march 21, 2014

During this season of Lent Christ-followers are asked to examine their lives in relationship to personal sin. The tradition of giving up something for Lent was an early attempt to help believers discipline their lives by working to remove at least one sin from their lives each year in preparation for Easter. The cumulative effect would be to help the person become more Christ-like over the course of his/her lifetime. Now we think we have done our part by giving up a food item or television show.

On March 25, 2013 FoxBusiness Matt Egan reported, “Investors who steer clear of traditional "sin" stocks like alcohol, tobacco and firearms manufacturers may be keeping their conscience clean at the cost of more lucrative returns.” Indeed, 80% of S&P 1500 sub-industries that could be called “sin” stocks showed higher five-year compound annual growth rates than the broader market. According to Egan, the Vice Fund (VICEX), which primarily invests in the tobacco, alcohol, gaming and defense industries, rallied 21.16% in 2012, besting a 16% gain for the S&P 500. Sin has become big business in the American economy.

Indeed a quick search of the internet reveals that many Americans view sin as something contrived by Western religion or simply something that goes against an individual’s values. In interviews conducted by the Barna Research Group, sin was seen as a personal creation or feeling based on social environment and nurture. Yet, the biblical view of sin is clear.

SIN IS LAWLESSNESS - “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4)
SIN IS UNRIGHTEOUSNESS - “All unrighteousness is sin.” (1 John 5:17)
SIN IS REFUSING TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT – “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
SIN IS REJECTING GOD'S PLANS/PURPOSES - "Woe to the rebellious children," declares the LORD, "Who execute a plan, but not Mine, And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, In order to add sin to sin;” (Isaiah 30:1)

Ask yourself this week if you continue to sin while justifying your actions/attitudes to fit your desires rather than following God’s calling.  Remember God promise that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Bruce Wilkinson, leader in Christian spirituality studies, has written, “When a sin becomes no longer acceptable to you, you have a breakthrough with God.” You might want to read his book Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs as part of your preparation for the Easter celebration.

Grace and peace,

Micheal Summers
Director of Church Services / Assistant Professor of Religion / Assistant Director of Ministry Guidance