Addressing our sins

“Please don’t touch that knife, John. I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

These words echoed faintly in the back of the little five-year-old’s mind as he reached into the drawer for that forbidden object.  He needed something sharp to cut open his new toy, and the freshly sharpened knife was definitely the tool for the job. He would just make sure to be quick and then put it back exactly where he had gotten it, and mommy would never even know.

Moments later the boy was running to the bathroom for a Band-Aid. He had indeed cut himself with the knife. He covered the bleeding wound on his palm and threw on some mittens to hide the Band-Aid. Then he scurried back to the kitchen, rinsed off the knife, dried it, and set it right back where he had grabbed if from. When his mother asked him later about his mittens, he just shrugged and said he was “playing Eskimos” and had to keep his hands warm.

John, this young boy, had done something that he knew was wrong, but had justified it in his mind because it looked good and profitable to his desires (opening his toy). Nobody had seen him, but that did not make the disobedience any less real and wrong, and John now bore not only the guilt of the deed, but also physical consequences–a cut on his hand. Also this one sin and failing to confront it became the foundation for multiple sins, as John lied and deceived to cover it up.

A very similar story happened long ago in the Garden of Eden. Eve, when no one was around but the serpent, rebelled. In that one defining moment Eve had been filled with self-indulgence, and that fruit looked to her very good and pleasing. It wouldn’t be that bad, and nobody was watching. Eve took the fruit. We all know what happened next. Adam ate as well, and then still trying to hide, they covered themselves. And they were left with the grave consequences of their sin.

How true can this same process be in our own lives? We do something that (whether we consciously want to admit it to ourselves or not) we know deep down is wrong. We try to cover up our sin perhaps by only indulging in it with people who won’t “accuse” or by doing it in secret or by keeping our sinful thoughts and desires to ourselves. Maybe we only say things in sin behind others’ backs or in company that won’t “judge us” for it. However we may try to hide our sin we by our old sinful nature are so easily prone to swallow the lie that for some reason sin is pleasurable, okay, and can be kept a secret.

But let’s look even more personally at this. We, who bear the name “Christian”, so often walk around wearing masks. These masks are the masks of “righteousness.” We may go to church. We may even be very respectful or diligent or what have you. We don’t ever do anything “wrong” per se, but our relationship with our Lord is lacking. We don’t trust Him in every aspect of our lives. We find ourselves “too busy” with life to hear what He actually has to say about our lives. We forget to be thankful for all of the things we so often take for granted, and we try to think we can go through life on our own strength. We make for ourselves other gods, whether they be our status, wealth, toys, studies, desires… any obsessions that steal our constant focus and desire away from the One for whom we ought to be doing this all anyways. We like Eve have our own personal secret sins that we try to hide, deceiving perhaps even ourselves as we are deluded by the lies and excuses we give for them.

But no sin is kept secret. And in the end the One who we are really sinning against is the One who always sees us anyways. We may hide and escape detection here on this earth, but sin always has consequences. No mask that is worn can “undo” a sin. When we continue in sin and fail to address it, we like John find ourselves getting caught in a pit that is just being dug deeper and deeper.

And we are no longer children of this world. Though we may have to deal with the consequences of our sins, we have the wonderful blessing of knowing that in Christ we are no longer in bondage to our sin! What goodness there is in throwing off our masks and facing our sins–exposing them! Sure, assuming responsibility for them is daunting and demands humility and meekness. But when we address our sins, we can deal with them. Our relationship with God is worth so much more than our pride! When we humble ourselves–when we recognize our weakness and dependence on God–when we accept our wrongs and repent of them, then we can grow in the strength of our Lord. We can find forgiveness. We can find hope and move forward in our lives with dependence and comfort in God, being built up and building others up in faith. As it is written in II Corinthians 12:9, “And He said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

John’s mother later found out about the knife. John was sorry. He was punished. His mother addressed the wound so that it wouldn’t get infected. John felt sheepish, but the worry and the weight of trying to keep the secret felt good to be gone.  And though the tears of the brief punishment still sat on his cheeks, John knew his mother still loved him.  Just the same the Lord loves His children.

May we go forward in life, eschewing sin and the lies that go with it, carrying with us the prayer of Arthur Bennett:

“I bring my soul to thee;

break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.

Unmask to me sin’s deformity,

that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it…

Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin

Lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed

As in the greatness of the Person sinned against…

All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them

cry pardon.

Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;

Give me the fullness of a godly grief

that trembles and fears,

yet ever trusts and loves,

which is ever powerful, and ever confident;

Grant that through the tears of repentance

I may see more clearly the brightness

and glories of the saving cross.




Rahab and the spies

Israel was about to cross the Jordan; they were only days away from embarking on the conquest of Canaan. Just before the crossing, however, we read that Joshua sent two spies to take a look at Jericho. Jericho sat just west of the Jordan River, a few miles north of the Dead Sea; it was the first city that Israel would be encountering, and would therefore be the first city Israel would have to fight. From a military perspective, it is not wise to leave enemy fortresses in your wake, because you may find yourself surrounded the further you move into enemy territory. Therefore, Jericho would have to go.

                The two spies were able to enter the city without any trouble, and they took up residence at the house of Rahab. You know the story; the king of Jericho was told that there were spies from the Israelites in his city, so he sent to Rahab and told her to bring the spies to him. Rahab hid the spies and told the king they had left. The king believed the lie and left in pursuit of the spies while Rahab let them down the wall on a scarlet rope after they promised that her house would be spared when Israel attacked the city provided that she tie the same scarlet rope in her window. The spies went back to Joshua and said “Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us” (Joshua 2:24).

                You recall that this is not the first time that spies went into Canaan. Note the contrast between the ten spies that gave an evil report forty years earlier and these two spies. They have confidence in the power of Jehovah to give them the land. Remember Jericho was no insignificant fortress! It had big stone walls and heavy gates which were manned by Canaanite warriors, but the spies said ‘the LORD has given it to us!’ There has been a change among the Israelites over the last forty years, they have learned to trust God. We need to trust God as well. He fights for us. If God be for us, who can be against us? When you struggle with sin, do not forget that the same God who would eventually knock down the walls of Jericho is your God today.

                But what of the lie of Rahab? Does this passage provide biblical support for just lies? It is obvious that Rahab was a child of God. In the very passage we are considering it is evident that she desires to be with the people of Israel and not to be destroyed with her own people. But we also know that Rahab was in the line of Christ (Matthew 1:5 – Rahab was the mother of Boaz who married Ruth!). Furthermore, in Hebrews 11:31 we read “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” Clearly she was loved by God and is our sister in Christ, but does all this mean that it was okay for her to lie? Is it okay for us to lie if circumstances press us? John Calvin is instructive on this issue:

As to the falsehood, we must admit that though it was done for a good purpose, it was not free from fault. For those who hold what is called a dutiful lie to be altogether excusable, do not sufficiently consider how precious truth is in the sight of God. Therefore, although our purpose be to assist our brethren, to consult for their safety and relieve them, it never can be lawful to lie, because that cannot be right which is contrary to the nature of God. And God is truth. And still the act of Rahab is not devoid of the praise of virtue, although it was not spotlessly pure. For it often happens that while the saints study to hold the right path, they deviate into circuitous courses. (From the Commentary on Joshua)

The end does not justify the means, and even our best works are as filthy rags. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that though Rahab was wrong in lying, in his sovereignty God brought about good. So it is with us! Though we want to be completely free from sin so that we can serve God perfectly, before we get discouraged we would do well to remember that even when we sin God brings about good, and so all things are ultimately working toward that great good of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.