Wednesday, August 17, 2016
WHATEVER BECAME OF SIN?
That is the title of a book written over 40 years ago by Dr. Karl Menninger. At that time, as he looked at the world around him with all the psychoses and errant human behavior, he also observed that the concept of sin had been disappearing in American culture.
I wonder what he would think today!
Sins that were once considered serious issues and behaviors shameful or even deserving of punishment have even become institutionalized in our culture. For example; when was the last time you heard someone accused of committing adultery? No, people today merely have “affairs” or live in “an open marriage.” Unmarried couples no longer “live in sin” or “have illicit relationships,” they just move in together and nobody bats an eye.
Drugs, drunkenness and gambling have been glamorized, turned into heroics and in some cases is even endorsed or sponsored by government…usually so that tax revenue can be increased (like that would surprise anyone). And yet, though the names are changed, and people believe the deeds to be harmless, there is still no escaping the consequences of sin, regardless of what you call it. People walk through life burdened with guilt, shame and feelings of inadequacy longing for release. Marriages are devastated and shattered, lives, minds and bodies are destroyed, and society suffers as a result.
All these things happen and people are trapped, unable to discern a way out.
Because nothing is considered to be “sin,” there is no awareness of the spiritual impact, and no seeking of the one remedy that brings true release from the power of sin. There is no repentance because there is no sin…just poor choices, and even if there is a desire to repent, there is often no awareness that there is a loving God who welcomes repenting sinners, has already made provision to set them free from their burden, and can bring the restoration and healing so desperately needed. Instead, people talk themselves out of feeling remorse, they explain away the “mistakes” they have made, and live as a “law unto themselves.”
I would even suggest that this very attitude that each person is a law unto themselves is core to the confusion. For many, right and wrong (if the concepts are considered at all) are not based on standards established by God in his word, but instead are the choice of each individual, with the underpinning belief that each person must find his/her own truth, as there is no sense of ultimate truth. Political expediency and correctness, personal preference and pragmatism have, for many, replaced the teaching of scripture and commandments of God. And it is amazing what things are considered reprehensible in our culture while deeds scripture clearly describes as sin are tolerated or praised. We have come to believe that God is no longer the judge, rather each individual has attempted to place him or herself in the judge’s seat with, with God on trial and righteousness our own creation (as C.S. Lewis pointed out many years ago in his essay titled, “God in the Dock.”)
Don’t allow yourself to be one of those who are so deceived. God still sits on the throne. God is still the one who will judge, and his appearing will cause humanity to tremble, staggered when they realize how puny and powerless they are in the presence of God. God’s commands have not been cancelled. The definition of righteousness remains his prerogative, no matter what revisions sociological, ethical and grammatical writers might decide. Those who deal with people wrestling with feelings of guilt sometimes need not deal so much with the feelings, as with the fact that the person actually IS guilty…guilty of sin.
There is a REASON our consciences bring a sense of guilt to us…and to talk it away undermines the only “cure.”
We in the church need to never forget that the truths we proclaim are eternal and certain, no matter what society might say. But we need to proclaim them as Jesus did, with love, grace and hope.
There are two scripture passages that come to mind:
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
--Galatians 6:7-8 NASB
21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
--Romans 6:21-23 NASB
Sometimes I think we just need to be reminded, and sometimes I think we need to warn those who care nothing for God. Before it is too late.