Sin has been in the news recently. Surprisingly it’s been one of the major topics of conversation. I’m not talking about murders, infidelity, robberies and political scandals. That kind of sin has been with us so long that we’ve become impervious to it. I’m talking about sin from a religious perspective.
For example there have been articles (again) about why Joel Osteen won’t address the topic of sin in his sermons. You can read about it here. Then there is the 261 page document released recently by the Pope titled Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”) that has a lot to say about sin especially in the context of marriage. If you don’t want to read the entire document you can read articles here and here. For such an unpopular subject people are suddenly talking about sin.
Admittedly, sin isn’t a popular subject. In fact it’s become so unpopular that it’s mentioned less and less in churches where you would expect to hear something about it. We would much rather talk about grace – and that’s not all bad. The problem is that you can’t have grace without sin and there’s no salvation without something to be saved from.
Even when we do talk about sin we often try to absolve ourselves and blame it on someone or something else.
We even try to blame Satan for our sin – as if he held a gun to our head and made us do something we didn’t want to do.
But the Apostle James had a different take on it. He said each one [of us] is tempted [and gives in to the temptation] when he is drawn away by his own desire and enticed (James 1:14).
The key words here are by his own desire. Here’s what James is saying in a nutshell: Sin is the result of our own Selfishness.
The power behind sin is the fact that we are selfish people.
It may be most evident in sins that we classify as the BIG ones: abortion, adultery, etc. etc. But it’s also evident in the sins that we wink at: lying, gossip, anger etc. etc.
We sin because there is an advantage that accrues to us in our sinning. It feels good. It benefits me. It simplifies my life. It removes a potential problem. Most sin (perhaps all sin) is the result of selfishness. Our focus becomes us.
But the Christian life is the exact opposite of selfishness. It is not about me, it’s about others. Even Christ did not come to be served (it’s about me) but to serve (it’s about others (Mark 10:45).
We’re taught to be others focused.
Philippians 2:4: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
1 Corinthians 10:24: Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
To put it into perspective, selfishness is one of the predominant sins that the Apostle Paul lists (in fact it’s first on his list) as characteristic of a sinful world in the last days: men will be lovers of themselves (2 Timothy 3:2). A clear condemnation.
When we realize how serious selfishness is and the grip it has on our lives – when we begin to recognize that it is the power behind our sin we have taken the first step in leaving the me culture and gaining some degree of control over sin in our lives.
Stay in the Word