“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” John 3:19-20
These are the words of Jesus Christ. I’m not sure His “verdict” would be warmly received today. His sweeping conclusion is that all people love darkness instead of light and willfully choose to hide their sin. That is, until they come fully into the light (as He is in the light).
How do we become so engrossed in sin and darkness? Well, we do it by lifestyles of stealth and spin that result in a state of saturation. By “stealth” I simply mean we willfully sin “in the dark”, behind closed doors, away from the eyes of those who would censor or prosecute. By “spin” I mean that we redefine sin. We come up with a new angle on sin. We lower the bar. Times change, we say. By the way, I’m talking about people in the church here. Of course folks in the world maintain their own right to define sin. But the problem occurs when the church allows the prevailing culture around it to define sin. Over time the church becomes “saturated” in this moral morass and loses its clarity and conviction. When this has happened there is little reason to repent anymore, that is, unless you are guilty of the few remaining “big” sins, like murder or rape.
This largely explains whey there’s as much bondage to sin in the church as outside.
- One doesn’t repent of a bad “habit”, you make New Years resolutions. But what we call a bad habit the Bible may call iniquity! The Bible says that drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God, for instance. Drunkenness is a sin to be repented of, not simply a condition to receive counseling for.
- One doesn’t repent of credit card debt, you get debt counseling. The Bible says that “covetousness is idolatry”. When I constantly am motivated to “keep up with the Jones'”, to have everything that Madison Avenue says I need to make me happy or beautiful, then I have become an idolator and have other gods in my life.
- One doesn’t repent of an “alternative lifestyle”, you work to change the public’s opinion regarding it. But the Bible says that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. We dare not make sacred any sin the Bible denounces.
- One doesn’t repent of worrying, you read self-help books to overcome it. But the Bible reveals that worry is unbelief and unbelief is sin. Worry is willingly entertaining slander views of God’s character, power, and promises. This is also idolatry.
- One doesn’t repent of unforgiveness, you go to a therapist who helps you understand your dysfunctional past. But Jesus says if you do not forgive those who have wronged you, you will not inherit the kingdom of God! If you have hate in your heart you are guilty enough to go to hell.
When we allow the world to define sin for us, then we lose the sense of need for repentance, and thus the grace and power to change eludes us.
“Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.” (Romans 7:13)
Paul here shows us what the role of the moral teachings of the Bible (the Law) are. The Law exposes sin in all of its ugliness. By the standard of the Word of God and through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we come to see sin as God sees it, to define it in His terms. Then sin “becomes utterly sinful”. Only then can there be any real turning away from it. Only then do the cross and the blood of Jesus begin to have great value in our sight. Only then do we truly see our need for a Savior and a great salvation.