Monthly Archives: April 2011

Little Sin. Big Sin.

When you think about “sin” do you tend to think of it in terms of “little sin” and “big sin”?  Do you think of it as if God is going to have this cosmic scale, and He’s going to put your good stuff on the “good side” and your bad stuff on the “bad side” and whichever side weighs more that’s where you’ll be heading?  Do you envision the scale, and some sins are HUGE WEIGHTS on the bad side…and others are on the bad side but more like a skinny piece of paper?   I think people sometimes think of it as though some sins carry more weight and are “bigger” and some sins are pretty light and kind of little.  For example a “little white lie” isn’t really all THAT bad.  After all it’s not an outright lie–it’s just misleading or omitting part and the rest is actually true or thinking of the other person’s feelings and protecting them with a little dishonesty. Oh it’s not entirely right, because it’s a little bit dishonest, but it’s not “wrong.”  That can’t be all THAT bad can it?  On the other hand there are some sins that people generally think of as big ones: murdering, raping, adultery–those are all clearly wrong and on the bad side of the scale, those sins would be BIG and really tip the scale!

Did you ever notice that the sins that you do are probably the ones you think of as “smaller,” and the ones that other people do are “bigger”?  Sure you swear a little–maybe drink on weekends–look at the occasional x-rated pic–even lie a little tiny bit so your spouse’s feelings aren’t hurt.  But all-in-all you still think of yourself as a pretty decent person, and you may look at a person in jail for murder or even at your disloyal spouse and think to yourself, “Oh sure I’m not perfect but I would NEVER (fill in the blank here).”  On the other hand the sins of other people are ENORMOUS!!   The lady at church who gossips about your personal business–that’s a huge, unforgivable sin.  The guy at work who cheats on his job, steals from the company and gets caught–that’s big sin!

When it comes to infidelity, loyals very often look at their disloyal and think that the sin of adultery is a HUGE sin but barely even think about their own.  If they even did something to contribute, it was little and not anywhere near as big as adultery!   This week, though, a person I know and consider highly on another forum reminded me that sin is sin is sin.  God has set a high and holy standard of righteousness and Romans 3:23 tells us that “…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  God demands perfection, and not only does he demand outward perfection but also INWARD–in the heart and mind.  “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”  (Matt. 23:28)   The person on the other forum had a spouse who was actively committing adultery but who refused to repent, but prior to the spouse’s departure, this person had fairly regularly looked at porn.  Since the spouse’s affair, the person had stopped viewing porn in all forms, but as we all so frequently do, had thought “Well sure I wasn’t perfect but looking is not the same as doing!  It’s small.  But actually COMMITTING adultery..well that’s a big sin! Huge!”

In Matthew 5: 17-19 Jesus is talking to his disciples and asks them: “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”  He is telling them that our actions outwardly are a result of/linked to our inner condition–our heart.  When our heart looks at things selfishly, with lust, desiring it for ourselves and in an immoral way…that is the condition of our inner self and that is sin. We’ve all heard the verse that’s part of the Sermon on the Mount:  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” ( Matt. 5:27)  Again here, Jesus is telling us that sin is not only what we do OUTSIDE in our actions, but also INSIDE in our inner mind.  What we think about is what we talk about and what we eventually DO.

As Christians, we are not to try to stay away from “big sin” or to keep our sin small enough that it is hidden or just inside our thoughts.  We were in the sea of sin and we drowned in it and we were DEAD, but Christ rescued us from that death and breathed into us new life.  We are not supposed to wash the outside of the cup while the inside remains filthy (Matt 23:25-26). Rather than looking at the sins of others and thinking about how their sin was so big but ours was (relatively) small, let’s clean even our insides and our inner selves by renewing our mind. (Romans 12:2)  If you are the disloyal spouse, don’t be so prideful that you avoid seeing how dishonest, distrustful and hurtful your affair really was to your loyal.  Don’t minimize it and maximize what they did–look to yourself!  Be honest–it was sin, it displeased God and hurt your spouse and almost destroyed your family!  If you are the loyal spouse, don’t think of how “small” your sin was in your marriage before the affair.  There were issues.  They harmed you, harmed your marriage, and MOST IMPORTANTLY harmed your relationship with God!  Both disloyal and loyal need to keep the focus on obeying God and pleasing Him inside and out…not the the “size” of what you did wrong.

