Sin. What An Ugly Word, Part I
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
So often we hear about God as a loving Father who lavishes love on His people like rainwaters in the rainforest. And yes, God is a God of love. He desires a relationship with us in a way we cannot comprehend. In fact, 1 John 4:16 tells us that not only does God simply love, but God IS love.
But what we don’t talk about a whole lot is that there is another aspect of God. God is a God of judgment. When we don’t even acknowledge this uncomfortable but true aspect of God, we are extremely remiss.
Does this seem like a contradiction? How can He be a God of love and a God of judgment all at the same time? 1 Peter 4:17 says this, “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?”
God has been in my face with a subject that most of us would prefer not to talk about–sin. Not my sin, of course, but … okay, yes … my sin, your sin, all sin. Sin–it's a word that, in today’s Christian circles, isn’t discussed much anymore. Today we would much rather talk about grace, mercy, and forgiveness. And why wouldn’t we? Those subjects are important and, let’s face it, make us feel really good. But we don’t require grace, mercy, and forgiveness without sin.
So why discuss sin at all? Well, because if you are a Christian, 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ. Think about that. Jesus is using us to be His hands and feet. But if we are truly going to be His hands and feet, we have to be like Jesus, not like the world. Being a Christian and walking with Christ looks a certain way. Matthew 7:16 tells us that we will know other believers by their fruit. So, what does that mean? What does that mean in reference to sin in our lives? How do we understand grace vs. law? Oh boy, in all honesty, it makes my head swim.
As I was talking to my sister about this difficult topic, she reminded me of an obvious example. The Westboro Baptist Church is a well-known church that pickets funerals with hateful and ugly signs. Their claim is that they spread this hate in the name of God. This type of vile hatred in the name of Christ makes my blood boil. Is this the fruit that Jesus was talking about? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Certainly not.
But what about the more subtle ways we live our lives that are … well, un-Christlike? Do we bear good fruit as people who are following Christ? What about the Christian who looks more like the world than like Christ? How about sin the world considers archaic, such as sex outside of marriage? Or sin that may not even appear to be sin, such as being a stumbling block for our brothers and sisters in Christ? What about gossip or unforgivenss? All sin.
Sin is an ugly world. It's a topic that is hard to discuss, so much so that one blog just doesn’t seem to cover the topic. So be sure to read next week’s blog as we continue the discussion. In the meantime, we have to remember that above all, God is a loving God. He wants the best for us. Those of us in Christ have freedom, but as we see in Galations, "For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love." (Gal. 5:13 NLT)