I just read a great article at Christianity Today and wanted to share it with you. It’s called, My Dad the Sinner and Saint and I recommend everyone read it carefully. Pay special attention to the end where the author says this…
…a young man sat on stage with his wife sharing about an affair he had had early in their marriage. He talked about being “disgusted” with himself, even as it was happening. Oprah rolled her eyes: “You were disgusted while you were having sex with this neighbor?” Her scorn was palpable. And I thought, Of course he was! That’s how sin works! As Augustine, the premiere Christian theologian on sin, wrote, “For these two can coexist in one person: both the hating it because one knows it is evil and the doing it because one decided to do it.”
As he so often was, Augustine is right on this one and every single one of us has experienced. The Apostle Paul said it before Augustine did however:
15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Romans 7:15, 18-18, 21-23 (ESV)
That’s the reality of sin in our lives. There is almost always that duality of loving it and hating it and what it does to us and other parsimoniously. I hate what being drunk does to me and my family but I take the drink. I hate what cheating on my spouse does to my kids but I do it anyway.
One of my personal biggies is junk food of course. I hate being fat, hate how it makes me look and feel and hate what it does to my health. But without relying on God’s power I will eat that crap anyway.
Every single time.
And I’ll hate myself for it as well. Which shows us just how brilliant Satan really is. Because it’s that shame that drives us to try and hide our sin, which cuts us off from the help and support we need. It also drives us to relieve the pain it brings and the way we usually do that is by returning to the booze, sex, food, lying, etc.
Physics tells us that a vacuum is filled by whatever is closest to it – thus your drink shoots up the straw as you draw the air out of it. What could be closer to me than my habitat sin? Just like the ice tea I had yesterday at lunch, it shoots right back into my life unless I have a power beyond myself to stop it.
The real answer to the shame and guilt of sin isn’t to rename it or to claim it’s not sinful any longer. The real answer to confess that it is a sin – it’s my sin – and to find the forgiveness and inner healing that only Jesus Christ can provide.
I pray we’ll all remember this in whatever struggles with sin we’ll experience today.