The connotation of this word brings a range of emotions from sadness to frustration to rage. I believe it has a negative connotation because the word has been associated with so many vile things which have hurt many people. For our lives to be full in Christ I think we must look deeper than the connotation.
We are usually ok when the word SIN is applied to something “out there”. Christians and unbelievers alike are great identifiers of what’s wrong with the world. Yet, when the identifier of “SINNER” is applied to us, our systems seem to have trouble handling that possibility. It stings us.
And then the range of emotions come.
When SIN is exposed in our life, we see a grieving process take place. There’s denial, bargaining, anger and depression. They sometimes come with tears and vigor, defense and rage.
I spoke in Sunday’s message about the arguments and division that come from discussions in the Church about SIN, it’s depth, effect and reach into the world. I could see for multiple people, our work through this subject produced an emotional reaction. I believe in varying forms, that process of grieving was present in the room.
This is a good thing. It’s not a pleasant thing, but it’s good. I want us all to know that grieving SIN is what God wants. We should grieve SIN because He does. (Genesis 6:5-6) Consider two stories in the Old Testament.
A King Repents
In the book of 2 Kings chapters 22-23, the king Josiah (at 8 years old) inherited a kingdom which had forgotten the law and desires of God. He was born into a society that had abandoned God and openly endorsed the worship of idols.
When Josiah was 26, he gave orders for the Holy temple to be repaired. When these repairs were being done, they found a book that was obscure to them. It was the Law of Moses found in the book of Exodus, expanded upon in Leviticus and Numbers and then explained in Deuteronomy. It was THE law; the collection of God’s commands for His people, and they had forgotten it.
When Josiah’s servant brought him the book of the Law and he read it, he grieved visibly at the realization that his people were apart from God. (2 Kings 22:11-13)
Not only did he grieve, but his grief was heard by God and his sins were forgiven. Josiah’s grief was God’s means of GRACE to him.(2 Kings 22:15-20) Josiah spent the rest of his reign correcting the people’s worship and directing them to righteousness.
Still God exiled the people to Babylon because their hearts were flighty and didn’t grieve SIN.
The People Repent
Much later, In the book of Nehemiah chapters 8 & 9, the Holy temple was being repaired from the Babylonian invasion and exile. As part of the commitment of the temple and the correction of Israelite worship, the scribe Ezra read the Law before the people.
Grieving happened. And it was good.
The people wept, wore sackcloth and ashes, they confessed and repented together. (Nehemiah 8:9, 9:1-3) In that span of time, the Israelites realized their sin, confessed, repented and blessed the Lord together. (Nehemiah 9:5-37) Lives were forgiven and corrected. GRACE happened through grief by the means of realized SIN.
God longs to show GRACE to His people. He loves us so much. He shows us when we are wrong, so that we can admit it, turn from it and draw closer to Him. This happens at the beginning of the believer’s relationship with Jesus. It even happens during our relationship with Him yet our SIN cannot sever the connection to Him. That fact humbles me.
I know it’s hard when our SIN becomes apparent. We don’t want to SIN, we don’t strive for error. Yet it gives me peace to know that, through realization and grieving, my unintended failures can be a bridge to a closer relationship with God in Jesus.