Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some thoughts on the mortification of sin: Sin is serious

Colossians 3:5-7

Sin is not a trivial matter. It is deadly serious, yet our society has little grasp of the utter seriousness of sin. The tabloids and glossy celeb mags revel in the seedy shenanigans of so-called celebrities. Our political leaders seem to have lost all sense of moral seriousness. David Laws had to resign from the Government for misusing parliamentary expenses in order to hide his relationship with another man. Despite his conduct, colleagues described him as an "honourable man". After using family snapshots in his election literature, Chris Huhne recently announced that he was leaving his wife of 26 years for another woman. There was, of course no question of the duplicitous Government Minister resigning from his post.

Sinful behaviour is often explained with reference to medical or psychological factors.  Sin has been medicalized so that what once would have been regarded as bad conduct is explained or excused by reference to some or other 'syndrome'. An office worker in US sacked for being routinely late for work. But on appeal she was reinstated. Her tardiness was apparently due to a 'chronic lateness syndrome'. That's alright then!

But Paul will not allow us to trivialise or excuse sin. If we are going to mortify sin, then we need to see exactly how vile and evil it is. In the passage under consideration the apostle gets down to brass tacks. He does not content himself with a mere general statement, saying "put sin to death". He descends to particulars, Colossians 3:5. Paul was a man who called a spade a spade. He will not allow us to gloss over the utter sinfulness of sin. Many of the sins in this "vice list" have to do with sexual sin. Today people speak of unmarried couples having a “one night stand”, or a "fling", Paul calls it “fornication”. A married man will claim that he has “fallen in love” with another woman, excusing himself by saying, "it feels so good that it can't be bad". Paul calls that “passion” and “evil desire”. The apostle is not allowing us to hide behind words and phrases that try to make sin seem less evil than it is. A spade is not an "earth removing implement", but a "spade". And sin is sin. That is why we have put it do death.

Moreover, sin is serious because it attracts the wrath of God, Look at what Paul says in , Colossians 3:5-7. This is the universal testimony of Scripture, Romans 1:18, Mark 9:42-48. Sin, all sin deserves eternal punishment. Yes, God’s wrath against our sin had been propitiated in Christ, Romans 3:25. But that is what it took for God to deal lovingly with us and justly with our sin. Sin is that serious. We cannot afford to play with it. We cannot tolerate in our lives the sin that provokes God’s just wrath upon the world, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

We once lived as "sons of disobedience", walking in the way of sin, subject to God's terrible wrath. But that old life is dead and gone, 2 Corinthians 5:17. Now, rather than walking in sin we must mortify it. Sin is a killer. Kill it or it will kill you, Romans 8:13.


Ben said...

I was told this week that teachers are 'not allowed' to tell children that they are naughty; this was new to me, and I'm not sure how general or widespread this prohibition is. My own grandchild's independent nursery school teacher, I'm told, is limited to telling misbehaving children that they're making her sad; she must avoid at costs any suggestion that a child is inherently a sinner.

Well, it makes me sad that the liberal society in which we're living is so intolerant of plain speech and realism that it's prepared to distort the proper upbringing of children because it can't face its own inherent sinfulness.

Btw, you have an 'alight' in your post in place of 'allright', and have sidestepped the rule that in written English, allright is not all right.

Exiled Preacher said...

Thanks, Ben. Typo mortified.