Cross Walk Devotional: The Real Picture of Sin

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We rarely see sin for what it is.  It never looks quite as ugly to us as it does to God.  And our tolerance for it—whether in ourselves or in others—is always greater than His.  Think about it. He has always had a zero-tolerance policy. Sin math is simple. Sin=death.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a white lie or a grievous deception.  Sin is sin. The evil one, however, through temptation taking advantage of our sinful nature, never paints it in the ugly light that it truly is.  Whether it’s justification of our selfishness, recasting gossip in the name of trying to figure out how we can “help” brother or sister so and so, calling living together with someone outside of the marriage covenant a “good way to find out if we are compatible”, or one of the countless ways Hollywood tries to influence our thinking by continuing to push the boundaries of what we consider normal and no longer sinful.  Regardless of how we try to make it look good and ok, it just isn’t. It’s ugly. It’s despicable. It’s terrible. Just look at how Paul describes the life of sin to the Colossians (3:5-8) as he encourages them to put away this former way of life. Nothing positive or nice about this.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

During this season leading up to Easter, it has struck me more than ever before just how ugly it truly is.  And the fact that there was one moment in history—the pivotal moment of all time—when it was truly seen for what it was. Not only did the cross represent the atonement of the sins of the world as they were all placed upon Christ the unblemished and sinless lamb of God.  I think the very act of the crucifixion was the representation of the true picture of sin. Not only did Jesus bear our sin, but he was the very target of all sin in that moment. It seems that part of bearing that sin was that all humanity directed its collective anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, idolatry, you name it, towards the son of God in that moment.  How else does it make any sense that they all pleaded with Pilate to crucify the Lord Jesus and let the murderer and thief Barabbas go free to roam the streets (Luke 23:18-21)?  The sinless Jesus was tortured, beaten and humiliated, his body torn and broken, his blood shed for us.  Indeed, He was led like a lamb to the slaughter (Is 53:7) in the sense that he accepted it as Father’s will, but this sacrifice was anything but merciful.

And in this moment, when sin was exposed for what it truly is, Jesus is despised and rejected.  The scene was far too awful to look upon.

“He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” Is 53:3

But the good news is that just as sin was exposed for what it truly is, so was the grace and mercy of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.  The extravagant, reckless, amazing, wonderful grace—truly scandalous and far too good to comprehend or even imagine. Just as Barabbas is acquitted and set free, all of humanity for all ages to come is given the very same opportunity.  

So the next time you are tempted by sin’s deceitfulness, by all its attractive edges and the alluring invitation which promises only fulfillment and satisfaction with no glimpse into the shame and brokenness it brings, remember the true picture of sin as exposed on the cross, pray and ask the Spirit for help in weakness and you will find the strength for mercy and deliverance (Heb 4:14-16).

You are loved!

Kevin Henegar