Rather than offer a lot of excuses I thought I’d just write. WARNING: To my friends who aren’t believers, this is a little thick.
I find myself dealing with the subjects of sin (wrongdoing), guilt, remorse, repentance, judgement, conflict and resolution more than I ever have before, and I need to get my thoughts out for comment and discussion. I believe strongly that one of the base teachings of Jesus is that we not judge one another, it’s not our job. Now I’ve heard a lot of nonsense about what is and isn’t judgement, but mostly it seems to be a smokescreen by critical people to justify their attitude. When somebody does wrong, there is a place and a way to point it out, but it involves a healthy dose of “I largely do the same thing.” If you can’t admit that your sins are equal to the sin being confronted, shut your mouth! But that’s not how we operate. We want to believe that the evil ‘somebody’ does much worse things than we do. We want to think ourselves above such rotten and anti-social behavior. We completely misunderstand the concept of sin.
Look, the Bible says everybody screws up (Romans 3:23) and misses the blessings that their Creator intends for them. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) essentially ties all of our sins together and says that the sin and the root of the sin are the same, a concept that His half-brother James would repeat in his ministry (James 1:14-15). For example, Jesus says (Matthew 5:21-22) if you harbor bitter anger toward your brother, it’s the same as murdering him, see? The root and the sin are the same. I could go on about this but you can read up yourself, concentrate on Jesus’s teachings about sin and judgement before you start trying to understand everything Paul wrote in his letters, that way you’ll avoid confusion.
So, the root and the act of sin are the same, both are wrongdoing on a heart level. If I am to love my wife, I do things that she asks me to do, like dishes, which I hate. If I don’t do dishes when I said that I would I have lied (sin), not behaved lovingly to my wife (sin), and broken faith with her (sin). Furthermore, if I have broken faith with my wife, is that not a form of adultery? Like cheating with a mistress named Laziness? Sin. Man, that’s rough, right? This is where the Doctrine of Grace enters. Sin is a big deal because it colors every aspect of my life and eventually leads to death, however, God has provided through Christ, an exit strategy from this lifestyle (Romans 5:8).
Now here’s the disconnect for Christians: we live like Grace doesn’t exist. We don’t believe that God has provided a way out and we think we can live without sinning. I suppose, from a theoretical standpoint I can argue that it’s possible to not sin anymore, but not from a biblical standpoint, that’s an errant argument. So, since we reject Grace, we have to justify in our minds all of the wrong attitudes and selfishness (sin) that still rule our lives; and we do it with criticism of others, judgement. We’re so good at this that we even build theology around our attitude to make it look all Holy and stuff. Then we proceed, nose in the air, secure in our righteousness, to put the rest of the World in its place. No wonder non-believers hate us so much.
Incidentally, before I move on, the correct response for Christians to their own sin is to count themselves dead to it and to live by faith in the present, risen Christ. In other words, do your best and don’t dwell on sin. You don’t have to sin, but if you do, confess and reset immediately (I John 1:5-2:2), believing that Christ has taken the ultimate outcome of our stupidity and selfishness on his own body for our sake. To live by Grace is to accept it for yourself and apply it to others. Not as a license for wrongdoing, but as theme of forgiveness, self and otherwise, in your life. We have to defeat guilt because guilt, as we generally understand it, does not lead to restoration.
More on that later. Feel free to trash my thoughts in your responses.