The point is simple: the evil of sin lies not only in transgressing a standard but in receiving something good from God yet using it in rebellion against him. Let us repent. Let’s repent of receiving God’s abundant and good gifts without living in constant gratitude. Let’s repent of using those gifts for our selfish and prideful desires rather than his glory. Let’s repent of worshiping the gift rather than the Giver.
n his extraordinarily useful book A Method for Prayer, Matthew Henry includes a large section on repentance, which begins with these words:
Having given glory to God which is his due, we must next take shame to ourselves, which is our due, and humble ourselves before him in the sense of our sinfulness and vileness…
With many examples, he demonstrates effective prayers of repentance. To the modern reader, what may stand out the most is the acknowledgement of sin’s evil. It’s one thing to admit we’re sinners and name our sins before God. It’s equally important to stare at those sins long enough to own and feel our shame as well as our guilt. (Henry says we are to “aggravate” or poke at them until we see them for what they really are.)
Toward that end, here are two aspects of the evil-ness of our sin which God has recently shown me very clearly. To those who need motivation to read a morose article like this, let’s remember that “…her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47) In other words, deeper repentance is the shortest and most sure path to greater love for Jesus.
Every sin is a rejection of God’s goodness.
Imagine a world-renowned architect designed and built, free of charge, a new house for you. And you chose instead to live under a bridge instead.
Imagine a friend prepared a beautiful feast, inviting you to her home where you promptly rejected her food and began to much on a moldy piece of bread you brought with you.
So it is with every single sin. God’s law, summarized in the ten commandments, is an outflow of God’s goodness to all those made in his image. Both as Creator and Father, he has carefully and clearly communicated an outline of the most full and blessed life we could possibly live. His law is, quite simply, your best life now. Writing that law for us (by his own hand!) was an extraordinary gift, perhaps surpassed only by the gift of himself through Christ.
Consider how our longest Psalm (119) is thoroughly dedicated to thanking God for the gift of his law. Or the words of Psalm 19, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul…the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart…the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.”
And yet we sin. In order to sin, we need to convince ourselves, each time, that our plan is better. That God’s plan is unkind and restrictive. Blinded by sin’s deceitfulness, we choose famine rather than feasting, brokenness over wholeness, death instead of life, wretched independence over.