So, as our culture dismantles a biblical standard of righteousness, it has swiftly installed some high bars of its own:
tolerance, fitness, environmentalism, clean eating, hyper-involved parenting, simplicity, productivity, charity — to name just a few.
The danger is not always this new tree of righteousness. Each branch has a seed of God in it; it is why these works can hold our weight for a time.
The danger is thinking that breaking these new rules are our true sins.
The original sin was not disobedience. It was disbelief — not trusting that God’s word and provision and presence were enough. In order to reach out for what was wrong, they had to first reject the fact that God was telling them truth.
Our original sin is believing that God is a liar.
That He isn’t good enough.
That He hasn’t done enough.
That He can’t give enough.
That He won’t be enough.
This real sin runs underneath all my cultural righteousness. It’s what lets me
- Lie down in bed with a thousand worries but little gratitude.
- Militantly choose what I will and won’t eat, but never thank God for the abundance of food He has provided, or remember that mothers around the world would give up their lives to offer their starving child what I deem unworthy for my mouth.
- Give water to people across the ocean, but not my place in line in the grocery store.
- Care diligently for my body, then use it in ways that aren’t for His glory.
- Protect the earth but not my neighbor, who is destined to perish apart from Christ.
I know I’m wasting my time, ruminating and hating myself over invented sins, when I believe I can fix them with a new plan — with trying harder. Seeing my true sin always stops me in my tracks with its ugly pervasiveness, how unfixable it is.
Real sin points me to the total poverty of my righteousness — and my desperate need and gratitude for Jesus.
Colossians 2:14 says that Christ made us alive by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. These phrases were well-known to the Colossians, who heard them something like this — “that list of crimes that Rome usually nailed to the cross when a person was crucified? In the case of Jesus, that list was your credit card bill of sin.” Paul has led them through chapter two to this point — we can resist being taken captive, know we are filled in Christ, feel like we are made alive with Jesus — when we realize what He has done with who we really are.
We get stuck in our spiritual lives when we waste time repenting and fixing the wrong things. We run around a wheel, measuring ourselves by false system of righteousness, where neither failing nor succeeding gets us anywhere.
Facing our true sin leads to true repentance — and to grace and growth through the righteousness of our True Redeemer.
featured image via biblesandtea
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