Lucien Freud. Bella. Private Collection.
We need to reclaim the idea of sin, but we must never succumb to its despair. We were created in the image of God for the joy of God. Such divine dignity brings with it the freedom to choose; we are free to choose good, but we are necessarily then free to choose evil. Life’s seductions continually tempt us to deviate from our True North. Still, if we vigilantly keep watch and correct course, we will never stray beyond the reach of Love’s affirmation and recreative mercy.
Sin is the destruction of one’s self and one’s relationships. Sin ruins us when we are blind to it. We don’t see sin in ourselves, but we see it in others—and they always see it in us. Our blindness has begotten anger, anxiety, self-pity, and self-hatred. Sin can destroy our deeply precious and delicate natures, causing its devastation at the very core of our beings.
Pride whispers we deserve more, so we tear down the other. Envy competes and compares and promises we will never be or have enough. Anger spews out words that sate us while destroying the other. Sloth stagnates us into thinking there is no point to it all, gluttony makes us crave what we want, and greed makes us take it. If we fail to look fearlessly and clearly at these inclinations, we gradually and imperceptibly give in one choice at a time to a life enslaved to sin that we justify by telling ourselves that is just who we are and therefore all we are.
Conceived in the perfection and beauty of their Holy Loving Parent, Adam and Eve were entrusted with the dignity of freedom that love requires. Still, they rationalized their choice to disobey by saying it couldn’t hurt to see what evil was. Their inclination to sin became our inheritance. However, to say that we are inclined to do evil is very different from saying that we are doomed to do evil.
There is radical hope in remembering our sacred identity, but when we ignore our sins, even and especially the so-called smaller ones like negativity or criticalness or thoughtlessness, we abandon our resistance before the battle even begins. Like the prodigal son, we must own our sin and return home to the Father, who waits with open arms. God gives us our nature, but we have to fight for our character.
To recover our passion for life will require quiet time, focused attention, true remorse, obedience, strength of spirit, and above all, intense desire. If we will attend to the deepest parts of our being, standing outside of ourselves, gently and objectively observing our sinful behaviors, refusing discouragement, and choosing—however imperfectly—to resist them, we will live into our divine pedigree. We will reclaim our stand on solid ground as persons without fear, uniquely created before all eternity, called to participate in birthing holiness into the world.
I know that you delight to set your truth deep in my spirit.
So come into the hidden places of my heart and teach me wisdom.
Purify my conscience! Make this leper clean again!
Wash me in your love until I am pure in heart.
Satisfy me in your sweetness, and my song of joy will return.
The places you have crushed within me will rejoice in your healing touch.
Hide my sins from your face; erase all my guilt by your saving grace.
Keep creating in me a clean heart. Fill me with pure thoughts and holy desires, ready to please you.
Let my passion for life be restored, tasting joy in every breakthrough you bring to me. Hold me close to you with a willing spirit that obeys whatever you say. Then I can show other guilty ones how loving and merciful you are. They will find their way back home to you, knowing that you will forgive them. 1David—giant slayer, singer-songwriter, King of Israel, adulterer, murderer, man after God’s own heart. 2
- Psalm 51:6-13 The Passion Translation
- 1 Samuel 13:14