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“You came across really rude.”
My husband called out a sin in my life and I immediately felt the walls rising around my heart. After hearing my rude and sarcastic response to a friend’s genuine question, my husband graciously encouraged me to consider my answer.
I immediately denied any wrongdoing. After realizing that maybe my answer was slightly inappropriate, I became defensive. Excuse after excuse flew from my lips before…silence.
I found myself left with no more excuses and faced with my ugly sin. The Holy Spirit used my husband’s words like a mirror, showing me the state of my heart. I did not like what I saw, but I still took no action. I ignored my sin.
Over the next two days, God softened my heart. As I considered the weight of my sin, I reached out to the friend for forgiveness.
The Problem of Sin
I found this incident timely, as I’ve been thinking recently about our proper response to sin. While reading the book of Jonah with friends, the description of Nineveh’s king mourning sin as he “covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes,”(Jonah 3:6) prompted me to wonder if my response is also characterized by the same degree of lament.
Using Romans 1-3, John Piper defines sin as “any feeling or thought or speech or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all other things.”
As one who was once dead in my sins and following my own passions and desires (Ephesians 2:1-3), I am now “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11). Despite my freedom from sin and right standing before God, I still find myself struggling. I don’t thank God for all things, I fail to acknowledge sin around me, and I’m frequently unable to do what I know is right (Romans 7:18-20). Although Christ’s work has set me free, my sinful, physical body constantly fails (Romans 7:22-23).
My heart cries the same words as Paul, “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24b-25a).
Praise be to God for Easter! Yet, after recognizing my sin I find myself missing a step. After realizing what I did was wrong, I immediately presume upon grace.
I don’t want to feel the weight of my sin. I don’t want to know the depths of the grief God feels when I do not acknowledge Him as sovereign Lord of my life.
Mourning sin is uncomfortable, but not experiencing sorrow for my sin shows that my so-called repentance was nothing more than an earthly guilt. Being upset you got caught in sin is not the same as mourning your transgressions against your Holy Creator.
Sin is not an inconvenience, but something we should weep over.
I’ve been working through a nine-week devotional about the beatitudes by Kay Arthur (Lord, Only You Can Change Me). She points readers to Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians where Paul states that his first letter caused the Corinthians grief which he doesn’t regret. Why? Because their grief led to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Kay Arthur comments,
“Godly sorrow causes us to run to the arms of God, weeping, confessing our sin. And He meets us in that moment, just as He has promised.”
Weep over your sin in the arms of Jesus. Weep over the sins of your children, family, church, nation, and the world. May the things that hurt God hurt you.
And, when you find yourself sinning yet again, may the Holy Spirit convict you, cutting you to the heart (Acts 2:37). Mourning sin doesn’t mean you have to live in worry, wondering if God will continue to love you, because “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4). Weep, repent, and find comfort in the grace of God.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16