Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is it Sin or Sins?

It seems that there are at least four (4) reasons why a weak view of sin develops both in our personal lives and within the body as a whole. The first reason seems to be an improper conclusion that grace nullifies the significance of sin in our lives. It is crucial then that we don’t allow our concept or understanding of grace to nullify the significance of sin that remains in our lives. A second reason that leads to a weak view of sin is … …that we fail to grasp that sin is the issue rather than sins Matt 15:19-20a – “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” (ESV) Our sins are the expression of a sinful heart or nature. Individual acts of sin spring from a principle or nature within us that is sinful. Wayne Grudem wrote "… sin is a failure to conform to God’s moral law not only in action and attitude, but also in our moral nature. Our very nature, the internal character that is the essence of who we are as persons, can also be sinful … we were also sinners by nature." Origen, who is considered to be an early church father, wrote, “It is not eating with unwashed hands, but if one may use so bold an expression, it is eating with an unwashed heart that defiles a man.” Chrysostom wrote, “Even in the church we see such a custom prevailing amongst the generality, and men giving diligence to come in clean garments, and to have their ands washed; but how to present a clean soul to God, they make no account.” The Apostle Paul knew this struggle all to well! In Romans 7:15 he made this remarkable statement, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (ESV) Romans 7 should be studied with great care for some time. We know that the theme of this chapter is that the law can not bring nor can it produce victory over sin in our lives. However, the good news is that those who are in Christ have been freed from both the law and from death. There are both good men and women on either side of the question of whether Paul is speaking of himself prior to or after his salvation experience. Irregardless of the side that you are on, it is clear that there is a principle of sin that battles against us from within the believer. In verse seventeen (17) Paul states, “So it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” Paul is not excusing himself from any personal culpability; he is merely recognizing the power of the sin principle that dwells within each of us. So, how do we battle this sin principle that dwells within us? The answer is found in verses twenty four (24) and twenty five (25); “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (ESV) The living presence of Jesus Christ in our lives is the help that we need to combat the reality of a sin principle that yet remains within our heart or our nature.
Why does a weak view of sin have a tendency to develop? First, it is because we have a tendency to permit grace to nullify the significance of sin in our lives; and secondly because we fail to grasp that sin is the real issue not just individual sins.

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