Category Archives: Sin

A New Year Virtue in Every Old Year Vice – Fulfilling Good Needs without a Bad Twist

There’s a virtue buried deep within the vices that we love. Good needs and virtues are often twisted into something more or less than it should be.

God gave you desires and these good gifts get twisted and distorted and buried in the vice. Embedded in the worst of things is a remnant of the best of things (Meyers, Virtue in the Vice). In fact, the vices we love are really God’s good gifts with a twist.

Embedded in pride is the gift of worthiness. You have been created by God and this gives your life intrinsic value. But don’t start believing that you are God. God never intended for you to be God; that’s worthiness with a twist. So many bow down to the God of “Me”, with the ultimate expression of idolatry being atheism. I don’t want God to exist because I am god over my life.

Embedded in envy is the gift of emulation. It is good to imitate a good example. God has especially gifted others to show us the way. But it isn’t good to dislike God’s goodness to someone else and dismiss God’s goodness to me (Ortberg, Love Beyond… 157). Emulation has morphed into envy when that happens. Celebrity worship and the pedestal complex, where we pore over the minutae of the lives of others, breeds discontentment;this need for emulation turns into envy.

Embedded in anger is the gift of passion, a motivation to do something. We’ve all read stories where little, senior ladies lift cars off of trapped people. Anger mixed with fear had something to do with that. We’ve also heard about motorists who kill another motorist for cutting them off in traffic. When we sullenly replay the agitating events of life over and over in our minds…and lash out in some overt act of violence, then it is logical to assume that our God-given passion for justice has mutated into revenge and even rebellion.

Embedded in sloth is the gift of contentment. But contentment with a twist, morphs into a lack of motivation to do anything because my life really doesn’t matter or count for much, or so we think.

Embedded in lust is the gift of intimacy. God has given us each other to be open and vulnerable with, to love and to be loved, and to share our sexuality with another person with whom we will spend our lives. Our craving for intimacy can become so great that we throw off all restraints and totally give ourselves to the pursuit of the human body in consuming lust and we miss intimacy.

Embedded in gluttony is the gift of communion and nourishment. God has given us an appetite that we are to satisfy with food – preferably good food. But the craving for communion and nourishment can easily morph into eating for the wrong reasons in an attempt to satisfy a deeper soul hunger.

Embedded in greed is the gift of stewardship. God has blessed us with so many things to take care of and use for our enjoyment and His glory. But stewardship morphs into greed when we want to hoard these blessings, stockpile them, and pursue them to the exclusion of all else.

Are you feeling worthy or proud? Are you emulating good examples or envying others? Are you angry over the right things? Are you content? Do you know intimacy deeply, or do you settle for lust? Why do you eat what you eat? What are you doing with what you have?

Every New Year virtue you aspire to, comes with an Old Year twist. Watch out for the twists.



Filed under Atheism, Christian Worldview, New Year, Seven Deadly Sins, Sin

The Line Between Good and Evil Goes Straight Through the Human Heart

Theism (as a worldview) clearly teaches that we are not good; that you and I are capable of heinous acts, and play dumb before God as if we didn’t know what we were doing. No one is truly good, no one – no Christian nor atheist is truly good. The difference is that the Christian (if true to his worldview) will admit this presence of evil within himself; the atheist will not (if he is consistent with his worldview.)

In 1960, Israeli undercover agents orchestrated the daring kidnapping of one of the worst of the Holocaust masterminds, Adolf Eichmann. After capturing him in his South American hideout, they transported him to Israel to stand trial. There, prosecutors called a string of former concentration camp prisoners as witnesses. One was a small haggard man name Yehiel Dinur, who had miraculously escaped death in Auschwitz. On his day to testify, Dinur entered the courtroom and stared at the man in the bulletproof glass booth – the man who had murdered Dinur’s friends, personally executed a number of Jews, and presided over the slaughter of millions more. As the eyes of the two men met – victim and murderous tyrant – the courtroom fell silent, filled with the tension of the confrontation. But no one was prepared for what happened next. Yehiel Dinur began to shout and sob, collapsing to the floor. Was he overcome by hatred…by the horrifying memories…by the evil incarnate in Eichmann’s face? No. As he later explained in a riveting “60 Minutes” interview, it was because Eichmann was not the demonic personification of evil Dinur had expected. Rather, he was an ordinary man, just like anyone else. And in that instant, Dinur came to the stunning realization that sin and evil are the human condition. “I was afraid about myself,” Dinur said. “I saw that I am capable to do this…exactly like he… Eichmann is in all of us” (Colson, Body).” There’s an Eichmann in all of us. And life becomes an Auschwitz in a world without God.

But the good news is that in Theism, we “cosmic orphans” to borrow a phrase, can come home to life and meaning and hope because God hangs on to fallen creation and works to salvage it (badness and all) in the person of Christ. Evil has not made us worthless, but only lost and ruined. Yet, God has refused to scrap us. In Jesus, He hangs on to his original fallen creation and begins to work to salvage it. “God doesn’t make junk and He will not junk what He has made (Wolters).” To the theist, life is worth something, valued, and highly treasured.


Filed under Atheism, Christianity, Sin, Theism

There Are No Atheists – Just Idolaters

One who worships idols.
One who blindly or excessively admires or adores another.

There are no atheists, just idolaters. Humans will worship something; the imprint for worship is stamped on every heart. For atheists, they have no one to worship but themselves, excessively admiring and adoring themselves. This is not a new idea. Paul talked about it in the book of Acts, chapter 17.

