Thursday, February 02, 2012

Four Insights About Facts of Sin


(Michelangelo's depiction of the Sin of Adam and Eve)
Sin is not a very popular topic to talk about. Even Christians are hesitant in talking about sin. Yet, sin is a huge topic with regards to Christian Theology. Barbara Brown Taylor, one of the most popular preachers in the evangelical world even calls sin the 'lost language of salvation.' The thrust of her arguments is about modern preachers who shy away from tackling the topic of sin. I agree with Taylor that sin is not something to be swept under our carpets of decency. It is to be exposed out in the open so that the light of Christ can come and shine, cleanse, and make us whole once again.

Norm Wakefield makes four interesting insights about sin which I thought is worth sharing.

1) Sinning: A symptom of a deeper need

Wakefield points out the way the Apostle Paul uses the word 'sin' in the epistles. The word 'sin' is used as a noun 40 times, and only once as a noun. Nouns essentially point to the source, while verbs point to the symptoms. In other words, one should not be distracted by the bad deeds, evil actions, without dealing with the source of the problem: Sin.

2) Sin: It attaches itself to a legitimate need

This is what makes sin such a dangerous thing. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden that senses Eve's desire for the luscious fruit. It puts in evil thoughts and seduces the innocent couple to disobey God. What makes temptations like these extremely dangerous is that it is evil but appears like a valid need. Wakefield then highlights the temptation of sexual sins via the need of intimacy. Like a man who is newly married, but worked long hours physically away from his wife, gets seduced by an attractive colleague in the workplace. The need for intimacy is valid, but the supply of the need through adulterous thoughts is evil.

3) Nature of Sin: False Love

The third insight from Wakefield is about the way that sin continues to destroy the true picture of love. The ways are via deceit, distraction, distortion, and ultimately destruction.  The Greek word for 'sin' is to miss the mark. Legitimate needs when mixed with sin will end up distorted. It redefines what love is. It tricks the mind to think that loving self is better than loving others. It turns something good into something less than good, before turning it into something completely bad.

4) Sin Undermines Trust in God, and makes Man Doubt God's Ability to Save

This fourth insight from Wakefield presents the real objective of sin.  The devil knows that when man is separated from God, God hurts. Even though Christ has died for all mankind, and has defeated death and the evil ones at the Cross, sin continues to wreak havoc by sowing seeds of doubt in people. Even believers can be duped into thinking that the Cross of Christ is not enough.

Sin is a huge topic. As I think about the four insights, here are four recommendations on what we can do to deal with each of them.

Firstly, recognize that our legitimate needs have to be met by legitimate sources. When in doubt, don't. It comes back to trust in God to meet our legitimate needs. We must focus on the source rather than the symptoms.

Secondly, discernment is key. Not everything that looks good means it is good. We need to peel away false layers presented to us, through prayer, consultation, and the keeping of God's Word in our hearts.

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Ps 119:11)

Thirdly, we need to distinguish true love from false love. Read through 1 Corinthians 13. Meditate on the fruit of love in Galations 5:22-26.

Fourthly, trust God. Someone once said:

"Don't tell God how Big your storm is, tell the Storm how Big your God is."

Our God is higher than any other. Jesus is our Saviour, our Hope, our Redeemer, and our Lord. Wait for Him.

"As health expels disease, and light swallows up darkness, and life conquers death, the indwelling of Christ through the Spirit is the health and light and life of the soul." (Andrew Murray) 



Anonymous said...

Are sins and sufferings closely connected? And how does one stay true to God if you are weak in health?

Conrade Yap said...

@Anonymous, sins and suffering are connected in some way. If we go back to the original sin, the suffering of 'toil' comes as a result of Adam/Eve's disobedience. Even the devil has been cursed.

Having said that, it is not always the case that sins lead to suffering, or suffering is some kind of punishment for sin. We cannot build whole doctrines to try to connect sin and suffering. Rather, we acknowledge we are in a fallen world, where people are sinners. Health wise, we are to take care of our physical selves as best as possible. More importantly, we need to maintain a holistic health, where mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, we can be healthy.


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