There’s All Kinds Of Ways Of Sinning

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Sin goes to the core of human nature, but the actual sins we commit, look drastically different from those of someone else. To the point that we might be tempted to think, I don’t want to be with all the bad people, so I’m camping out here where all the good people like me hang out. If the place we’re talking about is church, we’ve missed the point.

Church is not a place filled with good people. Rather, it’s filled with forgiven people, and we’re all in process, trying to learn how to become like our Father who adopted us into His family.

We should have special affinity for our brothers and sisters in the family of God, but not because they are good people, not because I think I’m one of the good people.

As people saved by grace, Christians should, in fact, live by grace, too. That’s what Paul says in Colossians:

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (2:6-7)

I find it interesting that thanksgiving is an element of living in grace, but that’s not connected to the main point here. Rather, I think it’s really important to recognize God’s forgiveness. But the problem there, is this: to thank God for His forgiveness, we must also admit our sin and ask for forgiveness.

And if we think we are in the happy group of good people, it’s hard to admit we may have a life that looks different from the guy in prison. But we are both sinners, and we both can be saved by grace.

Our spiritual well-being is dependent upon God, not on the way we pretty up our lives to make us look good. I don’t think we need to turn every sin into a public confession, either, but we should definitely tell God and then thank Him for His forgiveness.

I’ll give you an example. I mentioned here a week or so ago that I’ve been struggling to stay on task. I finally realized that I was giving in to my own personal desires just as surely as if I was doing drugs or watching porn or whatever. Every time I say, I understand what you want me to do, God, but I don’t really want to do that, so I’ll do this other thing, I’m sinning.

No, I haven’t killed anyone or hated anyone or gossiped or got drunk. My sin, though, simply looks different. It is nevertheless, me saying no to God and going my own way.In other words, I am taking the reigns of my life and being my own boss. I’m essentially saying to God that I’ll get around to His agenda when I’m good and ready. Because what I do depends on what I feel like doing.

So, no, my sin won’t look like someone else’s.

But sin, it is.

Like all sin, it is saying no to God, even if I’m saying, Not now, or, Later.

Too often we think of sin as us hurting other people, and certainly there is an element of that. In fact, the consequences of sin can vary greatly, depending on the way we work out our sin.

For instance, Jesus said that to hate someone was as sinful as committing murder. But a murder has immediate and widespread consequences that hatred does not have. Sure, when you hate someone, you might ruin their lives. You might even ruin your own. But not necessarily. On the other hand, if you murder someone, they are dead.

I think of King David with this illustration, because he actually did murder a guy. He basically ordered a hit job, for one reason—he wanted to hide the fact that he was an adulterer. He slept with this guy’s wife and when she got pregnant, he tried a couple ways of covering his tracks that didn’t work. So he had the guy killed, and married his wife.

Later he repented. But the guy was still dead.

The thing that caught my attention, when David was confessing in one of the Psalms, he said, speaking to God,

Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge. (51:4)

Earlier he’d told Nathan the same thing when he confronted David about what he’d done.

All this to say, I think we too often see our sin as an offense against people. In our society, the central principle seems to be, Do no harm. So if our sin is a “victimless crime” in which no one else is hurt, we sort of have adopted the idea that it’s not so bad. Not really sin. It’s like the “little white lie” concept, as if the little lie is not really sin.

Maybe the little act of stealing, like pirating books or using images that aren’t ours, falls into this category. We tell ourselves things like, nobody cares, I’m sure they can afford it. That sort of thing.

The real issue is what James says in chapter 4 of his book: “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (v. 17)

To know the right thing to do and then choose to go our own way, not God’s right way, is sin. No matter how it might look to other people.

Published in: on August 29, 2019 at 5:02 pm  Comments (8)  
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  1. I like the analogy C.S. Lewis made in Mere Christianity. We’re like ships. It’s not enough for a ship to keep from ramming into the others. Unless it remains seaworthy and remains on course it won’t arrive safely at the right port.

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  2. If we accept that, by definition, Sin is basically any transgression of God’s Law, we are immediately confronted by a whole host of difficulties.
    Such as …..

    Where an individual acknowledges they are a sinner, does everything in their power to be right with their god and yet will still be going to Hell simply because of history and geography – they were born at the wrong time and in the wrong place and thus, ended up being indoctrinated into worshiping the wrong god.

    Sadly, it gets worse….

    Even if one is fortunate to have been one of the ”Blessed” and are worshiping the right god, one might still very well be part of the wrong sect of this religion.