The Athenians were using all of these philosophies and religions as much to hide from God as to find Him. They were looking for reasons to be an intellectually and spiritually fulfilled rebel. But Paul is still tender…

“Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you,” says Paul.

Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

There’s this inner void in our hearts. We grope for things to fill it. It’s not the wanting and the reaching however that’s wrong. God has been ripped from our hearts. A glitch is wired into the system of every heart. We are born not just rebels, but rebels who are reaching out for something. So the groping, reaching, and grasping – these are not the problem: it’s what we grope, reach, and grasp for instead of God that is the problem. Reaching for true purpose, peace, and joy is what you should be doing. We mustn’t be ashamed of the reaching.

The Bible teaches us that God is a hidden God. But He has given you clues you can follow, pieces of the puzzle. If we had no clues or pieces, we would never find God. But God has given us just enough evidence so that those who want Him can have him. Those who want to follow the clues will find Him. Reach out to Him.

Some question: if there is a God, why does he allow people to live in open defiance of Him? The answer: Love and mercy. He made us. We belong to Him. But He will not make us love Him back. He asks us to repent – to change our mind about who is God. For those who refuse to change their mind, He will eventually give the rebellious what they want – total separation from Him. It’s a form of judgment – giving them what they want; it’s called hell in the Bible.

Says Paul Acts 17:31: For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” 32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others (NIV).

Among the many things that could be said about what Dr. Luke, the author of this book records here, it certainly underscores the fact that we are rebels without a cause. In fact, we will even make a shrine to an “unknown god” rather than bow to the God who has so graciously created us, loved us, redeemed us, and who restores us. We are rebels without a cause and this is expressed in the form of idolatry.

Paul makes a similar point in a letter he wrote to people who lived in Rome. The letter is called Romans, but it reads like a book on theology. Listen to his words:

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

God has revealed Himself in what He has made. If you never hear a sermon or read the Bible, you can still discover a lot about God by looking at what He has made – clues that lead you to Him. Look at the clues long enough and they begin to look back at you in the form of a God who made you and your world. Look closely at your world and God will whisper to you what He’s like. Mountains, lakes, oceans, clouds, wind, rain, people, and sunshine’s warmth strike a deep chord, “Yes, there is a God.”

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

The ancients knew God but they suppressed it by their wickedness and rebellion.

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

How could we do this? Paul does not preach against atheism; he’s preaches against idolatry. The implication is that everyone will worship some kind of deity. If you refuse that point, you yourself are your own deity. To say that you are an atheist (one who does not believe in God) does not mean that you believe in nothing; it means you are liable to believe in anything – anything can and will become your god. We’ll fall in love with animals and nature because we have fallen out of love with God. We will even fall in love with ourselves.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

In my opinion, the greatest tragedy of all is to surrender ourselves so totally to our gods, that God eventually gives us up to it. It becomes our lord and master. It consumes us. We wind up used, wasted and discarded by the very thing that has charmed us.

25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

If we deny our rebellion, self-deceit sets in. I rule over my own life. No one will tell me how to live my life. But still we are hardwired for worship. So even in our rebellious state, we reach out to worship and bond with something.

Among the many things that could be said about what Paul wrote, it once again underscores the fact that we are rebels without a cause. In fact, we will go to such extremes that we will worship just about anything, so long as it’s not the one true God. We are rebels without a cause. We are not just imperfect people who need growth, but we are rebels who need to lay down our arms, idolaters who need to tear down our shrines.

These words from the Bible reveal that our fallen hearts are self-asserting, God-defying, and self-deifying. Self-worship is the religion of our time. We are a rebel race. We have bought into the notion that the serpent suggested to Eve, “God is holding out on you.” Take control of your own life. Arrange for the life you want. If God is holding out on you, then you hold out on God. And whatever you do, keep God out of your life.

There are no atheists – just idolaters.


Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, God, Idolatry, Rebellion, Sin

Sin – God’s Gifts with a Twist

Paul said in Romans “I do what I hate and I avoid what I love (7:19).” We know what’s right but we won’t do it. It’s easier to do wrong than it is to do right. This tendency drives all of us to brokenness and self-destruction. We are sinners and by that I mean that we have a chronic condition. We don’t reveal Gods glory like we once did, nor do our lives serve his purposes. We contradict His design for how things ought to be because our good hearts have become depraved and distorted. The issue of sin is all about distortion or a perversion of the good. For example, God calls us to work and be productive in order to make a better world; we twist the call into workaholism. God calls us to enjoy the gift of sex; we have twisted it and distorted it into an act of selfish gratification and lust, rather than intimacy with a life partner. God calls us to enjoy food and things; we are now suffocating in our stuff and shortening our life-spans because of our eating habits. God calls us to love. Love is a good thing, but perverted, possessive love results in pride, envy, rage and control over others. Insufficient love results in sloth and apathy; we don’t love the right things with passion – like God, His Word, His World, His Priority. Excessive love of things in the world leads to greed, gluttony, and lust (Rowland, The Sins We Love: Embracing Brokeness, Hoping for Wholeness7). I like what God has provided, but I want more. So sin is a distortion and a perversion of the good – it’s God’s gifts with a twist. It’s right to be hungry, but not be a glutton. It’s right to desire intimacy and sexual relationship, but not to consume someone for your pleasure alone. It’s right to renew and recreate, but not to be given to laziness and sloth. It’s right to love your work, but not to be a workaholic. It’s right to acquire things, but not to serve things.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sin