Sin is gangrene. Is this real? Can we sink our teeth into what this means?
Where do we get a knowledge of sin that we can grasp down to our bones? Have scholars, academic theologians, the church fathers or the creeds accomplished this for us? Can man’s highest reasoning lead us to spiritual knowledge?
I say no.
Nonetheless, Christians have created traditions of knowledge based entirely on human philosophy for the past two-thousand years. And while the outcome of philosophising doctrine has always been separation, this approach to knowledge continues to seduce the church.
But it is unspiritual to divide.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:6)
Here is what Jesus says:
“I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” Matt. 11:25
and on another occasion:
“Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 16:17
Knowledge and revelation belong to God and come from God. We are just human. We are sheep. We know nothing unless God shows us.
So, going back to the top – How do we recognise sin in the first place? The Bible tells us that it is rot, decay, that we are literally dying because of sin in our bodies. Is this self-evident?
I can be told that it is sin that is leading my body to death, but how do any of us arrive at such a conclusion?
It has to be revealed to us.
And that’s it! That’s all that needs to happen – and it is everything that needs to happen.
I don’t need to understand fancy words like ontological or metaphysical. I just need to be a person who wants to know, and who asks God to show me (James 1:5).
True acquaintance with sin is utterly personal. It goes so far beyond an intellectual belief that sin is real, to having the depth of one’s own sin revealed to them.
That is something people have tried to do for other people, and it just doesn’t work that way.
You can tell me that I am depraved. Thanks for that. If I believe it is true, then what? I strive to get my moral behaviour in line and make that the proof of God’s salvation of me?
But that seems to be what we do. I’ve done it. When we try to see sin on our own, we favour the surface. This is where we get fired up about homosexuality and gloss right over spiritual pride (the sin that Jesus rebuked more than any other by far Luke 11:39, Matt. 23:1-4).
This is where our relationships fray. We tell another person what they are doing to hurt our relationship (their sin), and it does nothing to open their eyes. They are blind, we are blind.
Ever wonder about those blind men who cried out to Jesus (Matt. 20:30)? They are symbols of you and me. The religious people claimed to see and their sin remained…(John 9:41).
But if we recognise our helpless blindness and cry out to God to open our eyes, He will perform this miracle on our behalf, gladly.
It all starts there. Right there – with admitting we are blind, crying out for God to give us eyes to see spiritual things (Matt 13:15,16), and humbly receiving His merciful power.
Then all the promises of Scripture become real, in living colour WITHIN us. We are no longer knee deep in the battle to overcome this or that “sin” problem (like trying not to swear, or look at pornography, or react to people in anger). Instead, we literally have a new nature birthed in us. Two natures. The old nature IS 100% dead, riddled with sin. The new nature is alive, free, and radiating perfection.
But more to come on that. Join me next time as we further the conversation on life.