Sin is deceptive and it’s layered. To understand the depths of our sins, we have to do some digging in order to understand just how deep it grows. If God can purify the roots of our sin, the rotten fruit that it produces will be purified as well.
The Heart of Sin
At the heart of every sin is an incorrect belief about God and a desire to usurp his sovereignty for our own desires. Often, if not always, at the core of our sin is actually a dethroning of God, desiring his throne for ourselves.
That sounds extreme, but consider how our hearts are prone to distrusting God. Think about the original sin in the garden. Satan deceived Adam and Eve by telling them that God was holding out on them. In the same way, our flesh thrashes wildly against the created order that God has made, convinced that his design is not the best.
But if we look at history from the beginning, we see God’s goodness through his actions. Conversely, if we look at our surroundings and conclude that the wrong in the world is God’s fault rather than the sin (brokenness) that has fractured and poisoned creation, our distrust begins.
As we have each come to understand sin in its various forms, we begin to recognize it in our actions or the actions of those around us. We see external behaviors or tendencies and can identify what is not “God’s design.” Do we notice what is underneath these behaviors though? Do you know why you gossip? Do you know why you lust after money and sex?
Each of these sins manifest themselves on the surface in one way, but have much more to them as we dig deeper. It seems that gossiping roots itself in a desire to feel better about ourselves in relation to the person or group that we are slandering. What is then underneath our need to feel better about ourselves? Our lust for money and sex is a form of running after satisfaction and fulfillment in things other than God. And when we are confronted, all too often we minimize or deny our sin. Why? Because we don’t want to lose that specific sin and we don’t want others’ perception of us to be tarnished.
James 3:14 confronts us about denying the truth and minimizing or even boasting about our sin, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”
Many or most believers struggle with envy and selfish ambition and are never confronted about it. Pray about how we can allow one another to speak into our lives and how we can graciously speak into others lives and get beneath the surface.
Fruit to Root
True biblical repentance is often confused for behavior modification. Our brother or sister is anxious and so we tell them, “Don’t worry, be happy.” That’s a 180 in action, but not in belief and it won’t work. We have to change what we believe to truly repent. We have to get to the bottom of why we are anxious and what we are failing to believe or forgetting about God.
When I am anxious, it is because I am looking to man for approval and forgetting that I am approved by God already and that God’s opinion of me matters so much more than man’s. I have to be reminded who God is, what He has done, and who I am in Him. I have to be told and shown, as the disciples did (Matthew 24:1-2), that the things of this present life are temporary.
Messy Gospel Community
In order to have these types of sanctifying conversations, we have to be willing to get our feelings hurt and to be open to rebuke. These conversations are not easy, but they are part of God’s sanctification of us. In order to be willing to be vulnerable to this type of painful process we must focus on two things:
- The Good News - Jesus’ blood is our righteousness.
- God’s glory is man’s primary purpose.
When we let go of our need to justify ourselves because we know that Jesus’ work is sufficient and decide that God’s glory is better than our sin, only then will we be able to give the surgical scalpel to our brothers and sisters and allow God to remove the cancerous sin that infects our hearts.