It can be deceptively easy to condemn sin in other people. When a man cheats on his wife of twenty years or when a woman abuses a child, it is easy to wonder what would drive someone to behave in such a manner. “What is wrong with them?” we think. Adultery and abuse are obvious sins that run a wide swathe of ruin through many lives. But what many of us don’t realize is that the root of those things, the beginning, lies within all of us.
We can read in Psalm 143:2, “For in Your sight no one living is righteous,” and again in 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” Therefore, we understand that all of us have sin, that is, the tendency towards doing evil.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, … contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions …” Galatians 5:19-20.
An inclination for sin
We all carry within ourselves an inclination to evil. It is a part of us. It is totally natural to be jealous, to be angry, to lust after a man or a woman. And when we give into these natural inclinations, we agree that it is OK to sin, and it becomes manifest in our bodies. We can go so far as to deceive ourselves, through human reasoning, into thinking that things are not sin. “It’s too small to matter,” or “it doesn’t really feel that wrong.” As our lives go on, if we don’t nip those sins in the bud right from the first moment we become aware of temptation, we become trapped in lust, anger, jealousies, contentions, etc. What started out as “just a little thing; it’s not that bad,” is now an affair, a lifelong grudge, a case of abuse, or an addiction. Like Jesus, we need to condemn these sins the moment they appear, without allowing any reasoning or deception of Satan to sway us from what is written in the Word of God. Then the temptations never get the chance to become manifest as sin in our bodies and in our lives.
That’s not the way it’s meant to be for us! “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Romans 6:12. Paul writes very clearly that when we give into sin, then we become slaves of sin. But to become free from this slavery, we must first hate sin. We have to have an attitude like David had. “Do I not hate … those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.” Psalm 139:21-22. Of course, this is not easy, because sin is human; it is a part of us. This is why so many never become free from adultery, contentions and outburst of wrath; they are so much a part of us that we cannot naturally hate them.
But we are not to stay natural and human, we are meant to become divine. “… that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4. When we see our own sin, we can pray to God for help to hate it. Having a hatred for the sin we see in ourselves is the first step on the way to becoming free. Then we need to pray for faith to fight against the sin that we hate, so it will not exert its powerful effect over our lives and the lives of those around us. We become less “human” and more like Jesus. Instead of becoming unhappy and destroying our lives and the lives of those around us, we can be a blessing during our time here on earth.
“But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day!” Proverbs 4:18.