Sin stinks. Like old-hermit-extreme-hoarder-cat-lady- house stink. You know what I am talking about. You walk through the door and you are just overwhelmed with this wave of trash, rotten food and cat spray ammonia.
Perhaps you have seen the TV show “Hoarders” when friends or family members enter into such a home for the first time in years. The outsiders response? Shock, tears, anger, gagging, wretching. But what I find interesting is the response of the actual homeowner. Often times they are genuinely confused at others response to their living situation. They have become so accustomed to their wretched living situation that they stopped seeing what was there. There came a point in time where they stopped smelling the rancid odor. Where another’s response was violent repulsion, they just didn’t see what the big deal was.
And at times, this can also be a fairly accurate description of us in our response to sin. Attitudes and behaviors which can at first cause us such repulsion, eventually become unnoticed and commonplace.
God’s Word basically presents us with two ways of dealing with sin. There is a man-centered (anthropocentric) approach, and a God-centered (theocentric) approach. Here’s what it looks like at the ground level.
In a man-centered approach to dealing with sin, the primary focus is on the sin itself and our response to it. This can actually take several forms.
We deny our sin.
First, we deny our sin. “I didn’t do it. There’s not a problem. I don’t know why you are bothered. It’s really not that big of a deal.” And if nothing is wrong, then we don’t need forgiveness. We have effectively removed our need for Jesus by placing the focus on us and our false sense of righteousness earned not through the blood of Christ, but through the manipulation of our own self-perception.
We rationalize our sin.
Another man-centered way we often deal with sin is to rationalize it. “Well okay, maybe there is a problem. It would be nice to perhaps clean up a little around here.” So far so good. We are almost getting there. There is a hint of truth here.
But often this is when the hoarder’s self-centered preservation kicks in. You can almost see it coming. As the home is opened up and years of trash begins leaving through the front door, they become agitated. “What are you doing? I need that. I want that. This is important. I don’t know why you think this is a big deal. Actually I don’t have a problem. I’m simply being frugal. You guys are the ones with the problem!”
Likewise in regards to our sin, we have the ability to sit there and actually talk ourself out of pursuing godliness by claiming our own perfection in relation to someone else’s shortfall. “I’m not the one with the problem. I only act this way because ________.” And again, we have removed our need for Jesus because the focus is now on others and their wrongs as opposed to our need for Christ and the gospel he brings.
The problem with both of these approaches is that each one is intrinsically man-centered. There is no Jesus. In future entries, we will look at two final man-centered approaches which I believe are being lived out as a false substitute for the true gospel in far too many of our churches. Then finally, we will look at a true God-centered, gospel motivated response to sin in the life of a believer.