Christian Ideals and the Reality of Sin

I like to look at situation and, no matter how rough, consider what would be ideal. I think that’s important.  In circles with friends or family I have convincingly argued for The Ideal and then stood there as someone asks “That’s awesome; how do we get there?” only to shake my head and respond “I don’t know.” Now the fact is that I do know that the impending ideal of a dawning future reality will establish a system that we, of our own power, can’t possibly implement. But people don’t get that so I want to talk about why that’s important.

Sin, like the words naughty or bastard, is a fallen word, bereft of her previous glory, power and horror. When used it invokes images of chocolate, forbidden (and really fun) sex, or scandal—while the notion of the abject depravity of sin remains immaculately untouched; virginal in comparison.

A definition of sin begins to be found in the falling short of doing good: the person who knows to do good and doesn’t is sinning (James 4:17); the person who acts apart from conscience and faith in God is sinning (Rom 14:23); being unrighteous, not-upright, is sin (1 John 5:17). It only starts with the falling short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23)

But it progress from there. Sin is what happens when personal desire acts (Jas 1:15 it is contrived in the mind and intent (Gen 8:21); it spews out of the heart (Matt 15:19); it is evidenced in action (Rom 1); it is ultimately defiling (Prov 30:12) and an outright rebellion against God (Psalm 50-51).

And lest we think that sin is about Them and surely not about Us (Me and all Christians included) we discover that no person, except Christ (2Co 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26; 1Jo 3:5) is without sin (1Ki 8:46; Ec 7:20); all are under the system of sin (Gal 3:22); all people are shaped in sin (Ps 51:5); all people are born in sin (Ge 5:3; Job 15:14; 25:4; Ps 51:5); no man can cleanse himself from sin (Job 9:30,31; Pr 20:9; Jer 2:22); and no man can atone for sin (Mic 6:7). We. Are. Sinners.

It is part of reality until God decides to realize that dawning future (1 Cor 15). We can’t, of our own, do anything to get rid of it. Want to know if sin is still around? Check the graveyard because that is the ultimate end of all sin (Gen 2:17, Eze 18:4, Ro 6:23). Sin is here until God says enough.

Now the reason I draw that tight circle is to show that no matter what program we people implement, no matter what governmental solution that we come up with, no matter what level of education we enforce, no matter what religions we absolve (or create), no matter how much resources (money, food, information, help, staff) we throw at any given problem the biggest problem is that sinful people (that’s me, that’s you, that’s them) are involved. All we do is under the system of sin. Sure we do good (Acts 10 for an example) and it is really good; but if we hold up our goods before God we find that we just aren’t up to snuff; he does infinitely better.

This isn’t to say that we’re to give up but it is to say that as flawed and rebellious creatures we will mess things up and, often, skewing things in our favor (our God isn’t stuff; it’s Us). Democracy sounds great in theory but sinful people will screw it up; Socialism sounds effective in principle but sinful people will mess that up too; Nationalism isn’t that bad until sinful people get involved: we are our own worst enemies.

That’s the theological part, but here I’ll make a connection to my series on immigration even though I will likely refer to this post in other topics that I deal with (like matters of voting, or government bills, or peace contracts, etc.).

I’ve made a point of pointing out problems with the whole immigration issue and I subsequently drew various principles (both positive and negative) from Scripture that I think have some bearing on the issue. But even these principles can be (and will be) perverted by the current reality of sin in people. Moreso when this reality is implemented at the governmental level which is amoral by its nature. These ideas have to touch more than policy but should be a matter of how we as people, and especially Christians who are being molded in the image of the New Man, are to act.

So I move forward with hope, and expectation based on my conscience, but doing so with the knowledge that we will mess things up (people can’t help it); but that brings me back to the Gospel. The fact is that we have messed things up but God has taken it upon Himself to renew all things. I think here I can safely go back to a point I made in an earlier post about how we Christians should vote—but here I’ll apply it to illegal immigration or health reform or anything else. The hope and goal of any given situation isn’t these policies or laws or way of running government: these hopes are ultimately temporary and flawed. My hope is in Christ and the Gospel of God, which ensures a final victory over sin, but currently I am working with the knowledge that God has me (us) where He wants me to be.

And I think that’s infinitely important.

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