Honest to God

This post was written by Mel Lawrenz

[This post is in a weekly devotional series called Everything New. Sign up here if you’re interested.]

The prophet Isaiah put it this way: “For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived” (Isaiah 59:12-13).

Notice the key to the lock here: acknowledge.

In one breath, the prophet lays out a glossary of sin (offense, iniquity, rebellion, treachery, oppression, revolt, lies), and he establishes that we sin in thought (what the heart conceives), word (lies), and deed (all the rest). “Thought, word, and deed” is a way of talking about the whole of our lives. It is a way of saying, “God, I need my whole life to be exposed to your healing touch. I need to be honest about my transgressions that are overt acts, those that are careless words, and those that are imaginings which spring from secret motives.”

We can be thankful that sin, in its essence, is the negation of what is good. It is the “-less” or the “un-” of the created order: lovelessness, lawlessness, godlessness, unbelief, thanklessness, disobedience, faithlessness–in other words, darkness. Why be thankful about that? Because sin has no existence in and of itself. Go into a dark room, turn on a light, and the darkness disappears. “The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).

I’ve met many people who feel utterly hopeless about their faults and transgressions. They feel terrible that they keep disappointing God, and they wonder whether anything will ever be different. And this is key: they view their mistakes as an essential part of who they are rather than a good gone wrong.

Sin must be taken seriously. This disconnect from God is the universal condition of the human race, as Scripture makes abundantly clear: “There is no one who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46); “No one living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143:2); “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’?” (Proverbs 20:9); “the whole world is a prisoner of sin” (Galatians 3:22); “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:2); “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

But, on the other hand, we must keep remembering that mankind was made “in the image of God.” Good. More than that, very good.

We must be honest about our failings and our sins–otherwise we will never find forgiveness and healing. But no one should ever think his or her essential identity is darkness. Christ is the light, and he wants to shine in our lives. [More on that, next time.]

What do you think?

What do I think? I’m working my way, slowly these days, through the Twelve Steps of A.A, which essentially is a guide towards a better life, and this post today really helped clarify what it is I’m trying to do with Step 4,

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

It is only by taking a really hard look at myself, and bringing forth every defect of character that I possess, that I can make lasting changes to improve myself and the way I life my life.

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