A Matter of Perception
Many years ago, I got to see sin up close and personal. I saw its intention. I saw its form. I saw its effects. It was ugly. You may wonder what particular sin that it is I saw. And while that would be a discussion that has merit and would be productive on another occasion, it isn’t the point that I wish to make now. One sin is just as ugly to God as another (Isaiah 59:2). It is a sobering fact that any sin we habitually commit will sever us from our relationship with God (John 8:34). It really does not matter what that sin is, per se. Oh, we may deceive ourselves from time to time with the idea that “my sin” is not as bad as “your sin.” But such is simply deception. It is a lie; a falsehood that Satan tells us to try to get us to believe that sin is not really all that serious. Sin is deadly serious.
Take someone who is addicted to drugs as an example. Here is a sin that is generally recognized in society. We see the drug addict and we think, “How sad for him that he is so possessed by such a thing.” We know that he is possessed by his drugs, because we see his desire for them. We see the craving. We see the “joy” he gets from using them. We see the consumption that results from such use. We see the gutter-filled-trashed-out effects of their use. And we see the addict return time after time to the same estate. We wonder, “How could anyone live like that?” They live like that because the ultimate goal of Satan is to so deceive someone as to make them think that there is nothing wrong with their sinful situation. Our pity for such a one should not be due to the condition, but the deception.
And we ask, “How could one be so deceived so as to be involved in such a pathetic suit?” The truth however, is that we frequently live the same way. Satan has deceived many of us as well. Many live in a state of societally approved addictions that while outwardly appear perfectly benign, inwardly they destroy us just as cancerously as the sin of the drug addict. These addictions display much more subtle and deceptive effects. These effects sometimes even robe themselves in a façade of righteousness so as to have the appearance of something decent. We see such effects in the faces of those who turn their nose in disgust at the addictions of others without even acknowledging that their own addiction is equally as deadly. Do we see in these the same symptoms? The craving? The possession? The “joy?” The consumption? Indeed, who is the more deceived?
It was for precisely this reason that Jesus gave himself on the cross. So that we could be free from the possession of sin. He was resurrected so that we could walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Indeed, to habitually fail to examine our own lives, to habitually fail to reflect upon what God has done for us when we were possessed in sin, is an addiction of an equally worse and deceptive kind. It is equally being in the possession of sin. What greater triumph could Satan have than to cause us to cease to examine our own personal sin on a daily basis and the relationship of forgiveness that we have with God as a result of the vicarious sacrifice of Christ? What greater triumph than to deceive us into thinking that our sinful situation is any better than that of others?
I learned a little more about the love of God and Jesus so many years ago when I tried to help a Christian who was a practicing alcoholic, because I saw in my experience something that God must see in all humanity—a great and tremendous need for salvation from sin. Not just of those with visible addictions, but those of us with the invisible one’s as well. God once told Samuel, “… for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). We may look outwardly and see all kinds of wrongs and evils in this world, and even do so justifiably. However, if we look outward while failing to look inward, our sin is merely a matter of perception, and that of an equally deceptive sort. May God bless us with HIS eyes so as to look upon the things that we ought to look upon, both outward and inward, in our daily walk with Him.