What ever happened to the gravity of sin?!? What ever happened to our desire for complete holiness?!? Do we even realize how serious our sin is anymore?!? I have to wonder sometimes…
In reading Ezra and Nehemiah I constantly see the same reaction: When they found out about their sin or even the sin of Israel they would tear their robes, sit in ashes, and beg (not ask, beg) God for forgiveness.
“But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out on my hands to the LORD my God; and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt grown even to the heavens.”
— Ezra 7:5-6
Where is that type of conviction in our culture?!? When was the last time I have mourned over the sins of my country? We seem numb to real passion and real emotion in our culture. We revel in emotion and passion when we embrace the things of this world, but suddenly do away with it when we, sullied and tarnished with our sin, approach the most holy God of the universe.
I have been convicted of how lightly I take sin, even the smallest bit of it. I seem to justify that I have not partaken in the “deadly sins” and do not bring my pride and selfishness before God each day. If Paul calls himself the “chief of sinners”, what am I? I am far more wretched than he was. I think we all are. “Man, who drinks iniquity like water!” (Job 15:16) I think that is an apt description of us. Look in Hebrews chapter 11, the “Hall of Faith”, where we look to all the great men who we all want to be like, and in their midst you find: David, and adulterer and murderer; Moses, another murderer and one who could not enter the promised land because of his sin, Rahab, a harlot whose only acomplishment was to lie and by God’s grace help save some lives, not to mention Samson, or Gideon (who asked for multiple signs). The point is that we are all so sinful. But why do we not act like David when we realize it and mourn and weep over our actions?
Lately I have been reading a lot on suffering and sorrow, the problem of pain, and the problem of evil. For some time suffering has puzzled me and I have struggled alot with this idea, and with God over it. But the more I think about it, the more the problem of suffering is a small issue in comparison with the problem of wickedness. I must agree wholeheartedly with Alvin Plantinga when he says, “What is genuinely appalling is not suffering as much as human wickedness.” What is astonishing in life is not how much suffering there is, but how much wickedness there is.
In seeing suffering, we are tempted to say that we are the victim of evil, and thus our slate is clean. But when we see our wicked actions, we are no longer victims of evil in the world, we are the source of evil in the world. So what is wrong with the world? One of best answers to this this question I have ever read was given by G.K. Chesterton, who, in answer to an editor asking the very same question wrote this:
In response to your article, ‘What’s wrong with the world?’
What’s wrong with the world? I am. Plain and simple. Do I realize what that means ? That is why Jesus Christ had to die. That is what held Him to the cross. Not just Adam’s sin — my sin. “It was my sin that held Him there.” I, Jason Custer, am the reason Jesus bore such suffering, such grief, such pain and torment. I am the reason why He was forsaken by God for a breif moment. I am the reason He was crucified. As Dr. E. Stanely Jones so eloquently put it: “Now I know what it means to see love crucified by sin.” My sin.
The gravity of sin is not that it is against others and hurts them — although it most certainly does. The gravity of sin is not that it is against myself and hurts me — although it most certainly does that as well. The gravity of sin is that is against God — the God who infinitely loves and desires a relationship with me, the God who became flesh and dwelt among us. Isaiah 43:24 shows what we do with our sin. “Rather you have burdened Me with your sins,/ You have wearied Me with your iniquities.” Our sin is first and foremost against the God that died that we might live — and that is a most grievous thing to know. How, then, can we take it lightly?
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”
“A thousand times my flesh embrace,
A thousand more if but for grace.”
– Shane & Shane, “Waging War”
“If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.”
“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!”
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
(Romans 7:24, Psalm 130:3-4, Psalm 32:1, & Romans 7:25)
Thanks be to God! Thanks be to God…