Escaping the State of Sin

Sinning -- everyone does it. That is why God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins and provide a way that we can repent and become free of our sins. So why do some people find it so hard to accept their choices are sins? There are lies now accepted as truth, all designed to prevent people from repenting. While I knew this was the case, I didn’t realize how much it permeated the culture until I read an advice column about dealing with people who sin in a specific way. The first paragraph is as follows, (I’ve edited it, because when you fill in the type of sin, people suddenly lose all objectivity and treat the sins differently… as if one sin was preferable or better than another.)

“A person’s ___ isn’t a “lifestyle choice.” ____ people don’t choose to be ___; they are born that way. They can’t change being ____ any more than you can change being ____.”

You could fill in the blanks with all types of sins (gambling, alcoholism, drug addiction, theft, sexual deviancy, violence, etc…) and the basic premise remains the same. There is a lot to unpack, so I’m going to dissect this. 

“A person’s ___ isn’t a lifestyle choice.” Yes, it is. The activities you do are your choice. No one can make you act in any way. Everything you choose to do is your choice. Lifestyle, which is how you chose to live your life, is definitely a choice. To deny this is to deny accountability for yourself. It is also very unhealthy to build your entire identity and social life around how you prefer to sin. It is worshiping your sin, which will eventually only bring pain and sadness. It also sets you up for sin. If the most important thing you identify about yourself is how you sin, you’re going to sin a lot more than you would otherwise. It is much better to build your identity on being a child of God and seeking His love.

“___ people don’t choose to be ____.” Yes, they do. Everyone moderates their behavior and how they comport themselves around others. Research shows that mannerisms associated with certain sinful lifestyles can be turned off and on depending on the crowd the sinner is associating with. Having taught a youth Sunday school classes full of children who had no impulse control, excusing their outbursts, saying, “I have ADHD, I can’t help it.” Once they learned the truth, that they control what they do, they eventually learned impulse control and the disruptions stopped. If children with diagnosed mental illnesses can learn to moderate themselves, anyone can, even sinners.

“They are born that way.” As much as I’d love to say this is blatantly false, it is not. God has made every one of us, with our own salvation in mind. He creates each of us with our own weakness, whatever it may be, but He gave us that weakness so that we would have to come to Christ, the only source of salvation. The New Testament is full of accounts where people come to Christ to be healed. In one case, Christ’s apostles asked, “when someone is born blind, who sinned? The parents or the child?” Christ answered, “He was born blind to glorify God.” Then Christ healed the blind man. If the man had been born whole, Christ could not have taught that disability is not a punishment for sin. While many of the miraculous healings found in the New Testament are related to disease, millions of people have experienced the miraculous healing of becoming free of the temptations that plague them, or being strengthened to the point that they don’t give in to their temptations anymore. God made us each with a weakness or a temptation that will follow us around throughout life to encourage us to come to Christ. 

“They can’t change being ____ any more than you can change being ____.” This is also true. Anyone that has been in a twelve-step program will learn this in step 1. “Admit you are powerless over your addiction and that your life has become unmanageable.” The most important part of overcoming sin is admitting that you can’t change on your own. It is incredibly important to accept this fact and to learn to stop judging yourself when you sin. But that isn’t the end of the journey to healing. Step 2 is “Come to believe that a power stronger than you can heal you.” You have probably gathered that the higher power that helped me was Jesus Christ. Whenever modern society talks about sins, they never talk about getting away from it, but simply your helplessness to get away from it. Yes, we can’t get away from sin on our own. That is why God sent Jesus Christ. Christ can change us. He can change our nature. He can make it so you don’t have to live in sin. He can fix the problem. You can’t.

Modern society tries to excuse sinful behavior by telling us that people can’t control themselves, because it is in their nature, and because it is in their nature, then they can’t be held accountable for their sins and therefore they do not need to repent. 

This is a pernicious lie, created to drag men’s souls down to the same pit of misery and wo that our adversary inhabits. It uses truth to support a bad conclusion.

With all this in mind, how should we handle the sinners we know. #1) Don’t judge them. We all make mistakes, there is no use being self-righteous because your sins are different than theirs. Also, quit judging yourself. Accept that you are imperfect, and that God made you that way so that Christ can perfect you. If you must judge yourself, it should only be to the point of, “that was a sin, I need to repent.” Then go repent. #2) Treat them with kindness, yes, this includes yourself. #3) Don’t enable sinful behavior. Advocating to make sins socially acceptable or legal is going to ruin many, many lives. Don’t bail people out of the consequences of their bad decisions. #4) Protect the innocent. This means if you know someone’s sins are harming another person, especially a child, it needs to be reported to authorities. If you know the individual will cause harm to someone at a social gathering, do not invite them. If the person does not have a known history of harming others, then you have no reason not to invite them. #5) Invite them to repent, but don’t be overbearing about it. If they decline or reject your invitation, that is their choice, it shouldn’t change how you treat them.

As much as I would love for the world to stop accepting these lies, I know it won't. People enjoy sinning, and these lies tell them it is acceptable to sin. I can expose these lies with the truth and hope the people who need this will read it and have a positive impact on their lives.

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