June 24, 2016

The length and breadth and depth of sin . . .

During and after the wildfire in Fort McMurray, thousands of people sacrificed time, effort, and money to help the 80,000 plus evacuees and those who lost everything to the flames. Hearts were warmed by the outpouring of people helping people. Yet this does not negate what God says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Theologians say that because we are made in the image of God at times that shines through the muck of sin. I’m not sure about that. I don’t know what motivates others to do good or what goes on in their hearts when they do it, but I know that in me the principle of sin tries to rule even when I least expect it. We did something for those needy people and while in the process, I sensed pride and a ‘look what I did’ attitude that had to be rejected. Perhaps this is why Isaiah said, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment . . . .” (Isaiah 64:6)

Each of us has occasions when sin works its way through our pretensions and best efforts. When Jesus was arrested He queried those who came to Him with swords and clubs . . .

“When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:53)

Their sinful hatred of the Son of God rose to the surface and erupted in an unlawful arrest, an illegal trial, and eventually the crucifixion of the only truly innocent person who ever existed.

Chambers says we need to accept as true the fact of sin and its role in the disasters of life. Yes, we often see noble deeds done, but “there is something in human nature which will laugh in the face of every ideal you have.”

Sin is like that, and if I refuse to agree there is vice, self-seeking, spiteful and pure evil in human beings, then when it strikes me (and my hour has come) I will compromise with it. I might even say there is no use fighting it. But if I make “allowance for this hour and the power of darkness” then I will recognize sin in myself and realize the danger. I can never say that this little mistake or that little foible has no power to ruin me and deeply injure if not ruin others.

This does not mean being cynical or suspicious of everyone. Jesus never was — because He knew what He could do about my sin and the sin of others. He paid the penalty that we might be forgiven, justified, born anew.

This is not the same as being innocent. While He gives me the power to fight and overcome sin, sin is like a polluted spring, continually bubbling up, particularly when I least expect it. I will be free from its nagging and nattering only when I see Jesus face to face and am transformed into His image. Until that happens, in Him I am declared righteous and in Him I can say yes to God and no to sin. But the awful power of sin still lurks, ready to deceive me by the lies of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and my own propensity to believe those lies.

What else can be done except rely on the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ of whom 2 Corinthians 1:10 says, “He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”

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