May 10, 2023 | Jeff Patton
Mankind has a long and very consistent history with sin. You have a long and very consistent history with sin. I have a long and very consistent history with sin. Yet, we find all kinds of way to deny it, explain it away, and dismiss it.
This sordid history with how we deal with our sin comes naturally. Our most distant ancestors (Adam and Eve) injected into the DNA of every human ever born a sure-fire recipe for how to excuse the reality of our sin. That first bite into the fruit let loose a spiritual explosion that still affects us today. Yep, Adam passed the blame to his wife—“The woman you gave me.” Eve, bless her heart, blamed it on the serpent. The prohibited fruit made us a people who cover our sin and nakedness before God. Now, we don’t do it with fig leaves like Adam and Eve, but we do it—and we do it with great creativity and cleverness.
Do you remember when Moses came down the mountain to find Aaron leading the people in idol worship? Aaron explained away the sin of the Israelites like this: “They gave (the gold) to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf” (Exodus 32:24). Hahaha!!! No, I’m not laughing at their sin, but I am cracking up at Aaron’s narrative of how their sin came to fruition—"OUT CAME THIS CALF."
When our sin is ever before us and we are asked or confronted about it, we also blame anything we can come up with. Or, maybe even worse—we are totally unaware of our sinfulness when everyone around us KNOWS exactly what our sins are. We have the awful habits of denial, self-protection, and the intense desire to present ourselves to others in a very favorable light. So, whether we are walking and breathing Pinocchios (lying to ourself and God) or naive about our sin, the results are the same…a relational gap between God and others.
Our chit chats go something like this: "Ever had struggles in your marriage?" — "Nope." "How in the world could someone do ___________?" "Do you have any regrets in your parenting?" — "Well, one time I raised my voice to my 3-year-old." The vagueness is certainly telling about how we hide our sin when speaking with other full-blown sinners. At best, this shapes our relationships by giving us a life of isolation. At worst, it tills the ground for the seeds of sin to take root and grow into something that will literally destroy our lives. As Spurgeon says, “It does not spoil your happiness to confess your sin. The unhappiness is in not making the confession.” Oh how difficult it is to get this truth into our hearts and minds! But it does not have to be this way…
God, in His word, invites us to come to Him (and His people) and to tell the truth about us, a truth that He already knows. In addition, he tells us why we are reluctant to do so:
- "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11)
- "You refuse to come to me that you may have life." (John 5)
- People "loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil." (John 3)
- They went after worthlessness and became worthless (Jeremiah 2)
- "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us" (experience the forgiveness that is already ours in Christ (1 John 1)
But the wonder of all wonders is that onto this stage came God himself. The Son taking on human form to bear the responsibility for our sins and the consequences of our sin: wrath and death. He came as the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. In His great love, he is the blame-taking God. Again, the invitation is crystal clear: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55).
Why would we live in a pigsty wallowing in our sin when our father is waiting for us to run to him and come home? We are all called to go to the only one who can forgive us, and when we find him—rather than excusing us from obedience—he becomes our reason for obedience. Romans 2:4 reminds us of this truth: “knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”
Christ followers do not need to play dumb, or to blame our circumstances or invent narratives that make us look like spiritual elites (there is not such thing). We, as children of God, can look sin square in the face and own it, confess it…to God and others.
The results are:
1. We will sin less.
2. We will grow in our intimacy with God.
3. We will have real friends that love us and yet know us in both our good and bad.
Oh my, that’s life, real life! And we can have this kind of life by allowing our great and merciful God to help us rewrite our long history of behaving like our first ancestors. May the Lord give us courage to live in such a way!