How’s Your Sinning Working For You?
I think that’s a really good question that we rarely ask ourselves when we are thinking about our sin. I remember when I was struggling with the big obvious sins. They also had obvious consequences. In fact, the consequences were greater than the benefit of sinning. I haven’t sinned in big ways since my teens. My current sin list would most likely impress you with how real I am being about myself. But there’s something deeply sinister about that. Now I realize that I have developed a rather strong affection for my sin.
All these years that I have been serious about my faith I have had one continualthought pop up from time to time. When I read my journals from college I thinkI’m making progress, but by seminary I am asking the question, “Whyhaven’t I gotten better at this?” When I joined the staff of a liturgicalchurch I wondered if having more regular communion would do the trick. It didn’t.
So if I believe in Jesus’ power to transform me and I don’t wantto keep on sinning, why do I? Recently, I came to see that my sin is really workingfor me. I don’t let God take it away because I don’t really wantHim to have it. I like it. It works for me.
There is a part of me that would love for God to take away all my sin so thatI could be admired more than I am already. I would like to be one of those reallysinless people you read about in ancient books. I think that would be cool. Butthat in itself a sinful thought. I don’t want God to remove my sin forHis sake, but for my own. I want to think better of myself.
So here’s the dilemma. When will I get to the place that I believe in thepower of God in my life to take away my sins and really want to give my willover to Him? I’m just not really getting honest with God and myself aboutmy sin. I look over my list of confessions (which has been basically the samefor two decades now) and I ask, “Do I really want God to remove that sinfor me?” The answer I give back to myself is, “yes” and “no.” Then,I read the honest thoughts about sin from someone like Julian of Norwich whowrites, “Miserable sin, what are you? You’re nothing. I looked andsaw God in everything. And I didn’t see you then.” Julian got it.She got that sin was nothing. She saw there was nothing to gain from sin. Shegave it up for that reason. I know I have a long way to go, but I’ve gotto say I think I’m a little closer just realizing that in some ways I reallylike my sin. I like to be critical. I enjoy being frustrated with other drivers.I am getting something I think I need from talking bad about other people. Idon’t see sin as miserable and nothing.
Romans 7:18 confirms this strategy to give up sin by seeing it for what it is.
“ I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
I can’t say that I see sin as nothing yet, but I am getting closer.