Everyone else is doing whatever they want: What do I do?
I've got a lot on my mind. I have been struck lately by the impact our culture is having on our ability to see sin, especially in ourselves. Things have become very watered down, very lukewarm. We live in a time of heightened moral relativism. We live in a time where ethics, morality and positions of right and wrong are culturally based and are therefore a person's choice. Read: our society is telling us that we can all decide what is right for ourselves. Except we can't. As Christians, we hold ourselves to the moral standard laid out in Scripture. This means we hold to it at all times, that we do not justify in our minds that a particular sin in our life is OK because society tells us we can decide that, because that voice in your head says, "it feels good so it must be right". We all justify our sin in different ways, here is quote on how word choice is a sign of this wishi-washi-ness:
There are several words that I am subconsciously softening in order to not sound like a sweaty, weird Christian. I wrote a post once about how we love to say “the enemy” instead of “satan.” And as popular as that word switch is, I recently stumbled on one I do even more often than saying “the enemy.” I’m talking about the word “sin.” I’ve written more than a quarter million words on StuffChristiansLike.net and almost never say the word “sin.” Is it because I don’t write about it? Is sin just not a topic I cover? Not at all. I deal with it all the time and honestly share what’s going on in my own life. I just use synonyms because I think that if I say “sin” some folks will label me a traditional fundamentalist super Christian Bible belter.
Here are the words I use instead: junk, struggles, failures, mistakes, baggage, issues, hang ups, problems, challenges. But caring what you think is only part of the reason I do this. The other explanation is that I work in the corporate world and you’re supposed to put a spin on bad things. You’re supposed to say, “I found an opportunity for improvement,” not “I made a mistake.” You should say, “I have identified some growth areas in my performance,” not, “I figured out where I failed.”
But when Christ died on the cross He didn’t do so because He wanted to shift my paradigm. He didn’t come to help me realize my full potential and unpack my baggage. He died because my sin was so great it separated me from God. He died so that my sin would die too. The big ugly, gross pile of sin, sin, sin, I was carrying around. Sin is one of those words intricately tied to my salvation and I don’t want to mute it in a sea of spin off ideas…
P.S. Doesn’t “Sin Synonyms” sound like a song from the movie Mary Poppins? “Sin Synonyms, Sin Synonyms, sin sin sharoo?”
-From "Sin Synonyms – Pretty ways to say an ugly word", originally published on "Stuff Christians Say" by Jon Acuff, www.jonacuff.com
"Sin is one of those words intricately tired to my salvation and I don't want to mute it in a sea of spin off ideas." Ooft. I do that quite often. I bury my sin in a pile of softer words so that I don't feel the weight of it all. I think, maybe, we all do. So I'm gonna lay it our clear as I can for you here.
Before we go any further, I want to say this. I, personally, have dealt with great and significant areas of sin. I have fallen far short of the glory of God, I have disappointed many people and have failed many, many times. I have also known what's it's like to have all of your sins laid out before people and to be shocked when they do not reject you, but instead show you love. I have seen many of my sisters break down with tears of shame and sadness, so like my own, trickling down their face when sins are finally brought into the light. Please remember: we all sin, we all have fallen short. But every time we bring our sin into the light and turn back to doing good, Jesus is there to meet us with open arms.The aim of this letter is not to cast stones, but to bring us closer to Christ and help you identify those things which are keeping you apart from Him.
What is temptation?
- Temptation is an invitation to sin- either by influence or by the offer of some good or pleasure
- Temptation is not a sin. It's part of being a Christian- even Jesus was tempted! Overcoming temptation is one of the ways we grow in our faith and in maturity and wisdom.
- It's not fun to be tempted- we pray against being tempted in the Lord's Prayer. But temptation is a test that the Lord wants us to pass!
- It is important to note that while all Christians are (and will be) tested, we sometimes live in a way that will cause us to be tempted more often and make it more difficult for us to do the right thing. What do I mean?
