Friday, October 23, 2009

The Insidiousness of Sin

I've been reading "Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate" by Jerry Bridges and meeting to discuss the book with a group of women on Saturday mornings.  Let's just say this book is smacking me right in the face-- in a good, but uncomfortable, way.  If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it.  

The basic premise is that we as evangelical Christians are very good at recognizing sin in other people and in society at large, especially the "big sins" that also double as hot-button social issues.  But we are not as good at examining the subtle sins in our own lives and dealing with them.  Bridges addresses sins such as ungodliness, anxiety and frustration, discontentment, unthankfulness, pride, selfishness, and the list goes on.  We all struggle with these sins, but if we hope to grow in Christian maturity, we have to recognize them as sin and turn those areas over to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Reading this book and examining different circumstances in my own life, I've come to realize that I have downplayed the seriousness of sin.  I've tended to pass the buck on to God and his supralapsarian sovereignty.  Yes, sure, we are responsible for sin, but God is ultimately responsible for electing to make us beings who would sin.  (I work some pretty fantastic mental gymnastics in this regard.)  I've also, sort of, come to the conclusion that I probably don't really believe in hell (how's that for hedging?).  I've done all of this in my mind just so I can sleep at night and keep myself on decent terms with God.  

But then... wow, I see just how destructive my own sin is.  How little sins, un-confronted and unconfessed, can drive deep wedges in relationships over the years.  It's like termites, gnawing away unseen at the foundation until the house collapses.  Or Chinese water torture... drip... drip... drip... Nothing drastic, but just as devastating.  I've been convicted of some major sin issues in my life, and it's never pleasant to realize the extent of one's guilt.  And yet, what a glorious reminder of how amazing grace is.  To be reminded once again of just how evil my heart is, and how far from God I am, and how I would be stuck here if it weren't for the cross.  

The best part is the assurance that God still loves me, even though I feel like a dirty, broken-down piece of crap.  I don't understand the balance between His justice and His mercy (Who does?  Who ever will?), but I'm thankful that He extends to me His mercy even as His justice dictates that I must live with the consequences of my sin in this present world.