Step into the light


There are three comments currently posted on yesterday’s Catch. There would have been four had not our good friend Robert from Seattle alerted me to the first one that is no longer there. The first one was from my wife, Marti, and she had some strong reactions to my Catch yesterday, and she let me know that in no uncertain terms. Now you have to realize this kind of ruthless banter is common in our relationship, just not something you want to make public to people who might not understand that. The thing is, when Marti clicked “Enter” on her iPhone for this scathing review, she thought she was sending it just to me. She wasn’t; she was posting her private comments on our website.

But as she always does, Marti went for the heart of the content  I’ve been writing about sin lately, and I had attempted to share some unhealthy thoughts that happened in my head that morning and tried to be honest with you about dealing with them — thoughts about my neighbors that popped into my mind that very morning as I walked out in front of my house to fetch the morning paper. Where Marti nailed me was that I didn’t go far enough in dealing with these thoughts which were sins. They must be called what they are. I had written about praying for my neighbors instead of harboring ill will. Marti didn’t think that was enough. Well here, let me quote her opening sentences: “My, my how simple. You just take your sin, apply it to an unhealthy thought, pray for the person, and wham … done! ‘Next,’ says the self-satisfied sinner.”

Now indeed praying for someone you are hiding hatred for in your heart isn’t a bad idea toward changing one’s attitude, but it doesn’t deal with the sin committed privately in your heart. And that’s what we’re talking about today.

According to Jesus, if I hold anger or hatred in my heart toward anyone, I am guilty of murder, and if I lust after the cute twenty-something across the street, I am guilty of adultery. Suddenly this is a much bigger deal than just what goes on in the privacy of my own mind. This is sin. This is walking in darkness. It is what it is and not just some thoughts I am entertaining in my head.

There is no such thing as private sin. Sin is sin. And if it doesn’t initially hurt anyone else, it hurts me. And it hurts my relationship with the Lord, forcing me to walk in darkness lest I come into the light and be fully exposed.

No one else is affected by this hiding (so I think), but that is a lie. I am deeply affected. I am drawn more into myself. I am more and more isolated and more and more distant from my own feelings. I am in darkness. After a while my best friends can’t find me; I can’t even find myself. Like the lines from one of my own songs (because I know the truth prophetically long before I act on it in my own life), “And while the world was out there dying, I was in here lying to myself.” 

There is no such thing as private sin. Sin is sin. And if it doesn’t initially hurt anyone else, it hurts me. And it hurts my relationship with the Lord, forcing me to walk in darkness lest I come into the light and be fully exposed.

There’s only one way to deal with this: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confession is to agree. This was sin. No sugar-coating it; no downplaying it; no bypassing it.

I have learned all the tricks to thinking of myself as maybe a sinner, but not a really bad sinner — like Marti says, “a self-satisfied sinner.” The trick is to keep it all in your mind and stay as isolated as possible so that everything stays private. You are deliberately walking in darkness deceiving everyone but yourself. You are trying to make the root of sin smell like baby powder and the sins that are a direct response to the root sin smell sweet.

What God wants us to do is to look at the sin before us and call it what He calls it. That means to agree with God about it, and that is what the word “confess” means: “fess comes from a root which meansto say,” and “con” means “with.” In other words, “to say with” God what He says about this thing; that is confessing sin.

“Out of the heart of man, proceed murders, adulteries, fornications, evil thoughts, etc.” Matthew 15:19. All these things come from within. The root is still planted deep within our physical natures and we will not escape it until the body is redeemed. 

Face the root of the sin — face the reality of the sin, confess the sin, and step into the light that provides the means for fellowship with Christ and each other.

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6 Responses to Step into the light

  1. Bob says:

    Just want to say how much I appreciate your honesty, walking in light and being exposed by it. “Fessing up” to our sins is necessary of course, but also repenting ( going in a complete opposite direction). When I’m searching for ways to be a blessing to my neighbors, instead of trying to avoid sinful thoughts, that’s when I know the Spirit is working. When I’m engaged in a bigger battle than just avoiding sin is when I’m less likely to veer off course. I’m not saying that I do this often, in fact it’s all too rare, but when it does happen. Wow, that’s a great day!
    Continue on the journey everyone! We’ve all got a long way to go, but it’s whole better in the light together.

  2. You’re correct when you say there is no private sin.
    Everyone is impacted to some degree, and that is the insidiousness of sin:
    You may not think that keeping certain thoughts or desires to yourself will affect anyone else but there is that unspoken communication between souls when one perceives something, perhaps indescribable in verbal words, that is off-kilter.
    Then there’s the discomfort for palpable reason
    That ogling or covetous eye, that slow sidling next to a figure of influence, the uncertain nodding of certainty at another’s genius, the fake-laugh at some witty repartee, etc…

    And, it seems ironic, but as in the case of Marti’s message, even our private comments are not truly private. Sometimes we slip, other times we’re “discovered.”
    What we say and relate to others is never a secret or confidential.
    In these days of hacking and ransomware attacks how can we know for sure that someone else isn’t monitoring us?
    And even without the internet, what we say in a whisper or under the cone silence to another person or under our breath is being heard by God above whether we like it or not.
    Heck, it might even be shouted from the highest hilltop much to our embarrassment!

    So, I guess it would be a good idea to practice the habits of pure thoughts and kind or uplifting words. I thinks there’s something in the Scriptures about that, isn’t there?

    Be a blessing. Be blessed.
    Be of good will. Be of good cheer.
    Be courageous. Be encouraged.

    Shalom, Peace…

  3. Toni Petrella says:

    The last part of today’s Catch tells it like it is very much and we should always try to do that instead of the well not much of a sin but, in God’s eyes its all a sin and confession with repentance is great now and has been always.

  4. Steve says:

    I’ve always loved the transparency of your devotions and (when they’re available) Marti’s reactions to them. This is the kind of dialogue we all need with God regarding sin – open, honest & direct with an open heart to what needs to be done next. Imagine how much better all of our relationships with God (& our significant others) would be if we all attained this level of honesty. Actually, I can imagine it… It would/will be Heaven.

  5. jwfisch says:

    Amen. Good comments, all!

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