There are few concepts more out of style today than the concept of sin. Biblically, sin is any disobedience (passive or active) of the commands of the sovereign, holy God. When you reject the notion of a sovereign, holy God (which much of our culture does today), the concept of sin becomes irrelevant at best, and dangerous in the eyes of many. It is viewed as a vestige of a more primitive time that was used to provide common people with a framework to understand problems, pain and suffering, and a tool to help control the masses.
In our more “enlightened” age, the concept of a creating, sovereign God has been rejected for a scientific, man centered view of existence. Thus, sin as an offense against God has also been rejected. Instead, sin is considered an obsolete guilt trip that gets in the way of men and women reaching their fullest potential. The concept of evil has been redefined as anti-social behavior that is remedied by education and rehabilitation.
Sadly, this societal shift has also affected the church. Sin is rarely taken seriously. Research done by one of our nation’s polling groups has concluded that “there is no significant difference in ethical behavior between churched and unchurched citizens of America.” In other words, our beliefs regarding God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness has done little to affect how those who claim to be Christian’s live. The lack of church discipline is evidence of this. Historically considered to be one of the marks of a true church, rarely is personal sin addressed within the body of Christ, even scandalous sin.
James 1 has been talking about the Christian’s response to suffering. It is critical to realize that suffering does not just come from outside sources, but it is often the result of our own sinful choices. In James 1:13-18, James speaks to us about the reality of sin, the consequences of sin, and our hope in the midst of sin. I know that sin is not a popular subject and that it is not something we like to think about. But the truth is, we cannot understand and embrace grace if we do not have a clear understanding of the reality and depth of our sin. We all have sins we wrestle with, and some that we harbor and nurture. Please read Sunday’s passage carefully and boldly ask God to open your eyes to the presence and danger of sin in your life, and for the Spirit’s power to overcome them.