I was speaking with a friend in church today about how it seems to me that the extreme sanctification position taken by certain Holiness groups (that we can achieve sinless perfection on this earth) has the ironic consequence of not taking sin nearly seriously enough. I would add that the Wesleyan position, that one can lose one’s salvation, suffers from the same malady–which is probably the opposite of what we might expect at first blush. My reasoning is this: if we truly believe that sin is as insidious as the Bible pictures it to be, affecting everything about us, then it would seem we would be naive to try to claim that we have ever reached the state of being where every single action/thought/word is without any taint of sin. Someone, in speaking of the concept of total depravity, pictured it this way: imagine that sin is blue. Total depravity doesn’t suggest that I am necessarily as blue as I could be, but rather that I am some shade of blue all over. Every facet of my being is tainted by sin, so that I don’t speak right, think right, do right, do good with all the right motives, etc. Sin is insidious and pervasive, and my need for grace, regularly, continually, is absolute.
This is not a new thought for me, but it came to me afresh while in, of all places, about 4 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, playing in the waves. I got to thinking about how many of the “7 Deadly Sins” I was being tempted by in the space of a short period of time that day. Allow me to run down the list:
Pride – “Harv, you might just be the best body-surfer on the beach here in Cancun! Linger here after riding this wave all the way in…make sure that people have the chance to admire the fact that you’ve just brought this wave to its knees…”
Envy – “Sure wish I could afford what all these rich folks can, not to just get a free week on my father-in-law’s dime, but to be able to buy a few weeks worth of the timeshare here myself…”
Gluttony – “Another helping at the Breakfast Buffet would be all right with me!”
Lust – “It….was….an…itsybitsy teeny-weenie yellow-polka-dot bikini…”
Anger – OK, maybe I’m 1-for-5 in not being terribly tempted by the 7 Sins…
Greed – 2-for-6, maybe, but like anger, a temptation often…
Sloth – That’s sort of what a week in the sun in Cancun is all about, right?
In a short timespan, five of the seven assaulted me. I didn’t give in to the temptations every time, nor did I resist with full vigor on every occasion either! Point? All around us, temptation lurks…and in tiny ways, a little here and a little there, whether ever known by others or even by ourselves, we compromise our faith when we give in.
Grace, grace, God’s grace; grace that will pardon and cleanse within!
Grace, grace, God’s grace! Grace that is greater than all our sin!