    This too,will have fatal repercussions as it is also grounds for being banished to Hell on Judgement Day. Something we are constantly told by certain members of the numerous sects who are all at pains to emphasise that their particular sect is the correct one!

    The Cathars, for example, were considered heretics, and the Right Sect of the day went to great lengths to exterminate them.

    Of course, some time later, it was realised that this sect, Catholicism, was, according to one named Luther, also heretical and caused the great Christian schism.

    So now we have thousands of Protestant sects, many with their own particular brand of interpreting Scripture.

    This has resulted in even greater complications and misunderstanding. as with thousands of sects all claiming that this ”Truth” belongs to them, and them alone how is the uninitiated supposed to identify the correct religious sect, especially when much of this supposed correctness is based on interpretation of Scripture and specific doctrine and creeds?

    Take the Christadelphians for example.
    They are non-Trinitarian, yet consider themselves wholly (holy?) Christian.
    Not by Trinitarian Christians, of course, who are adamant that this sect is most definitely not Christian and its members will all be going to Hell.

    How about the differences between Young Earth Creationism and Old Earth Creationism?
    Some of the more strict YEC members believe Old Earthers will be going to Hell.

    Therefore, should we take a strict literalist view of the bible, deem it inerrant and follow it to the letter, or can one run the risk of indulging in Sin, being regarded as a Sinner, by availing oneself of the expert judgement of Divinely Inspired Clergy who specialize in Hermeneutics and Exegesis to guide us?

    Based on the information available, and no matter how sincere one may be regarding one’s faith, and a fervent desire to avoid Sin, the whole religious smorgasbord seems more like a ”Crap Shoot” than anything else.


    • Good questions. As someone brought up in a devoutly religious family and baptized at age 6, I also struggled with them.

      As far as following the Biblical commands it is impossible however hard we try. Hence the need for grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.


      • Yes, but Catholics believe that Grace and Works are crucial.
        Do you consider Christodelphians are ”Proper” Christians or not?
        How about Young Earth Creationists?
        What is your view of such people?
        And do you consider Muslims and Jews are going to Hell?
        These are important questions and they need to be answered. How do you view such people?


    • Sorry for the delay in answering, Ark. I do think your questions are sincere and understandable, but the problem is with your first line: the definition of sin. Sin is not a thing we do (or say or think). It’s actually the rebellion in our heart that makes us do acts of sin. In other words, we aren’t sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we are sinners.

      I don’t listen much to what various groups say about sin unless it co-insides with what the Bible says. The Bible is not complicated, though it is complex. But there are plain things that are clear and if a person is a Christian, they won’t disagree with those things (no matter what denomination they come from). People who call themselves Christians, but aren’t, have been around for as long as there have been Christians. The gospel writers addressed the issue in some of their letters, calling them things like false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing and clouds without rain. They disturbed churches with their false ideas, and the letters were often corrective: don’t listen to them, remember what you know, don’t get sidetracked, stand firm.

      So we shouldn’t be surprised that there are still false teachers.

      I know God has revealed Himself and that we can all come to an understanding of how we can enter into a relationship with Him. He isn’t going to withhold that from one single person, but the fact is, not everyone wants to know God or come to Him. This from Romans 1: “that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” The verse before this says there are men who “suppress the truth,” and a few verses later, “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

      All this to say, the issue isn’t really about “religion.” Rather, it’s about knowing God. Paul himself said this a number of times. He was very religious before he became a Christ follower. After knowing Christ, he said all the religious stuff was rubbish. So, yes, trying to figure out what right things to do? that’s a crap shoot (and it will all be wrong). But knowing Christ and through Him, God the Father? Paul says it again: Christ is life. (His words: “To me to live is Christ”).



      • Sorry, this is manifestly incorrect.
        Sin is regarded as any transgression against the Law of Yahweh. (Your god).
        In the mythological tale of Genesis, Adam and Eve transgressed and were thus deemed sinners and banished from the garden.
        According to the man-made doctrine of original sin, all subsequent human beings are born sinners, suffering from The Stain of Adam, or whatever particular adjective you wish to attach.
        Of course, after this it varies depending on which sect of Christianity one follows.
        However,Hell is the final destination for all those who are not following the ”right religion” and this includes the right sect within that particular religion – in this case Christianity.


  3. I nominated you for a Blogger Recognition Award. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Am blessed with this message.

    On Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 00:03 A Christian Worldview of Fiction wrote:

    > Rebecca LuElla Miller posted: ” Photo by from Pexels Sin > goes to the core of human nature, but the actual sins we commit, look > drastically different from those of someone else. To the point that we > might be tempted to think, I don’t want to be with all the bad people, ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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