105.0 Sin: A Primary Concept:
Obviously, Sin is a very primary issue in Christian Redemption. So, let's now consider the issue of Sin. And, perhaps the best way to start is with an associated issue, the issue of Influence.
In the simplest terms, our personal influence is essentially the power to bend reality to your wishes. That influence may be expressed in many varied forms such as money, political or social clout, or military might. But, in essence, our personal influence is simply the sum total of our ability to effect change in accord with our wishes.
From the beginning of mankind's existence, we have been an independent influence in the Universe. God gives each of us the ability to make independent decisions and take independent actions which affect our personal, and the larger reality.
When we begin with this understanding, we are well positioned to grasp the true nature of the essential sin which leads to the condemnation of the soul. And, when we gain this very basic insight, many, many other things in our spiritual life simply become obvious.
105.1 - The Telling Question:
So, in considering the issue of influence, the telling question becomes, "What will I do with my personal influence?" And that question actually entails our self-sovereignty, or said another way, our "right" to govern our own lives.
And this revealing question of what we should do with our personal influence really involves only two choices. One, we can elect to humbly return our influence to Christ by embracing His Lordship. Or two, we can choose to retain our self-sovereignty and simply wield our influence as we, alone, see fit.
The choice to do the latter, to reject God's love, authority and guidance in favor of our own willful intentions is the perfect idea of the Essential Sin. Sin, in its essential form, is simply this instinctive value, which exists on the deepest governing level of our heart, which causes us to desire a self-determined approach to life, i.e. to do as we please.
And, it is this life-governing heart value which endangers the soul, before any expression of this motive as an action. Those deeds are only the product of the value. So, it is this deep and driving value which becomes the primary issue in redemption.
We usually conceive of sin as some ugly and evil action. But, the reality is that sinful acts are a secondary issue. In fact, it is the Sin Motive that is the primary issue. And it is the presence of this motive in our heart for which we will ultimately be judged - not the works which it spawns.
And, in fact, this instinct for self-determination does not always show itself as an ugly, shake-your-fist-in-God's-face kind of expression, at all. It may actually occur as simply a quiet, self assured independence in our daily decision making.
And this more acceptable looking, but still self-guided, course can, indeed, be very moral and socially sensitive. It can be one that practices religion, and quickly acknowledges the goodness of God. But if, in the practical terms of the everyday, we are instinctively driven by the sin motive to just quietly do our own thing - then, we remain in peril of soul, in spite of our seeming "goodness."
105.2 - Sin Has Two Dimensions: We should also emphasize what we have already noticed: there are, indeed, two distinct dimensions of sin. We have already described the first, the inner impulse for self-direction.
But, the other dimension of sin is, of course, the more concrete expression - the act of sin which springs from this inner motive. So, we have this invisible but very real and pervasive sin instinct. Then, springing from this basic motive is the visible sin, the action.
It is important to understand this dual nature of sin. It is only as we make a distinction between the two dimensions of sin, the motive and the act, that we can begin to understand why the sin motive is God's primary concern in redemption. It is because what we do, is always based in who we are. Thus, the work of Christ is aimed at changing who we are in our heart; because, that ultimately takes care of what we do.
So, God's first priority in redemption is to remove the sin motive, the real source of our behavioral problems.
Behold, "The Great Dead Tree" of sin. The visible, sinful acts are certainly a blight on the landscape of our life. But, to merely cut down the visible tree does not remove the problem. It has, in its roots, an invisible essence, a living motive which will simply regrow its ugly presence.
Obviously then, destroying the visible tree, the expression of sin, is not really the solution. Getting at the invisible essence of the tree, the sin instinct or motive, is the real answer. And, while we can't really do that, Christ can, as we shall see.