Have I, the writer ever been completely free of sin?
No. I don’t want anyone to think I deem myself as some sort of saint or anything like it. I grew up in this broken world too. I’m just a human. I leave the judgement to the wisest, being God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
The stigma of the word “sin”
Think of a popular song that you love, but hardly ever listen to due to excessive exposure, say like, Stairway to Heaven. The song is beautifully worded. It carries a strong and needed message about how drugs can damage a life. It’s full of creative, powerful musical quality. I think it’s one of the greatest songs ever written and yet, I never elect to listen to it. If it comes on the radio, I’m likely to turn it off. The reason is simple, it’s been overplayed. I’ve heard it so much throughout my life that I now have a strange relationship with it. I’ll listen when it’s undeniably presented, but before I do, I have to get past the wall of what is almost a stigma that comes along with it.
For me, the word “sin” is like that. As a relatively new Christian, I find myself a bit gun-shy when the word starts lingering in my thoughts. Why? Because the word gets thrown around so much that it gets, possibly, overused. And it’s often associated with people who judge others unfairly, “You SINNER!” being one example. I don’t know about you, but when someone starts throwing terms like that around, I tend to avoid those words, or that person.
Any word can get stale while being overused, that includes the word “sin”. And there’s another reason the word is often ignored. We grow up sinners and we usually don’t want to hear or know that a comfortable habit is not good for anyone, including our own selves. It signifies the need for change, something we often don’t open our arms to, widely or otherwise.
My own aversion to the the words “sin” and “sinner, it also comes from the fact that I know how this world works. I know it’s broken enough that none of us have all the information we need to live a perfectly balanced life. Because of the immense amounts of misinformation we get from media, greed, the theory of duality, etc, in one way or another we’re all broken.
Therefore I don’t completely accept the label of “sinner” unless it’s coming from someone who both admits to it themselves and admits it to themselves. And therefore, even though it’s not fair, for me the word is sometimes buried under heaps of rebellion toward many of its users. In other words, I get why the word is sometimes unacceptable, even when used in the right context at the right time.
So now you have a word that, by itself is not offensive or wrong. It should be a natural component to human language, but in the end, for now, it’s often more like finger nails on chalkboard. It’s most common results seem to be rolling eyes and push-back statements like “mmm hmmm”. Thing is, while the word may not be as socially acceptable these days, it holds truth and testament to how we often behave, as, well... sinners.
Where did the word “sin” come from?
Originally, probably someone’s mouth. That’s fairly obvious, so let me ask this in a different way... What does “sin” mean?
Okay, I’m not even going to look up the definition. It’s likely that just about everyone would agree, the basic meaning rests in the idea of doing something wrong, morally, and most important, spiritually. But what about its dynamic, its context? I feel like the word “sin” is more benign, more neutral and less judgmental than its reputation. I believe it simply refers to an act, a behavior that works against the system God made.
What exactly is sin?
It’s not about God standing above you, arms folded, head shaking back and forth, working for the destruction of those who do wrong. That’s an unwise response for any parent or person to have. The belief that people are disposable is a human concept.
I don’t think God labels a behavior as sin just because it gets on his nerves. After all, he’s a patient and understanding father. His son even told us to be quick to listen and slow to anger. God also doesn’t long for the destruction of those who sin. He will put discipline in your life over it, but he won't shut you out.
I believe something different, that sin is abrasive for very technical reasons, not because it irritates the big guy. Does any of the above mean it’s fine to sin? No, that’s not what I’m saying at all.
Why sin is so acceptable in our culture
Quite simply, we either grow up with it or grow into it. That’s all it takes. People have an amazing ability to adjust to, and accept, our surroundings. So combine the comfort of bad habits with the acceptability of them, now you’ve got a clear path to what we often want, but shouldn’t have. And since the world runs mostly backward, it’s not hard to find peer reenforcement, seemingly positive feedback in return for negative action.
The effects of sin
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 6:23 King James Version (KJV)
What that means is: though we can have an eternal future through Jesus, we can shorten and misery-fy (it's a word now) our human lives through sin.
Moses, having trekked up Mt. Sinai, ultimately came down with two tablets. On them, inscriptions of the ten worst sins a person could commit (it's important to note that these instructions were also carried by Christ into the new Testament). Let’s look at a few of them (from the NIV Bible)...
“You shall not commit murder”. One of my theories; No human is responsible for another life. What I mean is, no person has the right to decide whether another life is to cease or continue. God makes the plans because, unlike humans who have a limited view, God has the bird’s-eye view of the universe. He knows what each life is for, so he is the best at deciding who lives and for how long. Deciding for him throws a wrench in the gearbox.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor”. One of my theories; God has his plans for every one of us. People usually shut doors on those who they believe do wrong. That breaks connections between God’s children, which breaks his system of forgiveness, inclusiveness and communication. His work is then held behind a wall that sits between those neighbors.
