No Spin on Sin

Speaking the biblical language requires thinking in biblical terms. We mustn’t spin sin

One such area where it is crucial to spot and deal with spin is how we talk and think about sin. Sometimes we think and speak of sin in relativized terms. For example, we may speak of our bad attitudes, selfishness or anger as personal defects that are expected and even accepted. We spin sin by saying or thinking things like, “I am a sinner” or “I’m not perfect” or “I know I really should do (fill in the blank)…” These are all true but they are often relativized and therefore declawed. And, to make matters worse, when we do say things like this often our Christian brothers and sisters affirm us with nods. The danger of this is it produces a culture where sin is not really a big deal.

 

Over the last two decades news commentators like Bill O’Reilly have reminded us of the danger of media spin. Shows like The O’Reilly Factor boast that they provide fair and balanced coverage that do not engage in the spin. Whatever you think of O’Reilly the tendency for spin is not simply a media problem–it pervades every area of our lives.

One such area where it is crucial to spot and deal with spin is how we talk and think about sin. Sometimes we think and speak of sin in relativized terms. For example, we may speak of our bad attitudes, selfishness or anger as personal defects that are expected and even accepted. We spin sin by saying or thinking things like, “I am a sinner” or “I’m not perfect” or “I know I really should do (fill in the blank)…” These are all true but they are often relativized and therefore declawed.  And, to make matters worse, when we do say things like this often our Christian brothers and sisters affirm us with nods.

The danger of this is it produces a culture where sin is not really a big deal. It’s just a necessary part of life that we need to deal with. Like a man with a limp we just keep moving along with our spiritual handicap.

This causes (at least) two immediate problems:

We become indifferent to the stench of sin

Most times our sinful actions stem from sinful thoughts and sinful evaluations. Notice the flow:

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. (James 3:14, 15)

Jesus also called out bad thinking and fastened the demonic brand to it:

And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:22, 23)

Thoughts are never stagnant nor innocent. They grow and mature, developing into sinful actions. We have to remember that wrong thinking leads to wrong living. Jesus and James may seem harsh or even a bit overboard here but they’re biblical. In fact, when we slide out of the biblical balance of thinking about sin then we find ourselves sliding into a comfortable ambivalence towards it. I remember my first trip to a farm. The smell was ripe with country air. It nearly singed my nose hairs. I’m not ashamed to admit I gagged. But you know what happened after I spent a couple of days on the farm? I was out walking with my wife and playing with my kids. I was oblivious to the canopy of organic air that enveloped us. I got used to it. Over time we become indifferent to sin. The stench of it no longer burns our nostrils. We may be tempted to think that it’s not a big deal, it’s just part of life. Jesus attributes this type of thinking to the Devil. I’m doubtful we’d be comfortable with Satan riding shotgun in our cars or sitting down at our dinner table. How much more calling the plays in the huddle of our minds?

We disregard the valuable work of the Spirit

When we have reclined into ambivalence then we have essentially waved the white flag of defeat.

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