This is a step toward Christless Christianity.  Unfortunately we see it in many churches, televangelists, some megachurches and in popular culture.  Sin well, isn’t popular, and the ultimate consequence of sin, hell, even less so.  I guess that is why working with high-risk kids in a juvenile detention center can be so refreshing because for the most part kids in lock up know they are sinners.  Why?  Well they know they wouldn’t be in lock-up otherwise.  I’ll run into a few that make excuses, point to their past, and their dysfunction, playing the blame game.

Now I understand that many of the kids (and adults as well) have had to deal with a lot of crap in their lives.  Unfortunately this approach by the world (and now some churches) to address dysfunction, but not sin, avoids tacking the main thing.

Here’s the thing, for most people… you feel guilty because you are guilty.  The goal shouldn’t be self-esteem, but rather recognizing our utter helplessness – our spiritual poverty, (Matthew 5:3).  Our brokenness can be addressed on what Christ did on the cross, not by gaining self-esteem.  We need Christ’s righteousness because we lack our own, (2 Corinthians 5:21).  We need His forgiveness and grace because we can’t overcome our guilt any other way, (Ephesians 2:4-10).

Michael Horton in Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church quotes Pope Benedict XVI and I think he is spot on in his concern that the world is “losing the notion of sin.”

People who trust in themselves and in their own merits are, as it were, blinded by their own “I",” and their hearts harden in sin.  On the other hand, those who recognize themselves as weak and sinful entrust themselves to God, and from him obtain grace and forgiveness.

So true.

14 comments
  1. I know our media (ie: Television shows, music and movies) loves to tread on the gray and will often tip toe(or not so much) over issues of right and wrong… all too often I see this “I needed to lie to you, because I needed to protect you” theme or others where sin is just made to not look so bad. I know that some Christians I know don't think it's bad to disobey the law ie: smoke Marijuana(especially in SoCal, but I still know those at home), steal music, steal movies(downloads of course) etc. I mean, this really hits home for me because I work in the music industry right now and it is just dying, well at least jobs are dying and even the giants are suffering but they're still holding out.

    (Here comes a rant)

    I don't understand why Christians think it's okay to steal music and movies? I confront them and they just blow me off like “Josh you just don't understand” and it really urks me. The other day a friend of ours was like “oh you haven't seen this movie? I'll burn it for you” and my wife had to say “no thanks, uh Josh is really kinda against things like that, we'll rent it” It has come to the point that some people have lost the idea that it's wrong, but in the back of their mind THEY KNOW IT'S A LAW!

  2. I think it is easy for us to rationalize our sin… we'll turn a blind eye to it, try to justify ourselves, or be nonchalant and say, “oops my bad” and go on doing what we were doing.

    I agree with you regarding music and movies. That's why I make sure our ministries either buys music outright or gets the CCLI. Personally we don't do either of those things.

  3. Oh another great one, today I ate lunch with my wife and kids at Burger King(yes not the best of places, but close to the jobsite) today and saw some construction worker trying to fill his outside mt dew bottle with burger kings coke and he just brushed it off when the manager confronted him about it. It's like uhhh stealing???

  4. Great site! Thanks for putting the Compassion widget on your site! (I volunteer for them.) Also, I want the Huckabee one on my WordPress site but when I put it on it says they removed the image….is there something special you did to get this on your site? I use wordpress.com.

  5. This one gets me right… here.

    My wife has been a counseling psychologist for years, but as she's gotten deeper into her walk, she's become mostly a non-practicing psychologist – scoring tests for a treatment center and seeing a single client. Part of the reason she's gotten out of the field was how the insurance system works – in order to get paid, you need to give the companies a diagnosis quickly – in most cases long before you may know what the most accurate diagnosis is.

    The other dominant reason is that the profession is not geared to deal with sin issues – where there is a valid mental health issue, by all means diagnose it and treat it, whether that means psychotherapy, medication, a combination of the two, or some other modality. Once the mental illness has been addressed, however, the choice to submit one's will and one's life to the care of God is back in the heart of the individual. Insurance companies won't pay for spiritual solutions – probably a good thing – but in the meantime, those who need real help don't get it, and the culture we live in perpetuates the blame game.

  6. It's gratifying to see any sort of truly Christ-centered discussion these days. Not to offend anyone, this is clearly my own, perhaps misguided opinion, but it seems to me that too often the focus these days is on Old Testament and Revelations. . .not so much on the Word, the spreading of the Gospel by Christ and the Apostles.

    As for sin? Yes, I despair at the secular watering down of the concept. At the same time, i also despair at the laser like focus which some Christians occupy most of their time and attention on only one or two 'big' sins, having to do mostly with sexuality issues, which is important, but which hardly dominated, or was at the heart of, Christ's message.

    I would like to see recognition of sin restored to its rightful scope in all of its dastardly forms; Capital 'S' Sin: selfishness, greed, hatefulness, power-grabbing at the expense of others. . .you know the list and it is long and affects all of us, not just a few subgroups, to whom it is easy to point one's finger if one considers oneself 'above' whatever sin they are committing.

    You know, the old Log/Speck argument.

    Looking at my coffee this morning. . .hmmn, quite a few specks floating around in there. . .anybody got a log I can borrow to fish them out with?? Seem to have lost mine!!!

  7. Unfortunately the watering down isn't happening just in secular society, but in the church as well.

    I guess with the focus on the OT and Revelations – that hasn't been my experience, but you are right we need the whole counsel of God.

  8. The goal shouldn’t be self-esteem, but rather recognizing our utter helplessness – our spiritual poverty,

    Exactly!

    If we don't get our helplessness, then we don't get why we need grace. If we don't see the need for grace, we don't think we need Jesus.

    Which means that we're wrong, and not open to the Truth.

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