“You shall not covet your neighbors wife”. One of my theories; Marriage is a sacred thing for good reason. It’s God’s plan to create a team, to place two people together who can accomplish great things, more so than what we can do alone. When we don’t respect that, we work against God’s plan, not to mention driving a rift deep between yourself and those next door. Working against a good plan causes it to become inefficient, ending in either more resources used, the end of a that plan, or both.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s donkey.” Why not? Because you need to appreciate your own donkey. I joke on this one commandment, but donkeys were common back then.
“You shall not steal.” One of my theories; Because, even though humans have forged a lot of stuff, all the material to build it has come from what God made. Again, he has the highest, furthest view of what belongs where and why. As people, we don’t have the right to demand what we think we deserve, which leads into the next point... because we’re children, our desires often stretch further than our ability to mange our material gifts. In other words, often times, we don’t appreciate what we have while we’re reaching out for the next gain. Therefore, God often holds back what we could have until we’re ready to have it.
Is sin forgivable?
The short answer is “yes”. Off the top of my head, I can think of two concepts that confirm this, freewill and the fact that all of us humans are basically children. Because those two things are, or at least should always be accepted as a part of life, God is forgiving of sins. Don’t believe me? Ask his son, Jesus, about why he had to give up his human body.
As I said, God will put discipline in our lives when we sin, for the purpose of helping us stay more connected to him. He will only remove that discipline when a few conditions are met:
1. Those who commit the sin are genuinely regretful and understanding of why the behavior was wrong.
2. We have to want to be forgiven and willing to self-improve so the wrongful act is discontinued in fair time.
3. We have to forgive others for what they’ve done wrong to us, hence sayings like, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. This has to do with the fair practice of being a conduit, someone who can give out what they take in.
Why it’s good to drop sin
God does throw consequences our way when we sin. He sets up the bumpers that bounce us back into place when we stray too far from what’s right. Sometimes they’re downright painful. There is also the judgement from other people and the fear of being cast out of any circles. For me, none of these are motives that push my desire to become better today than I was yesterday.
Cleaning out the sin in our lives is about this; For every single bad habit we drop, we gain another step toward stronger, positive, spiritual connection. I want to say “it’s like a war out there”, but it’s not like a war, it is a war. The enemy throws into it every millisecond of time, every atom of energy and every ounce of influence it can use. That may be creative writing, but it’s by far not an exaggeration.
I don’t join God out of fear or command. I choose his system because I’ve been immersed in life in every which way, good, bad and throughout the middle of the spectrum. After decades of experience, I’ve come to realize that God has it right. He’s intelligent to an extreme, loving, balanced, fair, generous, forgiving and wise. Only good things come from a system like that. People don’t have to be used up, discarded, shredded or hardened to make it work.
Of course it’s difficult to restructure bad habits and nurture good behavior. Sin can bring a lot of comfort, even pleasure. It can even bring a pat on the back or a paycheck. But the war I typed about a minute ago, it’s nasty, even deadly. We often don’t see how bad it really is until we stop accepting the sins that help to fuel it.
There’s a shroud around that war, making its properties hard to detect. If you can put just a scratch in the rose colored wrap and peek down into the flames, the reality of our hidden struggle is downright mind blowing. Making it up the climb and just dropping one thing, alcohol, drugs, gossip, excessive TV, slander, porn, etc... the package that comes in return for doing it; it includes more freedom, truth, clarity, positive energy and an endless slew of other benefits. It includes the ability to elevate yourself away from the war and toward actual power.
The knowledge that you made the choice to stop before your consequences forced you, that’s hugely liberating. The feeling of being more connected to God, we’ll that’s not only the goal, it’s a gift that can move a person beyond words, beyond human made reward and beyond the chains that we wear without knowledge or consent.
Links mentioned above
Being a Conduit (article) - It's about being open to the flow of God's power, information and resources.
Porn is Okay, Right? (article) - I told you I've not been free of sin. Here's proof, and also a window to the reality of what porn really is.
Sin, a Realistic View (Part 2/3) (article) - Each bad habit I break lends toward a brighter and clearer connection to God. That’s one of the ways I break poor behavior. I remind myself about the rewards of doing it.
Sin, a Realistic View (Resources, Supporters only, Part 3/3) (article) - The following are resources that can help the reader reenforce the concepts covered in the last two articles. I’ve personally, fully read all of these articles and watched all videos. I can get behind what each of them say.
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