In the last post I breached the topic of Sin and was asked to expound a bit. Some agreed, some thought I was too one-sided. I’m okay with that, and want to take some time on this relaxing Friday last-day-of-vacation to run around the bushes a bit with this topic that hits so close to home for so many of us.
Sin, transgression, unrighteousness – these have been wrapped up in the vocabulary of law and deeds. Most of us as Christians might agree that we are saved by faith through grace, not but works or anything we can do on our own to merit God’s forgiveness. At the same time, while not “saved by grace”, we will be quick to call on judgment and condemnation according to our works – you’re not saved by works, but you sure can fry by ’em. But in reading through Paul and the rest of the NT, what if we see that trying to live/die by works actually is one way to do it? If you want to live by works, be our guest – but be perfect, because there are no loopholes that way.
What’s the other way? Live in Christ. Work out your life in and through and dependent on the full empowering cooperation of the Holy Spirit. Follow hard after God. We will all still fall short of the glory of God, but we are also justified in that relationship that He alone is seeking to restore, reconcile and rebuild. Sin, in this way, is the thing about us that wants our own way. It’s more about selfishness and power-mongering, more about fear and settling for less. Sin is anything that isn’t what God has laid out as His best.
Look at Adam and Eve. The problem with the tree wasn’t necessarily that it was a bad choice – it was just a choice outside of the best God had in store. It was a decision made without God’s blessing, outside his provision, beyond His protection. Once they crossed a line in reality – did it show that they were already falling too close to that line in their hearts? did they really want it all along? – once they decided for themselves they could make their own way without God, that’s what God left them to. And He’s been wooing us back to Himself ever since.
In this second scenario then, the law is indeed a schoolmaster leading us to Christ. How? By showing us that the Law is the thing that will fall short. By being the apple, by showing us that we can’t do it on our own in any way, shape, form. It opens up the possibility and hope of this other way – the path that follows Christ and seeks to live life and love life through Him and Him alone.
Just a few other assorted pre-nap-time thoughts. Sin doesn’t have to be the end-all-beat-all of our existence, because it’s not the end of God’s love for us.