Updated: Nov 5, 2019
A couple months ago I saw a post on Facebook and read the comments that entailed. The post was about something normal, but then the comments led to talking about a particular sin. The sin itself didn't really surprise me in this day and age. But the comments really floored me - so much so that I have been thinking about it constantly every day since. I can't wrap my brain around what they said.
I don't want to get into the specifics of the sin because what I'm thinking about their comments applies to all sin. So just insert some blank.
When the person mentioned their sin, people started commenting they would pray for this person and their situation. That isn't unusual, but what was is that they weren't praying for the person to turn from the sin, but to be able to continue in it!
That shocked me (and I mean SHOCKED)! I can't imagine praying to God about that and I just couldn't believe they would!
To me it would be the same as having an affair and praying to God that my spouse wouldn't find out and that I could continue in it. Or embezzling money from my company and praying to God I won't get caught and I can continue to steal. The nonchalant way in which they talked about this sin makes me think they don't even THINK it is sin! Because if they thought it was sin, they wouldn't pray to an almighty holy God to be able to continue in it. You all, WHEN did this happen? Honestly, I cannot for the life of me understand this.
In just the past couple generations we have redefined sin.
See I always thought in the back of their minds that they knew it was sin. They knew it and didn't care or were just trying to justify their views. Like Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. Satan, the great liar and deceiver, comes to Eve and says, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" In other words, 'Did God really say that?' And Eve knows God did say that. She knows what to do (and not to do) to obey God. But she chooses to do what she wants - not what God commanded. She (and Adam) chose disobedience. They chose sin. And The Fall happened.
So I thought it was the same case for many of today's prevalent beliefs in our society. I thought they really do know that is sin, but they want to do what they want and they are choosing to rebel against God. But apparently not! These people didn't appear to recognize what this person was doing was sin and therefore they aren't convicted to change their thinking and they don't ask God to forgive them. Instead they are asking God to get on board with their sin! And folks, that absolutely terrifies me.
You all do know there are consequences to sin, right? When I sin there are consequences for me, but also for my family, my friends, my neighborhood, my city, my state, my nation, my world. I can repent of my sin and ask God for forgiveness and He because of His great love and mercy will restore me. But His forgiveness does not erase the consequences of the sin I committed. I have to live with those.
We are all having to deal with not only the consequences of our own sin, but also the consequences of the sin of others.
If the vast majority of people don't know what they are doing is sin and continue in it willy nilly, my life is affected. Your life is affected. The world is affected.
So I sit here and wonder how do they not know it is sin?
Surely some part of their thoughts and heart and soul is telling them it is sin and they are ignoring that voice. Or are they truly ignorant?
How do they not know God?
What is God's reaction to all of this? Will He have mercy on them because of their ignorance? Or judge them because they really did know it was sin or because there is no excuse for their ignorance?
Does this in any way affect their salvation? (Personally I don't think so if they were really saved, but I'm still pondering that one.)
How does this affect their lives here on earth? (Personally I believe immensely.)
So I asked two ministers what they thought about this.
First, let's try to nail down what sin is.
sin. The biblical writers portray sin with a great variety of terms because they have a powerful sense of the purity and holiness of the living God. Thus sin may be viewed, for example, as a transgression or violation of the divine law (Matthew 15:3; 1 John 3:4), but also as disobedience (Romans 5:19; Hebrews 2:2), rebellion (Psalm 78:17; Isaiah 58:1), wrongdoing (Leviticus 5:19; 1 John 5:17), and especially as a personal offense against the Lord himself (Genesis 13:13; Exodus 32:33; Psalm 51:4; Jeremiah 3:25; Romans 8:7-8). Sin is both a pervasive condition of the heart (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9) and the practical outworking of that condition in thoughts, words, and deeds that offend God. All human beings are sinners (Romans 3:10-12,23) except for Jesus Christ, who made forgiveness and salvation possible (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26-27).
Source: The Essential Bible Dictionary by Moises Silva, copyright 2011, published by Zondervan, page 211 (affiliate link)
Sin is offending God. Grieving Him.
God loves us profoundly and wants what is good for us. And He knows what that good is. It must break His heart to see the self-centered, hateful, destructive things we do to ourselves and others. The idea of grieving the LORD breaks my heart.
The first minister talked to me a little about the specific sin - agreeing it was sin and talking about modern culture. The second minister had a lot more to say about the Facebook conversation. He put it so much better than I ever could, so I am sharing some of what he wrote to me:
I have seen the same phenomenon recently. Not only do people not see it as sin, but they expect to continue in it in the expectation that God would bless it!! As if God changes!! (1 Samuel 15:29) What has happened is that people are trying (and now in society it is very conscious, not simply some unintentional drift) to remake God in their own image. "My God wouldn't..." "I don't think God would be like..."
Instead of looking at what God is actually like through the Bible and conforming themselves to that, they have started with themselves and with their comfy culture and then looked at God and said, "How can we change Him to be more like us?" It becomes all the easier for them when they ignore the Old Testament and how God said He felt/feels about sin. People have no regard for the reality that God is so holy that an animal had to die, blood had to be spilled, in order for people to even enter into His presence, because He is so holy. Priests had to tread carefully and not fail to do anything required under the Law in their priestly duties, or they would be struck down. All to demonstrate that God is holy and we have to adjust to be near Him, not Him adjust to be like us. (Now of course the beauty in the Incarnation is that God did humble Himself to become one of us and then make atonement for us. But this doesn't change the reality of His holiness. It just shows the lengths to which He will go to show love to and redeem His precious creatures.)
The root issue of course is right back to Genesis 3, that people do not believe the Word of God, which is pretty clear, and they want to substitute their own word (or Satan's tempting word) in the place of God's.
... People are calling "good and just and right" not God's will, but their own sinful desires. This is calling the light darkness and the darkness light.
... People are too often being offered a stripped-down, pansy, insufficient and incomplete Jesus, and it is no wonder that people are flooding into greater and greater wickedness.
So what is my point of all of this? It is to make you think.
Do you even recognize the sin in your life as sin?
Do you want a Savior, but not a Lord?
Do you want God to treat you with lovingkindness, but are you going to ignore His holiness at all costs?
Do you want God to do something about the great evil in this world, but want Him to overlook your evil? Do you or don't you want a just God?
Where are you getting your beliefs from? From what your friends, neighbors, families and society are saying?
Do you think you are a good person and God is going to overlook your sin because you are better than Joe Schmo down the street?
Have you made your sin into a respectable sin? Hey everyone is doing it.
You running your life and doing what you want, how's that going for you? Broken relationships? Intense pain and heartache? Battered? Weary? In ruins?
Are you making God into your image or are you trying to find out what God is like and what He asks of us?
Are you grieving and offending God?
Our sin, while affecting others, is against God.
Pray Psalm 139:23-24 with a sincere heart.
Once God reveals your sin to you, confess and ask Him to forgive that sin and to change you.
David's Prayer Psalm 51.
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. (verses 1-4)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (verse 10)
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. (verse 12)
Father, show us our sin so that we may turn from it and do Your will. Amen.
UPDATE: See Response to 'Grieving God' dated January 14, 2017.