Monday, December 3, 2012

The Root of All Sin

Our book study is currently reading Respectable Sins: Confronting The Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges.  This has been a very helpful book and has dealt with some very interesting, mostly practical, questions about Christian living.

The chapter we discussed was dealing with the sin of "ungodliness."  Before reading this book I would never have thought there was such a sin, but essentially it is the sin of not loving God above all else.  It is simply not having God in our thoughts in our every day life and not living for His glory or in dependence on Him.

Jerry argues fairly convincingly that ungodliness is the root of all sin.  I think he is on pretty firm ground here as it would be safe to say that the first commandment may be the under girding structure for the other nine.  We discussed the issue of idolatry extending to the present day by way of the turning of our inner desires and affections from God to other things.  In this way, we see that being ungodly as a rule of life is really a transgression of the first commandment in the Ten.

But there are many others who disagree. I believe John Piper is of the opinion that pride is the root of all sin and cites Satan's pride as an example.  Martin Luther cites the sin of unbelief and the lie that we can be righteous ourselves without having Christ's righteousness. 

"... the sin underneath all sins is the lie that we cannot trust the love and grace of Jesus and that we must take matters into our own hands." - Martin Luther

Others say that Money is the root of all sin or that covetousness is the root. "... covetousness as denoting a special sin, is called the root of all sins, in likeness to the root of a tree, in furnishing sustenance to the whole tree." - Thomas Aquinas

Perhaps idolatry is the root of all sin? But whatever the root sin is, if there is one, it is sure that when we have a vibrant and zealous love for God, it will not be possible for us to live ungodly lives.

How can our whole being strain with love and worship towards our God while at the same time we do not think about Him? It can't be. We are either worshiping God or failing to give Him His proper place.

It is not enough for us to fight sin. It is not even enough for us to hate sin.  We must turn our hearts from loving sin to loving God.

The book focused on two practical areas to address the sin of ungodliness: Prayer and Work.

It seems that often our prayers are unbalanced.  Unbalanced in that they are more focused on ourselves and our creature comforts than on God, His kingdom, and the needs of His saints.  It is good and right to bring to God our cares and concerns.  We must do this as an act of dependence on God and because we are in a relationship with our heavenly Father whereby we recognize that all things come from His hands.

But could it be that we are sinfully self-focused in our prayers? Jerry offers a couple examples of Paul's prayers in Colossians 1:9-10 and Ephesians 1 to illustrate the point.  I think the point is well made that we ought to be formulating our prayers to be God-centered and not self-centered.

We discussed prayer and had some helpful suggestions:
1) Use the ACTS acrostic to balance your prayers - Adoration Confession Thanksgiving Supplication
2) Express thanksgiving in your prayers
3) Pray for others to turn from their sins and believe in Jesus
4) Pray for physical and material help for fellow believers

If we want to be more godly, and we spend most of our waking moments at work, it would seem to make sense to focus some effort on being more godly at work.

Helpful suggestions from our discussion:
1) Use your commute time to listen to sermons
2) Be excellent in your work to bring God glory in the workplace
3) Have things at your workstation or place of work to remind you to pray
4) Pray at certain times in the day like Daniel
5) Focus on work 100% at critical and intense times (a surgeon should be completely mentally focused on his work during surgery)

We need to be careful not to view our work as a necessary evil.  Rather, we should be thankful to God for the work He has given us and recognize that the difficulties in our work come from the fall and ultimately are from our own sin.
One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
(Psalm 27:4 ESV) 

Jesus Priceless Treasure - Johann Franck 1655
Tr. Catherine Winkworth 1863

Jesus, priceless treasure, Fount of purest pleasure
Truest friend to me:
Ah, how long in anguish, shall my Spirit languish
Yearning Lord for thee?
Thine I am, O spotless Lamb!
I will suffer naught to hide thee, Naught I ask beside thee

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