Advertisements

Resurrection

Today is Easter Sunday so it’s a perfect day to consider the idea of resurrection, especially when you are thinking about trying to resurrect your dead marriage to a whole new life.  Before the affair, your marriage was ill, but it was at least still alive and the patient was fighting for life.  An affair can truly be a marriage-killing event, and even when someone tries to bring back their marriage from the brink, it’s not enough to bring back the same old, sick marriage.  What HAS TO HAPPEN is that there needs to be a resurrection–an entirely new life.

How does someone do that?  Maybe you’re a loyal spouse who has made the choice to stand for your family despite the awful things your disloyal spouse says or does.  Maybe your a disloyal spouse and you had the affair, but realizing it was wrong you ended it and told your loyal, and now they can’t forgive you.  HOW does someone bring back a marriage “from the dead” and resurrect a new marriage, with new life and new hope?

Well to be honest, I could tell you some steps.  I could share some quizzes that would help you get to know yourself better and your spouse better.  I could use the quizzes as a way to open discussions about things like “actions you do that hurt me” or “actions you used to do that made me feel loved.”  And all of those steps and quizzes *are* helpful in that you will benefit from knowing yourself and your spouse more thoroughly, and you will know how to verbalize what you think or feel. That can’t hurt!  But there is so much more! What you really need is not “quizzes” or “steps,” but really YOU need to change and be remade from the inside out. What you need is transformation by the renewing of your mind–and that begins and ends with Jesus Christ.

Today Christians around the world are celebrating Easter, but unlike all the commercials on TV, Easter is not about the Easter bunny, chocolate, or even delicious ham dinner with the family.  Easter is a day of new life and new hope. Why?  Well it’s fairly simple.  Human beings are sinful [“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” ~Romans 3:23 NIV 2011] and God is not; He is perfect holiness and righteousness.  No matter how much we may wish that God would put our “good stuff” on one side and our “bad stuff” on the other and then let us be with Him if our “good” outweighs our “bad”–that’s wishful thinking and not the way it is. If there is even ONE thing on the “bad stuff” side, we’re guilty–all of us.  Now, it’s not for me to stand here and judge you, but look into your own heart.  Anyway, God gave Moses the Law (the 10 Commandments, etc.) not because He was saying, “Okay if you guys can do *this* why then you’re good” but rather as a way of pointing out that we can’t do it!  We need help!  The sacrifices were not a way for us to work our way into being good, but rather so we could see that our sin–our guilt–required blood-life as a stand-in.  Life-for-life.  And in those old days God promises that one day He would send one that would be THE sacrifice.  [“After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities” ~Isaish 53:11]

While we were not worthy, guilty, and a mess, God looked at us and sent us a gift: Jesus Christ.  [” But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8]   Now Jesus was God and human at the same time, and while He was here on earth He did exactly what God told him to do.  He lived perfectly–obeying every law and having exactly the thoughts and actions that God wanted.  He was the only one who ever met that “perfection” requirement, and by doing so He had nothing to pay for–WE on the other hand, did have a penalty that we deserved, which was separation from God.  It’s like we jumped into the sea of sinning and drowned in it, and we were dead.  Jesus was alive.  Jesus agreed to pay the penalty that we owed…and thus He was THE sacrifice that God had promised!    So there we are, drowned and dead, and we can’t do anything to help ourselves or anything–we’re DEAD.  But Jesus took our punishment and He took our death on himself–not only physical “dead body” death, but also spiritual “separation from God” death.  He knew it was coming and still allowed our guilt to be placed on Him, even though He was guiltless and alive. [“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” ~John 3:16-17]

The transforming, renewing, celebration of Easter is that He did die–but three days later He DEFEATED death and HE resurrected–came back to life.  When He came back, He not only was living new life but now He is pulling us out from being drowned in sin, and He breathes new life into us!  We were DEAD!  No hope to do anything but keep sinning and our situation was hopeless.  But now, we have hope and a choice to be new–brought back from the dead to new life in Christ.  We celebrate today, Easter, because Jesus did all that for us when we didn’t deserve it, and today is the day He rose.  We remember.

If you really want a new marriage, you can do quizzes and take steps, but what you REALLY need is to breath new life into something DEAD!  In real life what you need is Jesus Christ to utterly change you and bring you alive again.  With that change, your mind will transformed and you will be NEW.