DISCLAIMER: I get all psychological and analytic about a concrete instance of me sinning particularly [yes, I know, technically, it should be “my sinning particularly,” but correct grammar is actually harder to understand in this case – it hinders comprehensibility…]. If confessions and analysis of a particular sin is not your kind of read, then you may want to find another post to read. Sorry… Anyway…
Any responsible and careful reader of the Bible will know that we are weak in ourselves. Sin and Satan sometimes don’t even need to work all that hard to tempt us into doing something we do not want to do, though we are too weak to resist. If it weren’t for the grace and power of Christ and for the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, we would still be under the slavery of the dominion of Sin, as powerless and as pitiful as a random Israelite during the time of Pharaoh’s oppression.
But what I want to write about today is that there are times when we are experientially (i.e. we feel like we are) “above the influence” of sin, if you will. A family member recently told me that recently I have been somewhat of a jerk / a**hole (i.e. rude, insubordinate, haughty, conceited, inconsiderate, etc.). I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
Now as you can imagine, I wasn’t going to let this criticism slide on by. I didn’t like this, and as usual, demanded to make this person justify his accusations. Never mind the fact that I knew pretty well he was almost completely right. But I had to hear him tell it, because God forbid this person truly accuse me of something though not back it up with support. [Side note: now, for everyone out there who point out people’s flaws, keep doing it, but please take the time and extra effort to show the person you are correcting why they are deserving of this constructive criticism – it really helps them to hear your criticism. But I digress.]
Okay, so I was not happy about this. But, mind you, I wasn’t angry or furious in one sense. If you actually hooked me up on the spot with a battery of physical tests, you will have probably not seen my blood pressure rise all that much. Experientially, I did not feel hot-blooded. I was indignant, but I felt calm and collected and totally in control of my emotions.
So I didn’t “lose my temper” or “blow my top” or raise my voice. But what I did was I consciously became what I was accused of (namely, being a rude, arrogant, self-conceited, self-righteous, “innocent” jerk) just to spite the other person and “punish” them for accusing me “falsely/unfairly.” I did not play the victim card, but went on full offense and defense, parring their words with well-constructed phrases and other things that let me off the hook. I was firing back with cold and cruel precision.
But, of course, in doing so, not only was I sinning in my self-righteousness, I was sinning by intentionally and spitefully becoming explicitly the sinning person I was accused of being.
The whole time I felt like I was in full control of my emotions and my other faculties, but my very actions (though not my feelings, interestingly enough) betrayed my sinfulness and my willingness to let sin take over and manifest itself in my actions. So sin actually won out and manifest itself in me, even though I was in “full control” of myself. Weird, huh?
Sin did not even need to try to tempt me to anger or spite. I freely chose it. I intentionally chose it. I acted like the donkey in heat from the Book of Ezekiel. I didn’t need Sin to bring lovers to seduce me into sin. I freely searched out Sin.
To put it another way, let us consider the foolish young lad in Proverbs, who gets hooked and seduced by the smooth words of the adulterous harlot. We all recognize (or at least ought to) the utter foolishness of that young man tempted by sin.
But today, I acted even more foolishly than that young man. Today, I didn’t even need Sin to tempt me. It wasn’t like I was that innocent young man trying to be good, and stumbling upon a prostitute and falling in with her. Rather, I was even more foolish, for there was no harlot to tempt me, but I went out and chose to sin. How foolish is that?
I guess I wanted to write this to show the cunningness and slyness of Sin. I want to warn you to be vigilant, but I am not writing this to make any Christian despair. For I cannot in good conscience write that this happened because Sin truly reigns in me, because that would be a lie. Sin is powerful (it has dominion over this world for sure), and it is smart, and it is efficient, and it is sneaky, and it can indeed tempt and cause me to stumble many times, but it cannot and does not reign in me, because Christ reigns in me.
I may still be weak and powerless, and I may even, perversely, open the back door to let sin enter my heart, given that I am still a sinner and not perfectly whole, but I am already Christ’s very own. I am already sanctified. I have already been bought with a price, and I am no longer my own, so even if I betray myself and try to give myself over to sin, Christ can go to Sin and say, “Dean has no right to hand himself over to you. He has already been bought with my blood. He is already united to me, and I will not let him go.”
Granted, we may be handed over temporarily to sin, and we are not fully sanctified, and we must struggle and fight against Sin all our life, but let us never forget that Christ has already struck the fatal blow to Sin and Death and Satan, and he will strike the Final, Decimating Blow to Death and Sin itself.