Friday, November 02, 2007

ignoring sin

I think one of the biggest hindrances to knowing and experiencing the love of God together in communion as God's people is our failure to deal with sin issues. In our evangelical circles so much of the time there is a strong belief in "eternal security" in the sense that once someone makes a commitment to Christ and is really converted, then they're safe (and more or less sound, might be added). Whatever other reasons there are, I think that we too often ignore sins and issues that need to be dealt with.

Love does cover over a multitude of sins, as Scripture tells us. But we're also told not to let any brother or sister become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, but to help each other daily.

We're all inherently part of the problem. Therefore we must always be seeking to deal with sin issues in our own lives, before we can be helpful to others.

When we see another sinning, or perhaps sinning, we can pray for them, and John tells us that God will give them life. There is also a time to prayerfully come alongside them, ask them questions, listen to them- though I think we shouldn't be in a hurry to do this. There ought to be sustained prayer beforehand. Of course the nature of the issue comes into play here as well.

Scripture indicates that sweeping sin under the rug does not mean it will go away. It will only grow and defile others. As Bonhoeffer points out, sin in the fellowship even when unknown to all except to the one sinning, is damaging to the fellowship. This is one major reason why too often we seem to know so little of the love and life of God in Jesus among us.

But we must start with ourselves. Are we ignoring sin in our own lives? Are we excusing it and justifying ourselves in it? Or are we confessing it to God, and if necessary to another, one we've offended? Are we seeking by God's grace to forsake it and go on in the way of Jesus?

As we do that we can then pray for our brothers and sisters. And pray that together we will experience anew the love and life of God.

8 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

It seems to come down to being honest. If we honestly evaluate ourselves, if we honestly share how others are affecting us (with their sin), we can begin to make our way. Of course, the "heart is deceitful" and "who can know it", so the beginning of honesty is, I guess, coming before God to be searched.

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L.,
I love your insight on honesty here. And how important! I've found sometimes in my honesty I'm in despair. And the one thing I think I know for sure is aboiut my own heart, which can be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, itself.

But that's where we need God's searching, as you remind us.

The Walk said...

Amazing post. I love your emphasis on community. It seems like all too often, people fall into the mind-set of lone cowboy Christianity. People point the finger at their brothers and sisters, or wonder why they're struggling so much themselves, not realizing that they're spiritually famished w/o a community.

I know you mentioned the song "My Brother's Keeper" in one of your posts once. I looked it up on youtube. It's a good one.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for your gracious, encouraging words, "The Walk".

Yes, I like that song, and we need to live in community if we're to live well in the Master, to be sure. It's something to keep praying about and working at.

Mike said...

Good post. We must examine ourselves. I don't think we take the subject of sin seriously enough

Ted M. Gossard said...

Mike,
Thanks. Yes, in reading on Psalm 51 today (from the NIV Application Commentary- Gerald H. Wilson) it was noted something like only through having our sin ever before us, only through that can we find God's forgiveness through confession and restoration and change inwardly along with righteous acts (sacrifices in the temple system) acceptable and pleasing to God.

I wonder why we don't take sin as seriously as Scripture seems to, and therefore as God does.

Lynet said...

You know, LL, that's really insightful. I find, myself, that honesty -- with myself and with others -- is one of the strongest things that keeps me behaving well. Then, too, there is the way that a habitual behaviour that is damaging to ourselves or others so often hides behind a lie we tell ourselves that we forget to examine. I find that, anyway. If I know what I'm doing, the desire to be good kicks in automatically and keeps me in line.

I also find that it's best to arrange things so that you need a minimum of willpower. You speak of 'forsaking' sin, and I imagine ceasing by an act of will, when a better way to alter a bad habit is to see how it fits into your life, figure out how to avoid it and/or what good things could take its place, and then move to a situation where large amounts of willpower just aren't required. For example, if you want to drink less alcohol, you could try to just stop, or you could maybe realise that you do it because it makes you more relaxed in social situations, in which case you would focus on how to be relaxed in social situations without it, and on different kinds of social situations that might be easier for you, and so forth. Exert the willpower to overcome that and the willpower to not drink could become barely needed.

Perhaps your notion of how to forsake sin already considers such methods, but a superficial reading of many Christian writings might overlook them and focus solely on willpower, relying on God to pick up the slack when that fails.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Lynet,
Thanks for your insightful thoughts here. I really do agree with all you say, and I'm sure we can overlook this important aspect of things.

We read in Romans that believers in Jesus are not to be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of their MINDS. This fits well with what you say.

Deceit captures us humans; sin blinds us to reality. And at the same time, sin changes us to be less human, less humane, and more bent on having our own way, come what may, doing our own thing, doing whatever we feel like doing, even if we have an inkling of the destruction it might bring.