C.S. Lewis, a widely cited Christian writer, once said,
“It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.”
He observes that all sin moves us further and further from God. Sometimes we take a Calvinistic or fatalistic approach to sin, leading us to tolerate sin we feel we are fated to do. We see it as an unavoidable product of human nature. Rather than seeing sin as unavoidable, we should see it as rebellion, a violation of God’s word, inexcusable by our circumstances.
Sin is purposeful rebellion. Genesis chapters 2-3 illustrate the first recorded sin when Adam and Eve turn from God’s expectations and partake of the Tree of Knowledge. When Eve repeats God’s warning in chapter 3:2-3, it is clear she knows exactly what God expects, yet she goes on and makes a rebellious choice. In Genesis 9, God tells Noah and his descendants to multiply and disperse, but those descendants prefer the opposite in Genesis 11:4. They do not want to scatter. King Saul, in I Samuel 15:9, directly violates God’s commands of verses 1-3 . Each of these examples know precisely what God expects in their lives, but they consciously and purposefully do the opposite. They rebel.
Also, no matter the intentions, sin violates God’s word. Leviticus 10 records the sinful offering of Nadab and Abihu. In II Samuel 6:6-7, Uzzah perishes for the sin of laying his hand on the Ark of the Covenant, despite is good intentions to steady it on its cart. Saul, in Acts 8:3 and 9:1 as well as his account of himself in Acts 26:9, persecutes Christians with pure motivations. Sin is sin regardless of intentions, for it violates God’s law.
Finally, circumstances do not excuse our sins. I Corinthians 15:33 warn us about those with whom we associate, bout the circumstances in which we place ourselves. Job does not allow himself to sin because of his wife’s prodding or his friends’ discouragement. Adam cannot not blame Eve any more than Eve can blame the serpent for her choice. Saul, again in I Samuel 15, tries to justify his actions by blaming others. Then he tries to justify his actions by his intentions. He ignores and denies the problem through rationalizations and excuses.
Turning Away Again and Again
When I sin, it is my choice. I am not fated to sin. I am not born to sin. Our God is just and upright. He does not condemn us. We condemn ourselves. In Judges 10:6, God again gives Israel over to their sins and idolatry, and they again cry out to him. In this instance, God’s response is slightly different from before. He reminds His people how He has saved them time and again, and He makes it clear they have chosen that path one too many times. He tells them to cry out to their idols and to those they have turned to before. God finally delivers them when they choose to submit themselves to them and they put away those sins they had previously allowed.
We are too like these individuals in the book of Judges. We return to the well of sin too many times and them call out to God when our choices get us into trouble time and again. In Judges 6:16, we see a God hurt and saddened over the separation between Him and His people, and He does eventually deliver them when they truly repeat. We have to look at our own lives and our own choices, our seeking for answers away from God. Are we like these children of Israel, turning to God only when things get tough?
My sin is my own, and answers do not come from our violation of God’s will. David, in Psalms 32, writes of the pain in his life when he would hide his sin from himself and from God. In verse 5, however, he writes of his repentance and God’s forgiveness. David counts forgiveness as a joy. When we truly repent and turn from sin as the rebellion it is – regardless of circumstances or intentions – our God will forgive us and draw us toward Him again.
lesson by Tim Smelser