I have often heard it said of sin that sin creates a wall of separation between us and God. And while this may be a truth conceptually, it evokes what can very easily become an extremely dangerous response in our faith. See, when we conceptualize sin as creating a wall between us and God, our first reaction is to go and pound on the wall, to try everything in our power to knock it down. We want to take down the wall to restore ourselves in God’s eyes. But, the danger with this is this; in doing this, we focus on the sin (the wall) rather than Jesus. It places us in the position of focusing all of our energies on sin itself, rather than on the great Physician who can actually cure us of the affliction, who can empower us to defeat sin.
See, the first danger that this creates is that it causes us to distill our faith to a list of dos and don’ts. It characterizes our faith in a manner that we begin to believe that we can obtain righteousness through adherence to this list of rules. Consider the Jews during Jesus’ earthly ministry. We become the equivalent of that. They were so lost in their studies of Scripture, in their knowledge of the Law and the rules, that when the Messiah Himself stood next to them, they argued with Him about what the Scriptures said. They actually argued the meaning of the words of God with God the Word, because they were so blinded by their “knowledge.” We become the equivalent to that when we begin to tear down this wall in that we are so busied with defeating the powers of sin in our lives, we manage to neglect the source of true righteousness.
But, there’s another very great danger that this can lead us into; albeit slightly more subtle. See, Satan loves nothing more than to see a Christian so caught up in self-loathing and self-inflicted guilt that they become blinded to the forgiveness that Jesus has given us. Because the other great danger that this leads us to is focusing on ourselves, relying on ourselves, and ultimately, worshiping our own willpower. This is blatantly characterized by the Christian who, when he slips and commits a sin, beats himself up about it, writhing in guilt and anguish, allowing despondency to overtake him because of his own lack of ability to defeat this sin. See, Paul addressed this in his letter to the Corinthians. He penned the words, “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10). When we sin, which we will inevitably do, we confess and repent of our sins, and then have faith that we are forgiven. Those who cause themselves to suffer this emotional and mental turmoil, sometimes even physical, are those who are not trusting in the power of the Lord to bring about healing, but rather, are trusting in their own ability to overcome these impulses that we all carry within us. No one wills to sin; the alcoholic doesn’t will to be an alcoholic, the short tempered man doesn’t will to have a short temper, no one wills to sin; but when we rely on our will alone, then we ultimately will sin. I’ve often said, and will constantly say, that if willpower alone were enough, the gyms would be just as busy on April 1st as they are on January 3rd.
When we focus on the sin, we empower it. We begin to focus on it rather than the Lord, and in doing so, we begin to trust in our own ability to overcome this sin, looking at sin as a list of dos and don’ts, rather than as a condition that exists within us that requires the healing hand of the Lord to overcome. We so often think of sins as individual actions, which sometimes it is; rather than as a condition, an illness, which it more often is. In Romans, Paul says “But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.” See, it’s not one action which he refers to as sin, but rather this condition which in turn produced “all manner of evil desire.” It’s much more of a condition than a simple action, though the actions are the fruits of that condition.
My brothers and sisters, when we find ourselves committing a sinful deed, we must not focus on the sin itself, neither the actions which were produced by it. Rather, we must fully focus on the Healer, the great Comforter, the Physician who can heal us of this illness. Only through our full faith in Jesus will we ever be able to defeat the power that we have ultimately allowed sin to have in our life. Through study, we can learn what sin is and what it’s fruits are; and through prayer and meditation, through repentance and confession, we can focus our attention on the One who has the power to heal us of that affliction. May we always remember that, and focus our attention of “things that are above, not the things of the earth.”
May the peace of the Lord be with you, my beloved brethern.