Thursday, May 09, 2013

What is Our Attitude Toward Sin?

I came across Psalm 36 the other day in my reading and was struck by several things in the first few verses. I'd like to share those with you as I think through this myself. David starts the Psalm by writing, "An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked."  That caught my attention right away. What was he thinking in his own heart regarding the transgression of the wicked? Who are the wicked? In our culture we think of wicked as those who are really evil among us. We don't think of the normal hard-working person who basically does the right thing, takes care of his family and minds his own business. But I think David sees the world in a different way. He sees the world as divided into two groups. Those who believe in, trust in, and follow God and those who don't. It is those non-followers that he calls wicked.

However, as I think about these verses and the transgressions he is speaking about, I want us to realize and admit that we believers also transgress against the ways of God and during those times we are behaving wickedly, even though our sins are forgiven in Christ. So as we look at David's thoughts concerning the transgression, let's not just think about it as an interesting topic about "them". Let's think of it in terms of "us".

The first thing David says is that there is no fear of God before their eyes. I think this is the root of it all both for the person who doesn't believe in God and for us in those moments when we succumb to the everpresent temptations. At that moment, the fear of God has been removed from our eyes. We are not considering the fact that God sees, knows and condemns our sin. We do not take into account that God is greater than we are and as creator, He has the right to tell us what the rules are. We do not have the appropriate level of fear of God. As a result, we venture into areas where we should not be. We cross the line. We transgress.

The second thing he mentions is that "he flatters himself in his own eyes." When I sin,  I am saying several things about myself. I am saying that I know better than God. God has no right to dictate my behavior. I am saying that even though God has warned of danger and threatened discipline, these are empty threats and of no consequence. Nothing to worry about!  I am flattering myself.

The next thing that happens is that our words are affected. "The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit."  Isn't it true that when we sin, we often have to cover up our tracks and that takes the form of deceit. And when we think we are being caught or nearly so, we begin to lash out at those we love in order to keep them from being too close.

David then plainly states in verse 3 that when we transgress and when we are deceptive in our speech we have ceased to be wise. The problem is that when we are involved in sin, we are not usually too worried about whether we are being wise or not. But God continually calls out to us to be wise and not to play the fool. We need to ask ourselves if we really believe God is right and we are wrong. That's what confession is, isn't it?  Admitting that God is right.

In verse 4, David writes, "He devises wickedness on his bed; He sets himself in a way that is not good; He does not abhor evil."  I see several things here. First of all, when we are really set on disobedience and sin, we do think about it lying in bed. We devise ways to get even with someone, or we plan how to gain access to some sinful pleasure. But David laments that when we do this, we are setting ourselves on a way that is not good. Our real problem in the end is that we do not abhor evil. Abhor means to regard with horror and loathing; to detest. How many of us can say that we really abhor sin? 

David seems to change the subject somewhat in verse 5, but look at the encouragement we find there in light of what we have been discussion.  "Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds."

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