Friday, January 15, 2010

Hidden Sin

There are sins we hide from others because we know they are wrong, and we want to avoid the embarrassment of being discovered in wrong doing. Public humiliation is something we want to avoid, so our ‘pet’ sin is kept hidden. At least in this situation the wrong doing is understood and evident. Were it to be revealed in the light-of-day we would stand convicted, embarrassed, and just as guilty. But there is a more insidious kind of sin that lays hidden deep in every soul, affecting our actions, our speech, and our destiny. This sin is hidden and of its own power seeks to remain this way. Finding it takes no small effort, getting rid of it – a lifetime.

Public sin, things like sexual misconduct, drunkenness, theft, unwarranted violence – things that can be easily seen and discerned by others are the sins most Christians spend their lives focused on. They develop false senses of righteousness based on comparing their own lives to those caught in public oriented sins. Instead of measuring your life and deeds against those of Christ, it is easier to compare against other imperfect humans. The entire process is mistaken. But more to the point, it involves a pre-occupation with sins that are easy to define. Sins that live in motives and thoughts, the internal kind of sin – those are far more dangerous, and far more destructive.

Consider for a minute the sin of murder. Most of us have not committed this sin, so it is easier to discuss. But the act of the murder is seldom a completely spur of the moment action. It takes some time to develop the idea of murder into the action of murder. Christ addressed this phenomenon when he stated that “hating your brother” was the same as “killing” him. The action begins as a thought. Once the mind has embraced the concept of murder, the hands seem to find it easier to follow. The entirety of military training programs are based on the concept of ‘breaking’ down the mind of the young soldier and rebuilding it to take orders to both kill and even to die if needs-be to accomplish the objective. Replace individual morality with ‘group’ think. This process is not unique to murder, it is the same for every public oriented sin.

But there is even yet a deeper sin that hides even below motive. We witness its symptoms, but remain clueless as to its cause. Turns out, it is the origin of all of evil. Everything you see that is evil around you came from one small seemingly innocuous little concept. Murder, Lust, Greed, Glutony, Theft, Lies, Sexual misconduct all have their roots in just one place. All of these greater crimes are ONLY possible if you adopt the underlying core sin and make it part of your character. None of these greater crimes would have ever been committed first, in fact, it just would have been unthinkable save for the core of all evil, the tiniest of faults – namely pride.

God can save the murderer, He can save the thief, the adulterer, but we make His job an order of magnitude harder to save us because we refuse to recognize the core of our evil within us. It is our pride. Our arrogance is reflected in how we think. It is self motivation that leads eventually to theft, lies, and ultimately murder. It is selfishness that comes from valuing ourselves above all else, even God. Pride. The entire world of evil is slave beginning and end to simple Pride. It caused the downfall of the highest created being in the Universe. After the Godhead, Lucifer was the considered the highest of all of God’s creations. And it was he who fell victim to this insidious cancer called Pride.

Pride turned the focus from others to self, in so doing it catapulted evil into existence. It was effectively the opposite of God. The opposite of God is not hate, it is pride. It is self-obsession. Christians do themselves enormous harm in ignoring humility to pursue victory over sin. Instead of accepting their inadequacy to really change their own character they stubbornly attempt to change who they are. And we fail. Over and over we fail. It is because it is not up to us to truly change ourselves, it is up to us to come to God in abject humility and accept His power to change us from who we are. He makes the changes, not us.

Paul said we are saved by Christ “and not of ourselves, lest any man should boast”. Even our faith comes from our God. It too is a gift. Christ stated plainly that “a Leopard cannot change his spots”. This was not intended to cause us to lose hope, but to put our hope in the only Savior who CAN change a Leopard’s spots. We are powerless to remove our sin, but God is not powerless, He is all power. Love alone will change us. Love given without merit by God to us. Our role is not to ‘work’ at perfection, it is to ‘accept’ perfection from God.

We do not seek to find sin, FAR from it. We seek the complete destruction of sin within ourselves, but we will never accomplish this goal of our own accord. We do not work in partnership with God either, somehow implying there is a work for us to do in this. We can claim NO credit for the changes that will come, for ONLY God can change us. It is God’s work from beginning to end. It is NOT ours. It is our Pride that causes us to think somehow we can. We are deceived into thinking there is a way for man to rid himself from his evil traits. Maybe some sort of twelve-step program for sinners will get us clean and sober from evil. But even the twelve- step plans recognize the need for a higher power. In the case of ridding ourselves from sin – it cannot be done by man – this predicates our so desperate NEED of a savior. We as a species NEED a savior, or we are doomed to die in our sin.

Again it is not the salvation that leads us to an eternal life in heaven I am referring to. It is the salvation that makes the concept of eternal life worth living because we spend every second in the total absence of sin, all sin, especially the core of sin – our pride. We need a savior to save us from ourselves. We need a savior to help us see our need. We need a savior, or we are doomed. How little we see our need.

Evil’s marketing plan is right on target with most devout Christians. It distracts them from seeking God in humility, rather having us seek God in guilt. We come to God after we have already transgressed with empty promises that ‘we’ will not do it again. But we do; over and over and over again. We’re doing it wrong. We need to see our NEED of a savior. We need to recognize what a savior is. Someone/something that can save us from us. The only way we will not be back on our knees asking God for forgiveness, is if HE does the work of removing the evil traits from our character.

Victory over sin is a tricky thing. So few achieve it because so few realize how it is done. When God does act on our behalf, often we lose the victory because we begin to think it was us that did it in the first place. We arrogantly site our ‘victories’ to our peers, and before you know it – our ‘victories’ disappear. The truth is we have NO victories, Christ has ALL of them. It is HE who is worthy, we are less than nothing. Our value is only measured in the love God gives to us. Of ourselves we are fragile clay, dirt, nothing. Our existence has value because God gives it value. Everything we need, everything we are to become, is found ONLY in God.

I worry so much; for me it is the torment of Jacob’s trouble, will I ever LET God kill the pride that lives within me? Or will I stubbornly cling to my deeply hidden sin, masking evil with the pretentions of righteousness without any of the substance? I fear that the evil within me has such a foothold that perhaps I have so warped my own thinking that I will somehow prevent God from healing me. Oh Lord, let it not be so. Save me Oh Lord, Save me a sinner. Kill the pride from within me, and kill it to the uttermost. I am overwhelmed at how desperately I need a savior. I am overwhelmed at how completely Jesus Christ fills this need. Only He is worthy …

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