*Trigger warning* While I keep things as vague as possible (and the news article just states the facts) please don’t read the news article if you’d rather not. The title alone may be all you can stomach: Man gets 60 years in prison for trying to sell 4-year-old daughter for sex. Most of this blog post will move on from this initial news story.
GK Chesterton is often remembered for his remark that:
“Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology that can really be proved.”
Chesterton saw it as the one doctrine that could actually be verified by the observation of human behavior and history. I agree. How some can deny human sinfulness is beyond me. We are all sinful, and need a Savior. Yet many people, even Christians, can struggle with this doctrine. Many insist than humanity is really good at heart, even though we sometimes do bad things. Yes, people can do good. Many of us are not near as bad as we could be, but the fact remains that our basic nature is sinful.
In the news article I see evidence that this father was rationalizing what he was doing. For example, it says the daughter would be sedated. Therefore, she’d not remember what happened to her. I won’t continue to discuss this disturbing case, but move on to us.
We are all prone to rationalize our sin – whatever it may be. Rationalizing sin is nothing new. It has gone on since Adam and Eve. Remember the blame game about eating the apple? We look for ways to avoid admitting and taking responsibility for our actions by calling sin a mistake or an accident. “Hey, I am not perfect.” We are clever spiritual spin doctors who sanctify our sin by claiming a valid reason why we did it. “Hey, I had a good reason!” Or we say a certain sin is “private” and does not affect others – so all is well. The list goes on…excuses.
Sometimes we are not making excuses, but just blind to our sin. I’ve looked back to past times in my life, and became aware of sin that I had, then, completely failed to see.
If I overlooked sin in the past, what am I overlooking now?
Anything that makes light of sin makes light of the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. A light view of sin can lead to false views of God and lead to doctrinal errors. If you mess up the problem (sin), you mess up the solution (Christ and his great salvation).
Just admit it. You sin. More than you care to admit, or even realize.
Me too. I have sinful proclivities that never cease to amaze me. How could I think that? Say that? Do that?
What is the point here? To discourage? To hurt our sense of self? – No.
We must be brutally honest about our sin and not evade it or rationalize it. If you deny a problem, nothing can be done about it. Admit to it, and there is a possibility of solution. The truth can hurt, but the truth can also set you free. John 8:31-36. Romans 8:1-2.
Brennan Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel) says: “Getting honest with ourselves does not make us unacceptable to God. It does not distance us from God, but draws us to him – as nothing else can – and opens us anew to the flow of grace.”
The way up is down in Christianity. Read The Beatitudes. The blessed are those who are poor in spirit, mournful, and meek – those who realize they come to the spiritual table with nothing to offer. And here lies HOPE! Not despair or despondency.
When we realize our humble and sinful condition before the mighty and majestic God, we have opened the door for the Lord to minister to us. Confession and humility bring us closer to God. Self-righteousness and arrogance keep God at a distance. A multitude of Scripture verses back this up.
One of the Beatitudes says that the blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. I recently saw this quote:
“People who already feel righteous don’t hunger and thirst for it.” – Jack Deere
I have found that the more I grow and mature in my faith, the more I become aware of my sin – past and present. It might sound strange — But feeling less righteous, actually helps me progress in righteousness, as I turn to my only source of hope – JESUS.
I also recently saw this quote:
“Cheer up! You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.” – Jack Miller
Tim Keller said something similar: “You are worse than you think you are, but also far more loved than you feel you are.”
As I said above, we overlook sin – we are worse than we think. BUT God loves us! Romans 5:6-8 says: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Regarding those quotes by Jack Miller and Tim Keller, I’ve encountered those who are deeply offended. They feel that Jesus would never say such a thing. Jesus would never say “you are worse than you think you are.”
Jesus would – instead – say that you are His beloved child and deeply loved.
Well, yes, you are a beloved child and deeply loved! That is true. But Jesus would also say you are sinful. That is true too.
Where do we get this idea of a Jesus who only says nice and affirming things?
Not from the Bible.
Read the Gospels – Jesus said a lot of hard things. Such as: “You unbelieving and perverse generation.” Matthew 17:17 – They were worse than they thought they were.
And we should not overlook the messages Jesus had for 7 churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.
Jesus never said “you are worse than you think you are”??
Revelation 3:17 is pretty straightforward. Jesus says to a church:
“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
Jesus, how dare you say such a thing! I am wretched?! I am a Christian! I attend church!
This church was much worse than they thought they were.
But there is HOPE. Jesus goes on to say to this church:
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (verses 19-20)
Rebuke? Sometimes LOVE must speak hard words.
A book I recently reviewed on lament stated that historically…
Revival or renewal movements arose out of a deep humility about our need before God. It involves confession of sin, personal and corporate, and an admission of our dependence on God. One of the many paradoxes of Christianity is that the way up is down.
Yet most modern day attempts at revival are nothing like this. We just want to go up, up, up.
We don’t like the words…“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!”
Me, a wretch?! No way. I may not be perfect, but I am no wretch.
Did you know that in modern times that line of Amazing Grace has been changed, by some, to: “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved and strengthened me”? – Yes. The wretch line is offensive, especially in our age of self-affirmation and positive thinking.
You are a wretch. Just admit it. – It is the path to sweet and wonderful fellowship with Jesus. Jesus will come through the door (Rev. 3:20).
Read the Beatitudes again. The way up is down. Those who are poor in spirit, meek, and mourn… are BLESSED – comforted – and inherit the kingdom of heaven!!
Ephesians 2:4-5 states:
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
Because? Because we are wonderful? Nope. It is because of God’s love and grace towards us sinful people. The very nature of grace is that it flows down from God to the ungodly. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I’ll end by repeating the words of Brennan Manning, and a verse from Isaiah:
“Getting honest with ourselves does not make us unacceptable to God. It does not distance us from God, but draws us to him – as nothing else can – and opens us anew to the flow of grace.”
“For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
– Isaiah 57:15
P.S. The above content is a theme of my book.