Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Failing to Glorify God in Our Fight Against Sin

This might seem like an odd concept, but it is entirely possible to hijack God's glory in our "fight" against sin.  I stumbled upon this thought by the Puritan Thomas Brooks in his book Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices.  There, Brooks spoke about the different ways in which the saved and the unsaved struggle against sin.  
"A saint conflicts against sin universally, the least as well as the greatest; the most profitable and the most pleasing sin, as well as against those that are less pleasing and profitable.  He will combat with all, though he cannot conquer one as he should, and as he would.  He knows that all sin strikes at God's glory, as well as at his soul's comfort and peace...Oh! but now the conflict that is in the wicked is partial; they frown upon one sin and smile upon another; they strike at some sins yet stroke others; they thrust some out of doors but keep others close in their bosoms; as you may see in Jehu, Herod, Judas, Simon Magus, and Demas.  Wicked men strike at gross sins, such as are not only against the law of God, but against the laws of nature and nations, but make nothing of less sins; as vain thoughts, idle words, sinful motions, and petty oaths.  They fight against those sins that fight against their honor, profits, and pleasures, but make truce with those that are as right hands and as right eyes to them."
The difference between these two approaches to sin can be discovered in how each party defines sin.  The world defines sin (if it does at all) in a very man-centered way.  Sin is inhibiting some one else's choice, or doing something that causes shame, or judgment or pain to another human being.  But that is to miss what God says about sin.  "For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they because futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:21) God does not define sin merely as a particular action, such as lying, stealing, or adultery.  Those are the fruit of sin.  Not the root of sin.  The root of sin goes much deeper than the sound wave that carries a lie or the hand that conceals it's theft. The root of sin goes deeper than homosexuality considered in itself, or socialism considered in itself, or failing to show mercy considered in itself.   

The root of sin is this: failing to value God above all other things. 

Sin is always a God-ward directed thing.  The reason why the unsaved fail to glorify God in avoiding sin, is because they do only in reference to themselves. They are not doing it because God is their highest treasure.  They are doing it because they want to avoid the pain that that sin will bring.  God has attached certain consequences to certain sins, and these consequences are what deter the wicked, not the glory of God.   Thomas Brooks continues to lay out the motivations behind the saint and the sinner:
"The conflict that is in a saint, against sin, is maintained by several arguments: by arguments drawn from the love of God, the honor of God, the sweetness and communion with God...from the blood of Christ, the glory of Christ, the eye of Christ, the kisses of Christ, and the intercession of Christ...from the earnest of the Spirit, the seal of the Spirit, the witness of the Spirit, the comforts of the Spirit.  Oh! but the conflict that is in wicked men is from low, carnal, and legal arguments, drawn form the eye, ear, or hand of the creature, or drawn from shame, hell, and curses of the law"
God is not aiming at the mere absence of sin in our lives.  He's aiming at His glory in how we fight sin. Not merely the absence of pain, or the avoiding of unpleasant consequences.  That is to gut the glory out of sin fighting.  God wants us to be motivated because of the love of His Fatherly heart, the sacrifice of His precious Son, and the grace of His indwelling Spirit.  He wants us to fight sin, because we value Him more than we value our sin.  
Now don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that God in His wisdom restrains evil men even through their wrong motivations.  But let us not fail to grasp the application aimed at our own hearts.  Why do we fight against sin?  Is it so that others won't think poorly of us?  Is it because we know we will feel guilty?  Or is it because we are are so compelled by the love of God, that we don't want to dishonor His grace?  In the former we maybe avoiding the sin, but we are also missing the glory.  In the later, we are avoiding the sin, and displaying the greatness of our God. 

No comments:

Post a Comment