Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sin is a Relationship

Thoughts from my reading in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp. Devotional is indented.

Against you, you only, have I sinned. Psalm 51:4

Sin is much, much more than the violation of a set of rules. Sin is more profound than rebellion against a moral code. Sin is about something deeper than behaving inappropriately. It's deeper than bad actions and wrong words.

As we noted earlier, when you witness the body of an infant, who's not yet able to communicate with words, stiffen up in anger, you know you're dealing with something bigger, deeper, more fundamentally disturbing than a failure to observe a code of conduct. He wants to make up his own rules; rules that would, of course, follow the shape of what he wants, what he feels, and what he determines he needs.

As I read this I thought of how I act when I am in the place of this infant; when I don’t get what I want. I may not throw a tantrum like the baby but I accomplish the same thing in a more sophisticated way. I may close off to others; I may feel God isn’t taking care of me in the right way; I may become sullen.

The desire to be God rather than to serve God lies at the bottom of every sin that anyone has ever committed. Sin isn't first rooted in a philosophical debate of the appropriateness or healthiness of a certain ethic. No, sin is rooted in my unwillingness to find joy in living my life under the authority of, and for the glory of, Another. Sin is rooted in my desire to live for me. It's driven by my propensity to indulge my every feeling, satisfy my every desire, and meet my every need.

This is where I live when I don’t trust God to be the Sovereign. I think about what I want rather than living for Him and in the service of others. The focus of life is ME and what I don’t have.

This is why David says, "Against you, you only, have I sinned." He isn't denying the enormity of his sin against Bathsheba, his violation of his calling to the citizens of Israel, or his capital crimes against Uriah, Bathsheba's husband. What he's understanding in his confession is that every sin is against God. In his conviction, David under-stands that sin is an act of relationship or, better stated, a violation of the one relationship that's to be the shaping factor of everything I do or say. Every sin is vertical, no matter how thunderous the horizontal implications of it arc. It's God, for whom and through whom we were created to live, whose boundaries we step over, because we don't love him the way that we should.

Sin breaks my relationship with God and hurts other people. Because I did what I wanted, the pain is spread around. I hurt, God hurts and most of the time, others are hurt.

Because sin is about the breaking of relationship, restoration of relationship is the only hope for us in our struggle with sin. It's through the gift of adoption into relationship with him that we find what we need to gain power over sin. And what do we need? A greater love for him than we have for ourselves. His love for us is the only thing that has the power to produce in us that kind of love for him.

God’s amazing grace shines again. We love because He first loved us. We are able to love because He first loved us. And He keeps loving us even when we mess us.

Here is a question from the meditation:

Think about a place in your life where you tend to want to be God rather than wanting to serve God. What would change in your decisions, words, and actions if you intentionally sought to please God in this situation?

I like to control my own schedule. I can get bugged when people or things get in the way of my carefully laid plans. If I rested more in God’s schedule, I would be less irritated when plans need to change. As a result I would be more pleasant to be around.


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