Friday, February 6, 2009

Irrational Sin

Human beings in their fallen condition have a love relationship with their sin. Jesus said, "Men love darkness rather than light" (John 3:19). People continue their rebellious behavior in spite of the consequences, and there are consequences, both temporal and eternal. Philosophically, all sin is irrational; yet, we blindly continue our pathway to destruction unless God rescues us through the Gospel.

Sometimes, we see the irrational nature of sin displayed vividly. During the 2008 Olympics swimmer Michael Phelps won an incredible eight gold medals. At 23 years of age he had the world in his hand. Sponsors were lining up at his door offering lucrative contracts worth millions if he would endorse their products. It was an opportunity most people could only dream of. Last week a photo was released of Mr. Phelps smoking marijuana at a party. What! I couldn't believe it. What foolishness. I had to remind myself, however, that all sin is just as foolish, just as irrational, and we've all filled our cups full of such irrational behavior. And all sin carries its own consequences.

Already the consequences for Mr. Phelps are coming to light. Cereal manufacturer Kelloggs has dropped its endorsement deal with Phelps stating that his behavior is "inconsistent with the image of Kellogg." Phelps may recover from this scandal in time, but he still has to stand before God. His only hope, the hope of all men, is true repentance and a full resting upon the atonement of Christ.

Sadly, Michael Phelps is demonstrating the attitude most people have concerning their sin. They enjoy the pleasures of their sin and when exposed they make whatever excuses they deem necessary to acquit them. In response to his sin coming to light Phelps issued a statement, "I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again." While it is commendable he did not deny his behavior and offered an apology he did not accept full responsibility. True repentance is to have the heart of David, "I have sinned against the LORD." David did not try to offer excuses to justify his actions. There was nothing that could justify his sinful behavior. Notice carefully the words of Phelps. "I am 23 years old . . . I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way." In other words, he shouldn't really be held accountable because, after all, he is only 23 years old. Because he is young he doesn't feel he should be held to full accountability for his actions; that we should hold a 23 year old to a different standard. This isn't true repentance.

Sin is irrational. A failure to repent is pure lunacy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The prophet Nathan came to David the king. Nathan told him about a man who had been blessed by God with more than he deserved. However, this rich man was covetous, and he took a fancy to something that God had given to a poor man. Even though the poor man valued the thing dearly, the rich man stole it from him.

David was furious. He wanted the rich man to be punished with the loss of his very life. That was when Nathan revealed that the Lord knew David had committed a sin like the rich man’s, but to an even worse degree.

The anger drained from David. It was replaced by shame, and he admitted his sin and earnestly sought God’s forgiveness. (II Samuel 12:1-13)

David realized that he needed cleansing from sin, but even more than that, he needed to remove the cause of the sin. Otherwise, it would only be repeated. Therefore, he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

Who alone can “create?” Who can make something out of nothing? Who can bring into existence a thing which never before existed? Only God. David needed more than a repaired or improved heart. He needed a whole new heart. Furthermore, he needed a “right spirit.” Christian preachers have a saying whereby they encourage people to “get right” with God. Despite the dubious grammar in this expression, it correctly captures the idea of David’s plea. Grievous sin has grievous consequences, but for those who come to God by faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross, the Lord will create a new heart, a right spirit, forgiveness for past sins, and the victory over repeated sin.