Quite the vague title, huh? I feel like the general topic of sin can go in a million different directions-- what is sin, is this (insert any number of actions or non-actions here) a sin, why do we sin, how can we stop ourselves from sinning, how does our sin affect others... the questions are endless.
My thoughts (W here) are flowing from a recent realization that I had while working through a summer Bible study workbook that I received at church.
The realization? I don't spend nearly enough time thinking about my own sin.
For as often as I feel guilt, anxiety, shame, and any number of other negative emotions, I hardly ever relate these emotions as being indicative of my own sin.
And I've realized that this is a problem because sin serves a unique purpose in our lives-- to continually bring us back to God when we recognize our own shortcomings and our inability to live righteous lives apart from Him. Our interactions with God regarding sin should follow a pretty obvious, Biblical pattern-- we take ownership of our sin, we acknowledge our need for forgiveness, we ask for forgiveness, and we are forgiven. It is through this pattern that we are set free from both the sin itself and the negative feelings listed above that often accompany sin.
When I was completing the Bible study this week, I was rather horrified to realize that I couldn't remember the last time I actively asked for forgiveness from the Lord. I realized that every day in which I simply tack on, "And please forgive me for my sins, amen," during the last 5 seconds of my prayers I am forfeiting the healing that God wants to give me. After all, His forgiveness isn't for Him-- it's for me. He doesn't want me to ask for forgiveness for His sake, but for my own.
Problem number two: In my own vanity, I couldn't really think of anything sinful that I had done recently. RIDICULOUS. I know in my heart and my head that I am an incredibly sinful person, and in that moment I felt like I was back in 2nd grade in the confessional muttering, "Well...I lied to my sister today." So I started thinking and praying for the Lord to help me to be aware of my sin. Because if you're not aware of your sin, then you are not aware of the ways in which your sin is controlling or destroying areas of your life.
And this, too, goes back to a pride issue. First, because I want to think of myself as a good person, as someone who does the right thing most of the time, as a less-sinful person than compulsive liars or shoplifters or cheaters. And second, because I am too fearful of my own inability to conquer the sin once it is identified and I decide to start fighting it. This was a sad realization indeed, because it shows my own lack of faith in myself and in the Lord who has proven He can conquer anything-- even death itself.
Know that this post doesn't wrap up nicely. I don't have any 5-step plans or pieces of advice on how to get on track with acknowledging and confessing your sin. I hope that maybe this post will remind you, like my Bible study reminded me, that our sin is a gift that God uses to bring us renewal, and that this renewal can only come if we acknowledge our need for it and ask for it.