Thursday, September 18, 2008

Charles Dickens on Sin

(First Published on 1/30/08)

"If great criminals told the truth-which, being great criminals, they do not-they would rarely tell of their struggles against the crime. Their struggles are toward it. They buffet with opposing waves, to gain the bloody shore, not to recede from it." From "Our Mutual Friend" by Charles Dickens.

Is this your experience with sin? When we commit sin sometimes we claim that we have stumbled into the sin(s) unwittingly. Yet much of the time this statement is a lie. Often times we are drawn to sin, but do not commit the act, not because the act is sinful, but because there is an obstacle to our committing it and getting away with it. These obstacles can be either external (such as witnesses) or internal. One of my seminary professors, Dr. John Oswald, once compared David's reaction to seeing Bathsheba bathing on her roof to what Saul's reaction might have been. Knowing what we know about Saul, Saul probably would have left the scene immediately. Not because he was concerned with walking in holiness, but for fear that SOMEONE WOULD SEE HIM looking at her. We delude ourselves by assuring ourselves that these obstacles are an insurmountable barrier against commiting such sin, all the while we commit the acts again and again in our hearts and minds. The longer we cherish such thoughts, the more we begin to devise strategies to satisfy ourselves without any consequences. The more we want to sin, the more we begin to quench all internal obstacles. At some point we cross a line and desire becomes compulsion and the act is finally committed. We have deliberately removed all the obstacles to do what we want. Then we tell others that we were not truly ourselves when we committed sin. "I would never think about doing such a thing!" Sin is therefore added to with a lie. All the while we have sat in church wearing a mask. When David's sin was exposed, he repented and dropped his mask. He wrote Psalm 51, and commanded that it be sung in God's Sanctuary before all the people of God. He wanted the world to know who he was without God. We should be as willing to let the world AND THE CHURCH know who we are without Christ in our hearts. As a past disciple of Jesus once said, the Gospel is good news for bad people. May the thoughts of our hearts come under the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit so the works of our hands be pure and holy in his sight.

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