

In a recent bible study with orphanage teens, the subject of sin arose. And these hard-edged youth struggled to understand the concept of sin. It was not a part of their social code and therefore they possessed little ability to grasp the cause and effect of sin. (That the "wages of sin is death.") They struggled to even define examples of what true sin is.

In this day and age, are we so different from the Hungarian orphans? Do even those of us who bear the name "Christian" truly grasp the life-massacreing, soul-searing nature of sin?

Hebrews 3:13 states, "But instead warn (admonish, urge and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened (into settled rebellion) by the deceitfulness of sin -- (that is,) by the fraudulence, the stategem, the trickery, which the delusive glamor his sin may play on him." (Amplified)

Sin does not lie placidly by the wayside waiting for us to wander accidentally into it. It is as active as the con-man out to secure the long con, toying with our affections, playing on our insecurities, strategizing on our weaknesses. No matter how small a sin, each works insidiously to drive one more nail in the coffin for our faith.

We do not have to look far to find examples. From pastors who have fallen into sexual sin, to church ladies consumed by their own venomous gossip, to the bitter heart who can only lash out in hate --- to the reality of me in my deepest places. Sin takes its toll. And its repurcussions ripple out like spiked lashes on the backs of family and friends. John Donne was correct when he wrote,"No man is an island."

We live in a battlezone, but scarcely realize it. We catch glimpses of it in some moments and pray eanestly for a day, and as quickly as we begin, we forget and slip into the mundane cares of the world that seem so pressing.

In Holy Sonnet 19, John Donne captures my own struggle with faithfulness and facing sin:

Oh, to vex me, contraries meet in one:
Inconstancy unnaturally hath begot
A constant habit; that when I would not
I change in vows, and in devotion.
As humorous is my contrition
As my profane love, and as soon forgot:
As riddlingly distempered, cold and hot,
As praying, as mute; as infinite, as none.
I durst not view heaven yesterday; and today
In prayers and flattering speeches I court God:
Tomorrow I quake with true fear of his rod.
So my devout fits come and go away
Like a fantastic ague; save that here
Those are my best days, when I shake with feare.

As Hebrews 3:13 admonishes, may we grasp an understanding of nature of sin, and, "as long as it is called today" actively encourage and urge one another to be on the alert, lifting all those dear to us up to our Lord in prayer, that he might protect us from the Enemy's schemes.

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