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A Difficult Discussion about Sin + the Character of God



I've been studying the minor prophets in the Old Testament, and when people ask me what it's about, I give an overview that basically sums up everything I've been reading. The Israelites are bad, God is mad, but God is good, so He forgives them, but they are bad again, so God has to punish them. It's a cycle over and over again, of God's goodness and righteousness yet Israel's stubborn and never ending sin. It honestly gets exhausting, and I'm not even in the story, because it really is the same plotline repeated for about half of the books in the Old Testament. I'm not even exaggerating (I wish I was).


But as I'm studying these books, I want to go deeper than the general overview. God has opened my eyes to some of the relentless sin in my own life, which I often cover up, excuse, or don't even notice.


In the Christian community, we like to talk about sin. But we like to talk about other people's sin. It's easy for us to acknowledge how other people aren't being the perfect Christians, and even judge them for it. However, we don't like to talk about our own sin - if we even recognize it at all. I've noticed this in myself, and it doesn't sit right with me.


I can read the Bible all day and wonder why the Israelites didn't just repent, why they didn't just stop sinning, and then I step back and look at myself. When was the last time I was distraught or even unsettled by the ways I've rebelled against God over and over again in a single day? When was the last time I had a deep heart to heart with God about the ways I've messed up, coming to Him out of genuine repentance? When was the last time I've reflected on recurring sin in my life and just wrestled with that for a minute?


Mmhm.


So I'm working on that. No sin is worse than any other sin, and so I want to recognize the ways I've failed God and missed the mark, even if the world would excuse that as normal or even justifiable. I want to hold myself accountable and acknowledge the gossip, the pride, the idols, and the less-than-loving ways I've spoken or thought about the people around me. I want to bring those to the light, in front of Jesus, instead of brushing it under the rug or choosing not to think about it at all.


You see, sin destroys our relationship with God. It builds a barrier between us and the divine, and so that's why Jesus had to come and give His life for us. But it is still our choice to follow after the Lord and take up our cross daily, part of which means repenting and surrendering our sin on a daily basis. When we don't do that, we allow our own sin to get in the way of fully experiencing the presence and blessings of God. And I don't know about you, but I really don't want to miss out on that.


What sin in your life have you chosen to ignore or simply not acknowledged at all? There's no judgement in this place, because God offers endless grace, but we do have to get a little bit uncomfortable and have this conversation about sin if we want to continue to grow and mature in our faith. We have to wrestle with this within ourselves, because if we don't, we are just continuing to give the devil more and more opportunities to distract us from our God. Let's bring it to the light in genuine repentance.


And whatever it is, there is no shame. God does not desire for us to feel guilty or shameful because of the ways we've messed up, but there is a healthy amount of conviction we should feel. When we realize that we are serving a perfect, holy God, and He has given us more blessings than we can count, yet we choose to wander away from Him, that does do some humbling in your heart. As it should. If we continued to sin with no worries, while still claiming to follow Jesus, we wouldn't really be following Jesus, because that requires real life change and repentance.

 

Whenever you read the Bible, any part of the Bible at all, you naturally begin to reflect on the character of God. Some people think the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are completely different (and they prefer the New Testament), but that's simply not the case. I've done a lot of thinking about this, and I've come to the conclusion for myself that our God is a perfect blend of forgiving and loving and holy and righteous.


If the God we serve is entirely forgiving and loving, with no ounce of righteousness or justness in Him (which is how many people view God in the New Testament), then that's not a God we would want to serve or need to serve. If all God did was forgive us without convicting us, then we wouldn't need Him, because all of our sin and human desires would be validated. If He wasn't righteous and holy, which in itself convicts us of our own human imperfections, then I wouldn't want to follow that kind of God, because what separates Him from us? Nothing!


On the other hand, if the God we serve is only angry and righteous and holy (which is how many people view God in the Old Testament), then we would be living in fear and guilt, every second of every day. There would be no Jesus, because there would only be punishment for our sins. He would loom above us, a scary guy in the clouds waiting to attack. There would be no relationship with Him at all, because we would be far too imperfect and unworthy when compared to a flawless, majestic God.


But, when we take a step back, and look at the complete picture (or the most complete picture our finite human brains can comprehend) of God, then we realize that we serve a perfectly loving and righteous God. His grace does cover all of our sins, because He chose to die a death we deserved. His love makes us a new creation and will never end, despite how undeserving we are. But He is also righteous and just. He will not allow us to continue to walk in our sin just as we had before, but He will refine us and challenge us as we grow in a relationship with Him. He will, one day, hold every person accountable for the sins they have committed, and we will fall on our faces because of His glory, but we are also safe in His arms if we choose to accept the free gift of salvation He offers us.


He is a complex, infinite God, and it so hard for us to wrap our minds around. But as I study Scripture, my picture and understanding of God becomes increasingly clearer. I see a God who is loving yet holy, who is righteous yet full of grace, who is full of power yet humble and gentle. I see a God who is my protector and healer, but also who is the righteous judge and all powerful Almighty. I see my God, the God I have chosen to spend my entire life worshipping and serving, and my faith deepens even more, because I am in utter awe of how incredible my God is.

 

I pray that this post challenged and convicted you about the reality of our sin and the importance of addressing it, but I also hope that it reminded you about who our God really is. I don't fully understand it, and I can't perfectly explain it, but it's something the Lord is teaching me every day, and it's changing who I am and my faith completely.


How do you view God? What has shaped that for you? Is it hard for you to address the sin in your life, or do you tend to overanalyze and cast guilt on yourself? I'd love to hear all of your answers and thoughts in the comments below! It really does mean the world to me when I get feedback from you guys. :)

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