Do not plunge headlong
by the road of mortals,
on which you see for many
shipwreck has occurred.
Step between the nets
with hesitant feet,
for by those nets the rest
we see were caught up unawares.
- Columbanus, On the World’s Impermanence, Irish, 7th century
My son, do not walk in the way with them,
Keep your foot from their path;
For their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed blood.
Surely, in vain the net is spread
In the sight of any bird;
But they lie in wait for their own blood,
They lurk secretly for their own lives.
- Proverbs 1.15-18
Christians today are ambivalent about sin.
First, there are those really bad sins, you know, the ones other people commit. Those we condemn and avoid. Mostly.
Then there are those sins that don’t seem to hurt anyone, are mostly private and nobody’s business, the sins that everyone commits. The sins I commit. These we have learned to tolerate, if not indulge.
The problem with harboring sin of any sort is twofold. First, you become inured to sin, so that you can’t even recognize it when you’re in its snare. Second, you cut yourself off from God, because He will not hear your prayers if you knowingly harbor sin in your heart (Ps. 66.18).
Yeah, that can’t be a good thing, right?
A college instructor told me a story some time ago that I found astonishing. One of his students was found to be guilty of plagiarizing in a paper, but when he confronted her, she expressed shock that her mother-in-law would do such a thing! She didn’t see anything wrong with letting her mother-in-law do her homework, but she was shocked – shocked! – to think that she would plagiarize.
Oh yes, and this student was a believer.
And that’s the point I’m trying to make: We are becoming a community of Christians who are no longer able to recognize sin. So we keep stepping in its traps and getting yanked up into uncomfortable situations where we never expected to be. And the more that happens, the more comfortable those formerly uncomfortable situations become. And the less it troubles us to find ourselves in them.
Only 46% of all those who describe themselves as “born again” believe in absolute truth, according to George Barna. So the majority of us don’t recognize sinful actions as such, and this is why we are constantly falling through temptation into disobedience and rebellion, without understanding what’s happening.
This is the result of neglecting the Word of God in general and the Law of God in particular. Through the Law comes the knowledge of sin, Paul explained (Rom. 7.7). The more we hide God’s Law in our heart, and wallpaper the rooms of our minds with its teaching, the less likely we will be to blink at sin when it rises up in our path.
If we are not faithfully listening to the voice of God saying, “This is the way; walk ye in it,” then we won’t recognize the snares and nets of sin that strew our path (Prov. 1.17). We’ll just go crashing on and getting tripped up by all manner of worldly obstacles, and we’ll be no Kingdom use to anyone as long as this continues.
What about you? Is the Word of God, including His Law, the lamp unto your feet and light on your path it ought to be (Ps. 119.105)?
1. Why is it important that we keep short accounts with the Lord regarding sin?
2. When you find yourself in sin of any kind, what should you do?
Psalm 19.7-11 (St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
The Law of God is perfect, His testimony sure;
the simple man God’s wisdom learns, the soul receives its cure.
God’s Word is right, and His command is pure, and truth imparts;
He makes our eyes to understand; with joy He fills our hearts.
The fear of God is cleansing, forever shall it last.
His judgments all are true and just, by righteousness held fast.
O seek them more than gold most fine, than honey find them sweet;
be warned by every word and line; be blessed with joy complete.
Lord, help me to watch my steps today as I…
The Law of God in your life
You can add daily meditation in God’s Law to your devotions (cf. Ps. 1) by ordering a copy of The Law of God from our online store (click here). In this little volume we have gathered all the civil laws of the Old Testament under the particular one of the Ten Commandments they illustrate, so that, by reading just a page a day, you can regularly work your way through the entire Law of God. And if you’re still not convinced of the value of God’s Law for your life as a Christian, order a copy of The Ground for Christian Ethics, and learn from this lively dialog what the Bible teaches about the Law and the life of faith (click here).
Don’t miss this opportunity to order copies of A Mighty Fortress for your Christmas gifts. For the next two weeks, we’re offering this book-length exposition of Luther’s hymn at a greatly reduced price. Use this book to get the word out about Christ and His Kingdom!
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T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Walker, p. 185.