Thursday, June 4, 2009

Degrees of Sin

I, like you, am a sinner. Perhaps, like me, from time to time you do some self-evaluation to recognize areas of sin in your life and then work on them with goals and purpose and effort. It is interesting that I don't fully appreciate how certain areas of my life are infected until I reflect on them for a while. Slowly I become sensitized to the problem, with its causes and effects. Sure it is great to work toward self-improvement, working toward some ideal or respected paradigm. However, when I fall short of my goal, or witness old attitudes resurfacing that I thought I had quelled, it really frustrates me and deflates me. Oftentimes I try to delude myself that my latest sin wasn't to the same degree as before, or at least I had behaved myself for a time. However, I ultimately understand that my sinful nature is so entwined with my life that I will never be free of it. It will always be waiting to bubble up to the surface. That old tormenter has returned.

I have had long discussions with several friends about the nature of sin. Are there lesser sins and greater sins? Are there varying degrees of sin with consequent degrees of retribution? While this debate has gone on for some time, the answer seems to be maybe. However, the answer to the question really does not matter. The Bible teaches that sin is what separates man from God (see Isaiah 59:2). It doesn't matter what you have done or the extent of your transgression, sin is a rebellion against God, and all sin can be equally harmful in separating us from him.

Now I realize that this sounds like there is no hope. We are screwed and there is nothing that we can do about it. Some might say that as we are already guilty, why even try? Why not just live our lives and do whatever we want to do? My personal belief though is that sin is in our nature and we will never be separated from its shadow. However, I truly believe that our Lord is well pleased with us when we work on ourselves in his name, when we make efforts to turn to him for strength and support. When we own up to who we are and what we are and seek him out for his compassion, grace, and forgiveness. It doesn't matter how many times we have fallen, it is the getting up that counts.