The Evangelical Problem With Sin
It only happened once in my life. But it happened. I threw away a Bible. Just moments earlier, I had been wearing rubber gloves, a surgical mask and a hospital gown. When the very sick and very contagious patient asked to flip through my Bible, I let him. We had a great time together, discussing our Lord and savior. As I prepared to leave the room, he did the unexpected. He gave me back the Bible. Talk about being in a bind. When I looked at that Bible all I could see was germs, sickness, and my impending death. So…as I prepared to leave, I quietly placed the Bible into the toxic bin with my gloves and all. There was no way, I was going to risk death. Sadly though, we evangelicals are far more flippant about our spiritual health.
This weekend, Deadpool grossed $55 million dollars. Risen grossed 11.8 million. As Dr. Albert Mohler recently noted, Deadpool can only be such a big success (grossing over 296 million over the last few weeks) because church goers are being entertained by the very sins they supposedly denounce. And this past Saturday, 1/3 of the evangelicals in South Carolina supported a presidential candidate who regularly contradicts the scriptures in both lifestyle and policy. So while we give Jesus a nod on Sunday, we Christians are increasingly going against him on Monday – Saturday. We are increasingly ok with sin if it promises entertainment, wealth, or security. We are increasingly comfortable with death.
I think we find ourselves willing to risk spiritual death because we don’t really believe that sin is all that bad. Sure, It’s an annoyance; it’s a distraction; perhaps, it’s even a stinging paper cut. But it’s not deadly; it’s not something we need to put on masks and gloves to encounter. We excuse sin as an enjoyable albeit slightly tainted endeavor that brings minimal harm. And sure, we will try to improve upon our vices at some point. But until then, we are content to watch the sexual explicit movies on Saturday before worshiping Jesus on Sundays. After all it’s the secular culture that’s destroying America. We are not as bad as them.
The solution? We need view our sin as death. Yes, God is concerned about divorce and homosexuality. But, He is equally concerned with our secret sins whether they be pornography, pride, racism, stealing, etc. To be a friend of the world (even a secret one) means you are an enemy of God.
In Mark 1:40, Jesus encounters a leper, a man who has been kicked out of his family and community because he is physically beyond help. He is also highly contagious. In short, he is unclean. To encounter him, one risks becoming unclean. One risks physical death.
Friends, this is us. We are not Jesus. We are the leper. Our sin in not little, insignificant, or minor. Our sin destroys our lives, families, and communities. As Romans 8:13 say, if “you live according to the flesh you will die.” Don’t miss this. If left unchecked, our sins will kill us. Instead of entertaining them, we need to flee from it, screaming.
But we can’t. We are already infected with the deadly virus. We can’t make ourselves clean. And that latest five step program or legalistic rubric won’t do the trick. At the end of the day, we are all lepers incapable of healing ourselves.
We have to call out to Jesus. The leper did just this. He asked Jesus to take away his uncleanness. And, Jesus did. He touched the leper. Instantly, the man was made clean. The way we overcome sin is to call out to Jesus for salvation. And when Jesus saves us he makes us eternally clean; we are justified. He cleanses us from all sin.
But we are not yet perfected. We still struggle with sin. Every day, we need to continue to cry out to Jesus. We need to continually remember that all sin, even the whitest white lie brings death. We need to daily stand out the foot of the cross.
To be a holy people all seven days of the week, we have to understand sin. We have to get just how bad we are. Only then, we will see the need to depend daily upon our great God.