Tag Archives: sin

Experiencing the Black and White

black and white

I recently wrote a post about 50 Shades of Grey (you know, like 5156872154 other bloggers. Between that and my American Sniper post, well, you’re welcome, movie industry).  I wrote about the things I wished people would do before seeing the movie, hopefully giving rise to some serious consideration on the part of the reader to avoid the movie (and the books) altogether.

I read a lot of posts similar to mine, asking women in particular to stay away from the movie.

And I read a lot of posts on the opposing side, stating that it was just “love story” and those of us avoiding the movie just needed to get over it and accept it.

And one theme seemed to ring true throughout several of the posts I read that supported the 50 Shades franchise– that my “religion” hindered me from making sound judgement of the whole ordeal.

In fact, it was even suggested that “religious” people were incapable of making sound judgement against the 50 Shades franchise because we hadn’t experienced it.

In essence, the world is not black and white, but instead several shades of grey…maybe more than 50.

From these bloggers I read that if I want to truly understand the people around me, I have to make myself willing to experience and test everything in order to be able to accurately identify the black and the white and all shades of grey in between– in order to be able to identify the harmful from the harmless.

I have to experience sin in order to be able to identify it.

In order to know that the 50 Shades books are filth that will destroy relationships and a morally-based view of sex and love, I need to read them.

Let’s apply that logic to other things.

In order to know that an affair would destroy my marriage, do I need to have one?

In order to know that stealing isn’t okay, should I take what isn’t mine?

In order to know that abusing my children will hurt them, do I need to hit them?

In order to know that murder is wrong, should I kill someone?

It would appear that based on this logic, it’s the outcome of the action that decides whether or not the action is morally reprehensible.

See, people like me, the “religious” types, believe that it’s the heart motivation to commit the action, not the outcome, that labels whether or not the thing is sin.

Sin is a word that most people don’t like nowadays. We live in a world based off of instant gratification and the idea that we must do whatever makes us happy–we want to feel good all the time. It’s all about how we feel. And we want to feel good All. The. Time. We want to do whatever it takes to make us happy, even if that means what we’re doing might be harmful in the long run, or even the short term.

As long as it makes us feel good. Sex. Drugs. Abortion. Taking what isn’t ours. Demanding what we don’t deserve. Hurting others as long as we’re not hurting ourselves. The list goes on and on.

Here’s the thing, friends– I can recognize sin by the motivation behind it. The motivation behind 50 Shades of Grey is nothing more than lust. It’s not a love story; it’s a lust story. I don’t need to read it to know that.

The root of all of this sin is simple: pride. We believe we’re better than we are. We believe that we can live outside of the black and white–somewhere in those shades of grey.

But this world IS black and white.

We’re stained, dirty, dark; covered in the muck of this world. Myself included. I’m no better than anyone else, whether I consider myself “religious” or not. Although I try daily to emulate my Christ, I’m not perfect and I never will be.

He, on the other hand, is perfection in radiant white, spotless, blameless–wholly complete and unchanging– and without pride.

The world in its broken state is the darkness, while He, the Savior of the world, is the Light.

No matter how good we try to be, no matter how much we want to think we are better than someone or something else, no matter how much we excuse our lifestyles or choices, no matter how many nice things we do, nothing we do will ever be good enough.

And that’s where the beauty of His cleansing grace comes in.

snowHe washed away all of our stains with his blood– he cleaned all the black and all of the shades of grey. He made us white as snow through his sacrifice. Praise Him and hallelujah!

The only thing we need to experience is the beauty of his mercy and grace– the only thing we need to accept is the forgiveness of our sins. 

We don’t have to experience sin in order to know it’s wrong. But we do need to experience Christ– and when we do, we’ll know just how right he is.

This is my prayer for you today, friends: that you will experience him and find that living in His light is so much more fulfilling than any shade of darkness could ever be.

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Luther’s Order– Make a Choice


Sin is a concept which has often held me captive.

I struggle with the fact that although I am saved through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, I can’t break free of the grip of sin.

Shouldn’t I be able to resist temptation? Shouldn’t I be able to choose right over wrong every.single.time? Shouldn’t I be able to take the following verses, hide them in my heart, and always, always follow the “way out”?

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. I Corinthians 10:13

How many times will God forgive me? Won’t he eventually get tired of my sin? Will he be so disappointed with His child that he will turn away from me? Will I ever be good enough for his grace? How can I look myself in the mirror and not see a dirty, sinful, waste of skin? Is that what God sees when He looks at me?

My favorite historical theologian, Martin Luther, also struggled with the concept of sin.

As a monk, he struggled with the same notion that I struggle with– that although we know better and strive to make the right choices for God, we fail.

