Sinful Responses to Sin

Update: In recent weeks (Nov-Dec 2011) Mark Driscoll has gone on record with some explicit claims of continuing revelation. We appreciate Driscoll’s ability to formulate and teach a few aspects of Reformed theology quite well, but we do not in any way agree with the notion that God continues to reveal himself to us apart from His word. Driscoll’s “visions” sound like divinations; we believe this is a dangerous element in his teaching. See THIS POST for more information.

One excellent part of Driscoll/Breshears’ Doctrine is their section on the fall and sin.  I appreciated this short list on p. 168ff about some sinful responses we have to our sinfulness.  Here’s my summary of this section.

1) We minimize our sin. We compare our sin to someone else’s sin and we think ours is tiny compared to his.  We pray pharisee-prayers: I thank you, God, that I’m not like THAT guy….

2) We legitimize our sin. We say God in his grace can use a sin I committed for good, so we don’t portray that sin as a vice.

3) We rationalize our sin. “People who rationalize their sin commonly wear down their listeners by speaking a great deal about their perspective on their motives and the conditions surrounding their sin in an effort to compel others to sympathize with them and thereby excuse them.”  For example, I yelled at my wife because I had a migraine, so it wasn’t really so bad after all.

4) We shift the blame. We follow Eve, we follow Adam by saying it is someone else’s fault that we disobeyed God’s commands.

5) We cause a diversion to avoid our sin. We make sin funny or joke about it so it doesn’t seem so sinful.  This is also called changing the topic or throwing up a smoke screen so people (including ourselves) can’t see our sin.

6) We avoid full and deep confession. “In pride…it is common to only confess a portion of it [sin].”  I can confess my sin of anger, but not my hatred for an enemy I have.

7) We have only worldly grief for our sin. This is when we only regret the consequences of our sin.

8) We pull out the victim card when it comes to sin. “I appear helplessly pitiful and unable to have done otherwise by naming someone… as responsibly for my sin.”  My kids are good at this.  When we catch one punching another in the head, the one with the clenched fist says, “But daddy, he bent my baseball card!”

9) We confess sin outwardly but not inwardly. For example, “I name the sin but do not repent of it and put it to death by God’s grace.”

10) We mis-label sin. There is a tendency today for people to call sin a disease instead of an offense against the living God.  “In the end, speaking of sin as a disease is yet another effort to excuse ourselves and shift the blame for our evil actions away from ourselves.”

Of course, this list is just the beginning of a much longer one.  “Sinful responses to sin are so numerous that an exhaustible list is impossible.”  We need to “continually examine our own responses to sin in an effort to uncover our sin.”

shane lems

sunnyside, wa

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