Sin. Such a small word. It doesn’t look evil or intimidating, yet it holds the power to destroy marriages, families, even lives! But what is sin? The dictionary defines it as an immoral act considered to be a transgression against Divine law. In other words, sin is missing the mark of how God would have us live our lives.
But, wait!! We can’t talk about this!! Sin is well, sinful! We are just supposed to talk about righteousness and holiness…none of the “bad” stuff because it doesn’t make us feel good. In her book, The Mended Heart, Suzanne Eller says, “Sin is a topic we tend to shy away from, especially when it’s our own. If someone else brings it up, we wonder if they are judging, or trying to fix us or shame us. But what if we could just be honest about it? What if we could be real about the deep roots of pain and regret that sin embeds in our hearts, and about how sin affects us and those we love?” So can I be honest? Can I be real with you, dear reader?? My goal is not to judge or shame anyone, rather to bring to light what so often gets tucked into the darkness in our lives. I lived for so long, suffering in silence, hiding away my sins, all the while feeling deep shame and embarrassment…NO MORE!
So, I’m becoming a huge fan of the name it and claim it approach to sin. I’m not talking about the school of thought that teaches that we can lay claim to anything we want in life, no I am instead referring to naming sin sin and claiming it for what it is. I mean recognizing sin in our lives, confessing it and refusing to hide it away like the dark secret so many Christians act like it is. Why is that? Why do we feel like we can’t admit we are anything other than perfect? I’ll let you in on a little secret…no one is perfect!! Did you catch that?! NO ONE!! Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;” All means all…every man, woman and child that has ever lived or ever will live has fallen short of God’s plan.
“What if we could just be honest about it? What if we could be real about the deep roots of pain and regret that sin embeds in our hearts, and about how sin affects us and those we love?” -Suzanne Eller
Jesus is the only perfect, sinless person that has ever or will ever be! Jesus called sin out where it lived and He was criticized for it…for His willingness to meet sin in battle…to get right in with people and bring the things hidden in the dark into the light. Do you know what He said to those who criticized? “When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do.’ Then he added, ‘Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.'” (Matt. 9:12-13) So what does that look like? How do we show mercy when dealing with sin? I think the first thing we do, the first thing I have to do, is stop placing levels on sin!! Stop falling for the some sins are “better” than others or what someone else is doing is so much worse than what I am doing mentality. That’s simply not true and it’s not Biblical in the least. Sin is sin is sin is sin is…I hope you get the point! Robert Noland, author of Do You Believe?, states in his devotional that, “Because God is holy, he has one standard, one plumb line, drawn across mankind. One sin+one time=death. That is exactly where the old adage originates, ‘The ground is level at the foot of the cross.’ No “levels” of sin exist with God. Someone can’t be “better” than someone else when all have fallen and failed. Holiness can’t allow for any sin-neither doing the wrong thing or omitting the right thing.”
The problem is we want to call sin by different names to make ourselves feel better, myself included! There was a New Kids on the Block song I used to like (yes, I’m aware that I am pointing to my age with this one!! lol) titled, “Call It What You Want”. Part of the lyrics stated, “Call it what you want, baby, Girl I call it love.” Well, I’m saying we can “call it what we want” but God still calls it sin. Just because we want to water it down or call it something else, God doesn’t change and sin is sin! But..what about…
…”little white lies” (deception)…God still calls it sin.
…”just getting ahead” (greed)…God still calls it sin.
…”an alternative lifestyle” (same-sex relationships)…God still calls it sin.
…”just getting the scoop” (gossip)…God still calls it sin.
…”checking out the goods” (lust)…God still calls it sin.
…”getting my money’s worth” (gluttony)…God still calls it sin.
…”taking him/her for a test drive” (pre-marital sex/cohabitation)…God still calls it sin.
…”we just grew apart” (affair)…God still calls it sin.
Does that list bother you? Do you say, “But wait!!! This one or that one shouldn’t be on there! Everyone does that! It doesn’t hurt anyone.” Believe me when I tell you that I understand if you’re feeling that way…I felt that way! But our feelings do not dictate right and wrong to a Holy God. This list doesn’t even begin to cover all the behaviors and choices in life today that are indeed sin but so often get written off as no big deal. I’m not calling you out on things I won’t admit…remember my name it and claim it mentality? Everything on that list? I’m naming it and claiming it…it is indeed sin and I am guilty. Does that surprise you? Disgust you? Offend you? Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” I believe we all need to drop our “stones”. I think we need to pull off the mask that some sins are “ok” and others are not…that is a lie straight from the devil and all believing it will do is keep us isolated, hiding and in bondage. How do we get free??
“When we realize that our Savior isn’t afraid to talk about our sin, we don’t have to remain broken anymore. We can embrace the truth that this isn’t His plan for any of us. We are free to see sin as a disruption of God’s perfect plan, and to stop it at the point of conception, rather than entertain it, nurture it, and give birth to it.” -Suzanne Eller, The Mended Heart Did you catch that? We can stop sin before it destroys everything we hold dear. But how? We have to stop hiding our sins away and pretending they don’t exist or that we don’t struggle!! Doing that gives them a power over us that we can’t allow them to have. When we keep our sins secret it is far too easy to turn them into our little playthings. We think about them and take them out to roam when we think no one is looking but we forget about El Roi: the God who sees. He sees each sin.
When we hide our sins away we also isolate ourselves…we begin to feel like no one else could possibly understand because surely no one else deals with this…I mean, no one is talking about it so I must be all alone in this struggle, right?! This creates a sense of shame that, in my case at least, leads us to run even further from God. I ended up feeling so ashamed that I just began embracing my sins because I felt like there was no escape. That’s what shame does and it’s exactly what the devil wants for us.
I am tired of hiding away the sin struggles that I’ve faced and that God has rescued me from for fear of how I’ll be received by others. Do you know how I’ve been received by our Holy God? With compassion, grace, mercy and forgiveness…the same way you’ll be received if you approach Him in true repentance.
Regardless of the sin.
Regardless of the shame.
Regardless of the “level” you or others have placed on the sin.
Let’s step into the light together! Let’s shine a light on sin and it’s presence in our lives so that no one feels they are walking this path alone. Let’s strip away sin’s secretive power, in Jesus’ name. I am calling it what God calls it…sin! You are not alone. Jesus came to pay the price for it all..no matter what “level” you want to place on it…no matter what you call it!