- Sometimes we allow ourselves to long for something we cannot or shouldn't have- this could be simply letting ourselves form a bad habit of thinking of something, or perhaps letting a bad habit become an addiction.
- Sometimes we choose to hang out with people who aren't trying to live a Christian life- we place ourselves in environments where there is a lot of sin and end up really feeling the pressure of the world.
- We do stuff that makes us more open to attack- we hide what we are doing and keep it out of the light. We don't get help and don't open up about areas of sin that are hard for us.
So what to do about temptation? Well first- know this. You can overcome temptation, you don't have to sin. You can and should fight temptation. And you should try to live wisely- avoid situations where you know you are weak and will be tempted.
Here are some Scripture verses for encouragement in fighting temptation:
- James 1:2-4 "My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing."
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
What is sin?
- The Greek word for "sin" in the Bible literally means, "to miss the mark". As Christians, we are trying to live a life free of sin, one that glorifies God. When we sin, we miss that target. If, in our lives, we go beyond the will of God, doing things He has said not to do or commanded us not to do, we have "missed the mark".
- 1 John 3:4 says "Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness, sin is lawlessness.". God has revealed to us in the Bible what his law is. When we break it, or ignore it, we are entering into sin.
- Romans 6:23 says "The wages of sin is death." Simply put- sin is deadly. It's deadly to our bodies and deadly to our souls.
It's important that we identify sin as sin- and call it what it is. It's not: junk, struggles, failures, mistakes, baggage, issues, hang ups, problems, or challenges. Sin is sin- deadly and capable of eternally separating us from Christ.
So...what do we do about this?
Give these questions some thought and consider the situations below:
Do I appreciate the weight of sin and recognize that it separates me from Christ?
- Situation: I lied to my parents last night and told them I was at my friend Katie's house- when I was actually at my other friends house watching a movie they probably wouldn't want me to watch. I feel bad about lying, but it's not a big deal, my parents would just be stressed out if they knew- and I don't want to stress them out. I'll just leave it be. No big deal.
- Solution: Lying is a sin. You need to come clean with your parents and ask for their forgiveness.
What are the areas in my life where I am tempted to sin? Are those areas of temptation being made more difficult by things I am doing, places I am going, or people I am hanging out with?
- Situation: Purity is important to you, but a boy you like has recently started Snapchatting you and you can see that it's pretty easy to start exchanging pictures of each other that aren't appropriate. You don't really want to delete Snapchat off your phone- so you just hope that it doesn't happen.
- Solution: Sounds like keeping Snapchat on your phone is going to make it pretty difficult for you to maintain purity and not start sending inappropriate pics back and forth. The best thing to do would be to delete Snapchat and remove the temptation altogether. Also- go talk to someone you trust who is a solid Christian about this boy you like. They can help guide you and encourage you in what is right.
Do I know what I should do when I've committed a sin?
- Situation: You've really messed up, but there is no way you are going to tell anyone. You're too ashamed and too afraid of what would happen if they found out you were a sinner.
- Solution (this is by no means a complete solution to what to do, but will help you get started): Remember- we have all sinned. First- go to God. *Confess your sin to him and ask for forgiveness. Next, figure out who else you need to tell and ask forgiveness from them. Lastly, seek support from people who will help you not to make the same mistake again.
*Christians approach this area differently. If you aren't sure what kind of confession you should make, talk to a trusted Christian friend, parent, or youth worker at your church to find out!
In closing, sisters, be encouraged and inspired to know God more and root our more sin in your life. Consider this quote from C.S. Lewis,
"When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.”
— from Mere Christianity
I know I wrote this quite bluntly- it's because I feel the world is watering down our ideas of right and wrong. Much of the point of this website is to know God more and to understand more deeply how to live as the courageous, faith and hope-filled daughters he has made us to be. We are called to be different from this world- and this area is a HUGE part of that. Let's do it well.
If you have questions on any of this, shoot me a message!