Dealing With Sin When It Shows Up
Isn’t it strange how regardless of age, you’re always figuring out new things about yourself?
You can’t ride spinny rides anymore at amusement parks. Brussel sprouts don’t taste as close to dirt as you once thought. You’d choose a night at home under a blanket before going out any day of the week, and staying up past midnight sounds like the absolute worst. Crafting really is fun. You don’t really know why you can’t stop watching that show even after Netflix has asked you twice, “Are you still watching?”.
Self-realization comes in many forms but always seems to pop up when I am the least aware. I feel like I’m at a point where I feel comfortable understanding “me.” But then I deal with some unforeseen circumstance, and then something new surfaces.
It’s like that old adage I grasped from Shrek (yes, THE Shrek) - “Ogres are like onions, and onions have layers.” I’m full of all kinds of layers, and it’s life that seems to bring them to the surface.
Sometimes the layers are harmless, like when I realized I don’t really like pizza. I know, I know. Most people love pizza, and there are those people who love it so much they would eat it all the time while wearing pizza socks or whatever. But, I think pizza is boring, and it would never be my first choice. It was pretty freeing to say it a few years back, and now I don’t have to pretend to want pizza every weekend with the people in my life.
But a lot of times, the layers are harmful. We peel them back, and they reveal an ugliness that can be shocking. It might show a tendency to be a liar, a new addiction, just plain old meanness, secret desires of lust, passivity, incomplete obedience, etc.
And all we want to do is put that layer right back where we found it and pretend the ugliness doesn’t exist.
Unfortunately, though, sin doesn’t disappear if we ignore it.
So what do we do when sin shows up? When we’re sailing through life, and it produces a layer of ugliness that needs to be dealt with?
For a little guidance, let’s go to the pages of Ezra. In chapter 9, the nation of Israel uncovers a sin within their body that polluted them right up to the leadership. Here was Ezra’s reaction to the sin:
“As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled. And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God, saying…” Ezra 9:3,5
If you’re like me, I found this to be a tad overdramatic. Tearing your clothes and pulling out your hair? Yikes!
But if you look across the entirety of scripture, this was the common reaction to sin. It is everywhere. And because we know repetition is a way to communicate Truth to us, we can pull out something incredibly important here.
I should have a deep, penetrating reaction to the sin I uncover in my life.
It should hit me hard. Like Ezra, I should express emotion over the ugliness, and I should immediately hit my knees and spread my hands out to God in an act of surrender and repentance.
Which brings me to another Truth to grasp from Ezra - the next thing he did was pray. Here are some highlights from his prayer in chapter 9, which gives some more direction in dealing with sin.
“O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.” Ezra 9:6
“And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments…” Ezra 9:10
Here we see Ezra being completely transparent with God. When I uncover sin, I have to pray honest prayers. I have to be forthright with the Lord about what I have found about myself. I have to show surrender by acknowledging God’s proper position of authority over me as well as my mournful state over my sin.
“For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia…” Ezra 9:9
“And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this…” Ezra 9:13
I also have to take the blame. I’m the one who sinned and not God. I have to take ownership of my actions and how my actions have consequences. That is true confession.
And at the same time, I can also acknowledge God’s powerful character. That He still loves me and doesn’t forsake me. That He is a gracious God who wants the best for me and will honor my desire to deal with my sin.
After Ezra’s prayer, we see the nation of Israel reconcile with God through repentance.
“While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly. And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law.” Ezra 10:1-3
True repentance looks just like this. The nation of Israel transitioned from mourning to changing their actions. They looked to God’s Word, saw His desire for how to live, and they acted in obedience.
We have to do the same when we uncover the ugliness of our own sin. After I mourn, pray, and confess my sin, there is more to be done. Naming sin isn’t the same as dealing with sin.
I must align myself with the Truth of God’s Word not only in my words and my thoughts but also in my life. I have to act.
As a result, that layer of ugliness is ripped away, and there’s new growth to replace the old flesh.
This happens to me more often than I’d care to admit. I find sin all the time that I would love to ignore. It’s a part of being human to peel back the layers of our worldliness and find new parts of ourselves that are scary or embarrassing.
But it’s a part of being a true believer to take those things captive and remove the layers of ugliness. We’ve been called to a better, higher way of life, and we can’t be dragged down by a nasty sin.
That higher life will allow us to know God better, and the layers of goodness that our Lord intimately understood well before we were born will shine brighter and make a greater impact.
“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:12-14
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook