The last couple of days we’ve been looking at the important, difficult, and oft-avoided duty of confronting or rebuking sin. We looked at the general attitude we should have when approaching someone about their sin and then listed a bank of 30 questions to ask when challenging sin. Today I want to suggest 14 truths to remember throughout this process:
Remember the depth of sin: This is not some shallow simple matter. It has deep origins and roots in the unfathomable depths of the human heart.
Remember the width of sin: Sin impacts every part of our beings – bodies, minds, emotions, desires, imaginations, personalities, relationships, and so on.
Remember the length of sin: Long-term habits are not easy to break – they create default pathways in our brain that we all too easily and automatically travel down.
Remember the height of sin: It is against God, the Holy and infinite God of heaven and earth.
Remember the power of sin: The person’s whole life may be dominated and consumed by it.
Remember the damage of sin: The destructive consequences for the person, his relationship with God, and his relationship with others.
Remember the love of sin: He is not doing it because he hates it but because he loves it and gets pleasure from it – no matter how temporary.
Remember the confusion of sin: It is illogical and irrational and makes those committing it illogical and irrational. You cannot rely on reasoning to defeat sin.
Remember the context of sin: Without absolving a person of responsibility, consider some of the factors that may have contributed to this person’s sin – genetic, social, providential, relationship factors. Other people’s sins may have triggered this sin.
Remember the memory of sin: Even when a person is delivered from it, the memory will often remain and continue to tempt.
Remember the deceitfulness of sin: We deny, downplay, shift blame, minimize, excuse, etc.
Remember the despair of sin: A person be hopelessly overwhelmed with shame and guilt.
Remember the ignorance of sin: Through ignorance, custom, context or seared conscience, a person may not realize what they are doing is sinful.
Remember the companions of sin: it rarely comes alone but brings lots of “friends” with it.
These reminders keep us serious, humble, and prayerful throughout this process.
But we must also remember the encouraging wonder of Christ’s glorious person and saving work. His redemption is deeper, wider, longer, and higher than any sin. His salvation is more powerful than sin and can heal the deepest wound. His love can expel and replace the love of sin. He can straighten out the most confused situation. He can overcome the most handicapping of contexts. He can produce total honesty in the most deceived and deceiving of hearts. He gives hope to the despairing, light to the ignorant, and sends many powerful and friendly graces along with His salvation.
Where sin abounds, there grace much more abounds!
David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand