The Lie of Sin and the Truth of God

A few years ago, after moving to a new apartment, my family decided to purchase a new TV. Although I would usually keep the box the TV came in for some possible future use, I decided to throw it out due to the lack of space.

As I was waiting for the elevator to throw out the box in the basement, one of my neighbors, who was around the age of 8, appeared around the corner. He looked at the box I was holding and stood in awe in the presence of my box. In excitement, he asked me if the TV was mine, to which I responded that this was only the box and that there was nothing inside. Yet, even though he knew that there was nothing in the box, he desired the box. He desired it because he knew what it offered: life with a big TV.

The Lie of Sin

In many ways, the TV box is a picture of sin in our lives. We look at sin, and we desire it because of what it potentially offers us: happiness and satisfaction. We sin because we believe that sin will hold true to its offers and bring us what it promises. With the TV box, my neighbor saw the potential life with a bigger TV, which to him equaled more happiness and satisfaction.

This is why sin is so attractive. What sin offers us is love, acceptance, joy, and satisfaction. It promises to give us what we so desire and long for in our hearts.

Sin, however, is a lie and just like the TV box, there is nothing inside. Its promises are empty, and all it provides are temporary gratifications. It is attractive on the outside but when we look in, we find that all it is full of are lies.

However, the lie goes deeper than just unkept promises.

Not only does sin not provide what it promised, but it also brings death (Romans 6:23) and leads us further away from God for it is something that God hates (Psalm 5:4).

Sin promises life but in reality brings death. This is the lie of sin.

The Devastating Exchange

Although we may know that sin is wrong, the truth is that we fall into the lie of sin. We start to believe the promises of sin and begin to actively participate in it.

Paul addressed a very similar problem in Romans 1. He talks of people who, although they knew of God, did not honor him or give thanks to him. They then, in what they believed to be wisdom, exchanged the glory of God for images resembling man and animals (Romans 1:23). These people started to believe that these images would bring them joy and satisfaction.

In the same way, we exchange the glory of God for the sins of our lives. We believe that relationships, money, sex, our careers, and other things will bring us joy and satisfaction. We take inherently good things and not only place them above God but make them our God.

This is the devastating exchange. We give up God and instead settle for images that are far less glorious. As C.S Lewis said in “Weight of Glory“, “ We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

In all this, God knows that nothing could satisfy the souls of his creation other than himself. In knowing this, God gives people over to the very sinful desires of their hearts to show them that only he can satisfy (Romans 1:24). He wants his creation to see that they must go to him to be satisfied. He wants more for us than to participate in this devastating exchange where we give up God for sin.

The Truth of God

In Romans 1, Paul says that people exchanged the truth about God for a lie. The lie of sin was that it did not provide all that it promised and in face of this lie, we exchanged the glory of God for this very sin.

What we need to help us not fall into the lie of sin is to see the truth of God. Here are 3 truths that we must hold onto:

1. God is the most glorious

There is nothing in this world that is as glorious as God is. He is so glorious that even the heavens declare his glory and the skies proclaim his handiwork (Psalm 19:1-2). Not only do the heavens declare his glory, but all things are from him, through him, and to him (Romans 11:36). He is the King of glory and we can never truly fathom the depth and breadth of his glory. (Psalm 24:10)

It is then by seeing and knowing that God is the most glorious that we stop chasing lesser things. In order to see through the lie of sin, we must know that whatever sin may give will always fall short of the glory of God. Even if sin kept its promises, it would be providing a shell of true glory.

2. Only God can satisfy

It is because our souls long to be satisfied that our default tendency is to do what we can to fill it. However, the truth is that nothing in this world can satisfy besides God. Many times throughout Scripture, its writers declare that God satisfied the longings of their soul (Psalm 107:9) and that he fills us with joy and eternal pleasures (Psalm 16:11). Furthermore, Jesus himself says that you must drink from the water that he gives in order to never be thirsty again (John 4:14). What this shows is that everything other than God will continue to leave us thirsty and empty.

The more we come to understand that only God will satisfy, the less we will look to other things to satisfy us. By understanding this, we come to see more clearly that sin can only provide temporary satisfaction. Thus, we fight sin with that truth that only God can truly satisfy.

3. God deserves all the glory

In knowing that God is the most glorious and that only he alone can satisfy, our response to these truths must be worship. We must know that it is because of these two truths that God deserves all the glory. So in our pursuit of fighting sin and finding satisfaction in Christ, we must give all the glory to God who deserves all our adoration and praise (Revelation 4:11).

As we hold onto these truths, may we continue to fight sin and run to our God who provides eternal satisfaction.

Progress Not Perfection

Philippians 3:12-21

Straining Toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

I first heard the phrase “progress not perfection” a few years back listening to a sermon by Pastor Matt Chandler. Since then it’s been a truth that I have preached to myself in times when I am faced with failure or feel the weight of my sinfulness. It is a truth filled with hope for the everyday Christian in their pursuit of holiness.

It’s Not about Perfection

Many people will attest to the fact that they can never be perfect and that no amount of effort could ever be put in to reach perfection. Yet, even though we acknowledge this fact we still attempt to be perfect or at least appear that way. This can be seen in the way that the world views failure.

Failure is criticized, mocked, and even put on social media for people to laugh at and enjoy. The culture of failure is that we must do our best to not be a part of it. We must not fail or else we’ll be the most shared video on Facebook. Our attempt and effort to never fail can also be seen as a pursuit of perfection for perfection cannot be obtained if there is failure. It’s quite ironic that we see people try so hard not to fail and to make everything so perfect when the general consensus is that perfection cannot be obtained.

This irony can also be seen in our Christian lives and in our pursuit of holiness. We as Christians have an understanding of our sinfulness yet we strive to be “perfect” Christians. We end up focusing so much on the process of sanctification (becoming more like Christ) that we lose sight of God himself. We agree that we cannot be perfect but do our best to never mess up or break God’s law.

Scripture gives us a radically different picture of both perfection and failure. What Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:12 is that he is not yet perfect. He admits right away that he’s not a perfect Christian and not fully like Christ and that he has a long way to go. This is encouraging for us because it helps us see that it’s not about perfection. Paul knew that it’s not about being the best person or the best Christian because perfection wasn’t something he could ever attain in this lifetime. He knew and understood his sinfulness and so humbly admitted that he was far from perfection. By understanding this, Paul was able to lay down the burden of striving to achieve an unattainable perfection.

It’s About Progress

If it’s not about perfection what is about then? Does this mean that we can do whatever we want? Should we even do anything if we can never be perfect anyways?

These questions can be answered in the same verses where Paul admits that he’s not perfect. As soon as Paul says that he’s not perfect in verse 12, he goes on to say that he “press(es) on to make it (his) own”. Although he knows he’s not perfect and can never be, he still puts in the effort to be more like Christ. Paul knew that sanctification was a process that needed effort for there to be progress.

What Paul also understood was the difference between pursuing holiness and legalism (conviction that law keeping is the ground of our acceptance with God). The difference between holiness and legalism is not in the action but in the heart behind the action. The reason that Paul “pressed on to make (holiness) his own was because Christ Jesus made him his own”.

Reading the bible, praying, serving the church, and the like are not actions that are limited to a person who is legalistic. A godly Christian who earnestly seeks a deeper relationship with God must also do these very things. However, the legalist puts in effort toward this with perfection in mind. The Pharisees put in effort toward holiness not to know God more but because they viewed moral perfection as the grounds of acceptance. The Christian, however, puts in effort because there is an understanding that God has made us His own.

Christians press on toward holiness and righteousness because we know the truth of the Gospel. We know that God sent Jesus to die on the cross through which our sins were forgiven and paid for. We know that God raised Jesus from the grave and was thus satisfied with the payment. It is through this that we were made sons and daughters of God. We are no longer our own but God’s as he made us His own through the blood of Christ.

It is this truth that we hold onto and this truth that drives our effort and our sanctification.

Perfection in Our Progress

What we will come to see is that in our progress there are many times when we will fail. There will be moments when God seems so far from us, and in our sinfulness, we seem so far from Him. In these moments, we must remember that there is a perfection in our progress: the perfection of Christ.

Because Christ died for us on the cross, His perfection is viewed as our perfection (2 Corinthians 5:21). So, even in our failures, our imperfections, and our sins, God still sees the righteousness of Christ when he sees us.

It is Christ’s perfection that we hold onto in our progress for it brings us hope and comfort in our failures and imperfections. We hold onto Christ knowing that our progress is driven by the grace of God and that all our failures and sins were paid for on the cross.

We must remember that it’s about progress and not perfection, and in the process, we hold onto the perfection of Christ which brings us hope and comfort.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento