“As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.”
~ Charles H. Spurgeon
Notice how we don’t like to talk about sin? In some ways it feels like an old concept, a religious word, a word you want to avoid in the marketplace lest someone think you are a religious nut. Billy Graham used to talk a lot about sin. Some of our pastors talk about sin. But it’s not an everyday word. Use “sin” in your vocabulary and people might look at you a little funny. But sin is real, and as the Spurgeon quote above indicates, it is pervasive in our characters, our lives, our very make-up.
One of the most insidious things about sin is how we can hide it so well. Already today I’m aware of some condemning thoughts towards one person, unpleasant thoughts about my neighbor who put noisy chickens in her front yard, slothful thoughts about something I don’t want to do this morning, and not very happy thoughts about my other neighbor whose dog barks at me whenever he sees me. Not to mention the cute twentysomething daughter of my neighbor across the street whom I imagine is in love with me. (Ha! That’s laughable.) And this is just an hour into the day, and that’s all in my head just from walking out front to get the paper! Nobody knows about this but me (and God, of course — and now, you!). And have I talked to God about any of this? Well, not yet. No wonder Catholics have so many masses in a day; this is hard to keep up with if you really start being aware of it.
We just can’t let stuff like this hang around in our brains without dealing with it. It will become more ingrained in us and we will be less aware of it and soon it works its way into our behavior. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” wrote Solomon, and he should know (Proverbs 23:7 KJV). This is the kind of stuff we have to be ruthless about. Paul wrote, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). “Take captive every thought.” That is a tall order — a serious mental exercise that takes a conscious effort. But a privilege to one who is overjoyed over being already forgiven for these things.
Here’s what I did. Instead of letting any of the attitudes fester, I prayed for each person I mentioned above and watched my attitude immediately change as I did.
At the root of every sin is self and selfishness. We want to please ourselves first before anything. Once we come to Jesus, that changes, and we want to please Him. This isn’t legalistically fighting off sin, it is walking with Jesus, which is walking in the light; and in the light, we see what we are doing, and what needs to be done, so we know what action to take.