What is sin? At one end of the scale it is pretty clear. The Ten Commandments, written by the finger of God on tablets of stone, are black & white: don’t murder; don’t commit adultery, etc.
At the other end of the scale, Jesus demands so much more. In Matthew ch. 5 Jesus says, “if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgement” (vs. 22); “anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (vs. 28)
James even highlights (in 4:17) that there is a sin of omission: “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it”.
This is all pretty challenging! Where do you draw the line? How do you know when you are sinning?
Where’s our focus?
If we focus simply on ‘not sinning’ our human nature tends to default to compromise – the preferred benchmark is how other people behave – the creeping decay in our lives goes unnoticed by us.
However the whole of the New Testament points to a transformed life in Christ, not just sinning less. We are people who are being changed to be more and more like the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18). This was prophesied by Ezekiel (36:26-27).
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”
If we have a tender, responsive heart we can be confident that we will know when we are doing something that is spoiling our relationship and walk with the Lord:
“If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” (Romans 14:23)
The reason I will want to address my sin is because the sweetness and the beauty of my relationship with the Lord means so much more to me.
Sometimes things we have done for years suddenly don’t feel OK. Once the Lord has highlighted something in our lives – we have to confront it and deal with it if we want to move on in our personal journey.
Am I prepared to yield to all that the Lord is doing in my life? Is this more important than holding on to ‘guilty pleasures’, ‘entrenched views’, ‘unforgiveness’, ‘anger’, ‘unhelpful relationships’ ……
“Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies.” (Psalm 24:3-4)
How high do I want to climb?
Mike Wendes, January 2018