As a failure to the flesh, Luther looked for every possible way to “work” himself free of the burden of sin. He followed every sacrament of the Church (he was a Catholic monk, after all) and attempted to submit to every requirement of grace that the Church presented. He even admitted to extreme fear of and anger at God, in whom he saw no possible way to achieve redemption. After all, to Luther, God judged all from a throne of righteousness that was so far out of the reach of humankind that nothing could save us except mercy, which the God he understood may or may not give.

It wasn’t until a fellow monk encouraged Luther to read the New Testament for himself that Luther discovered the path to freedom.

Within the New Testament, Luther found freedom in the blood of Christ. He realized that nothing, nothing, NOTHING else can free us from the bondage of sin except a belief that the Lamb of God was sacrificed on our behalf.

 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17

Luther discovered the truth that would underlie everything else that he would do, including taking on the Catholic Church for the incredible amount of hypocrisy and faithlessness he saw there– sparking the Protestant Reformation.

What Luther discovered is a simple truth– that nothing we DO can achieve grace. Nothing we DO can put us before a righteous God who will forgive. Nothing we DO will ever be good enough.

It’s all about justification by faith alone– that faith in the sacrifice of the Son is what provides our righteousness, our redemption, and grace from the God who sent his son to be tortured and die with the sin of the world on him.

When I sin, I fall short of the glory. When I sin, I separate myself from the holiness of God, yet Christ took my sin and freely justified me. All I have to do is believe it.

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22-24

When I feel unworthy, when I want to DO something to prove to God that I am truly sorry and want to turn from my sin, I have to remember that God already DID it for me.

I am free in Him through his son’s death on the cross. When he looks at me, he sees a child redeemed.

Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want. –Martin Luther

Share with me: What is the hardest part of being a Christian to you? What theological or Biblical ideas do you struggle with?

**If you’ve never seen the movie Luther starring Joseph Fiennes, I highly recommend it.

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Prone To Wander

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year, mostly because I rarely keep them. But more than making a resolution, I decided to make a perspective change.

I’m changing my perspective on the way I live each minute. Following the prodding I first received when I began reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, I’ve decided to live in God’s presence at all times.

This is a constant thing–to live each moment in the presence of my Lord.

I’ll tell you what it’s done for me so far–it’s convicted me over the sinfulness in my life.

I struggle with sinfulness.

I think I’m in pretty good company with this. Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, struggled with his own sinfulness. It was the notion that he could never work hard enough or self-flagellate enough to be worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s that idea–the need for grace–that pushed him to dig deeper within the scriptures to eventually challenge the Catholic church on the idea of justification by faith.

Now that I’ve given you a mini history lesson, let me get back to my point.

No matter what I do, I’ll never be able to completely eradicate sin in my life. There was only One who never sinned, and clearly, I’m not Him.

I could use the excuse that sin is inherent–I can’t avoid it.

Someone who questions the existence of original sin has never spent any time around a toddler. You don’t have to teach a toddler how to pitch a fit or disobey, or how to sneak a cookie, or throw something at a sibling. You don’t have to teach a toddler how to use anger and manipulation to try to get what they want, nor do you have to teach them those ugly little looks they sometimes give. They are born knowing how to do these things, and will employ them, to the best of their abilities, unless someone teaches them otherwise.

But I can’t use original sin as my excuse, at least not all the time.

Maybe I can get away with it for those knee-jerk reaction sins. The anger I have when someone says something rude. Or the jealousy that floods me when someone gets something I want. Maybe I can blame my inherent will to sin for these.

But what about the sins that I choose? Yes, choose. I know better, yet sometimes I choose to sin. I choose to disobey what I know to be right. I choose to ignore the voice of God, even when I’ve asked him to speak to me. I choose to sin.

And it’s a choice that separates me from the blessings of my God, from the joy of living daily in His presence.

Come Thou Fount is one of my favorite hymns. There’s one phrase in that song that speaks to me so loudly, I almost feel as if it was written just for me.

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.

This phrase is more than just a verse in a song to me. It’s a prayer. I’m asking God to seal my heart as I live in his presence– to tune my heart to sing his grace so that there’s no cause to sing anything else.

I can’t destroy the sin in my life–that will be done someday when evil is vanquished. I’ll never be perfect. But I can refocus my life so that my knee-jerk reactions are glorifying to God and my choices become clear benefits to the Kingdom of Heaven.

And daily I will remain immensely grateful for forgiveness and redemption as I trod the road of disciple.

Applying the concept of living moment by moment in God’s presence has already made me less prone to wander.

Share with me: How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions so far? How many did you make? How many have you kept and how many have you ditched already?


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