Links Daily Devotional

Dealing with Sin

Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”? (Proverbs 20:9, NIV)

Golfers, of all people, should have a keen sense of their fallenness. We sin so regularly.

Sin, you may have previously been taught, stems from the Greek expression for missing the mark, as an archer whose arrow lands outside the target area. Golfers are more prevalent than archers these days, so perhaps we are the ones who can best carry forward the understanding of sin. Surely we know what it means to miss the ideal.

When we step off the golf course and into other walks of life, we may be more reluctant to admit our failures, but we know they are there. They show up in our thoughts, our words, our actions. They manifest themselves in secret and in public, alone and in our relationships. We may be defenders of the Ten Commandments, but we are too frequently transgressors of them, too—raising up idols, demeaning God, mixing the common with the holy (and not only on a day we might call the Sabbath), dishonoring our parents, lusting outside our marriage, coveting what is not ours.

We say we believe in God, that we are all for him. We just don’t show it so well. And we know it—even without an accountability group to prod us into confession.

So what do we do about sin?

One answer to that question lies in the idea of resolve. In fact, we have taken it is a regular course of action to set our minds to a task, particularly at a New Year or a Lenten season, and go to work. We beat gluttony with a diet, sloth with exercise. No more wrath—we’ll count to 10!

While such commitments may have an effect on mitigating the “sins” in our life, they do little for eradicating “sin.” They do not accomplish the monumental task of purifying our heart.

David’s repentant Psalm 51 recognized his own inadequacy when it came to the task of cleaning up his heart. No amount of contrition or discipline would do the job. He needed preeminent help: “Create in me a pure heart, O God…” The only source of heart change is God himself. If we want to say to God, “I have kept my heart pure,” we must first say to him, “Lord, make it so.”

We do well to recognize before we close, though, that a pure heart does indeed lead to what we might call “clean hands.” David continued his thought this way: “…and renew a steadfast spirit in me.” The discipline for righteousness comes from God in the same way that a pure heart does. He is the source of both our motivation and our movement. There is no question, then, where we should turn in turning from our sin.

Jeff Hopper
April 22, 2014
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