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Slow Poison

Sin is slow poison.

There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.

   - Psalm 38.3

Come to help me, for the multitude of my inveterate sins have made dense my too guilty heart; they have bent me, perverted me, have blinded me, have twisted me and withered me...

   - Anonymous, Litany of Confession, Irish, 15th century

Sin is a terrible power. It eats away at our affections, poisons our minds, compromises our values, and corrupts our souls.

It’s no wonder the Scriptures command us to hate sin (Ps. 97.10).

We may think we can get by with a little self-indulgent, secret sin or two, but we’re setting ourselves up for disaster at some point. The psalmist described the wearying effects of sin harbored in the soul. It pollutes the whole being, cuts us off from fellowship with God, and deflects our prayers from His holy ears (Ps. 66.18).

The best thing to do with sin is to face up to it, confess it, denounce it, and then set your life on another course entirely.

But sin isn’t much talked about in churches today. Too negative and old fashioned, I suppose. We don’t want people to feel like they’re sinners; we want them to know we accept and love them just as they are.

What, we can’t do both?

Of course we must love even the worst of sinners, but that doesn’t mean we may overlook sin in them any more than we should overlook it in ourselves. Sin is destructive and deadly wherever it lurks, and our calling, in loving our neighbors as ourselves, is to help others escape the clutches and snares of sin with as much fervor and forthrightness as we direct toward ourselves.

The promises of God that lead us to partake of the divine nature will always elude us as long as we regard sin as a light matter. When was the last time you sat in silence, long enough to allow the Spirit to show you the depth of your own sin? Or the Savior to bathe you with His forgiveness and reassuring grace?

Sin is slow poison. Catch it while you can.

Psalm 38.17-22 (Leoni: “The God of Abraham Praise”)
My sins I now confess; my anxious soul relieve!
Thou foes are strong, Lord, heal and bless all who believe!
Forsake me not, O Lord! Repay my foes with wrath.
Stand by me with Your saving Word and guard my path!

Show my any contrary ways in my soul, O Lord, and lead me to overcome evil with good. Adapted from Penitential of Cummean

T. M. Moore, Principal
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[1] Plummer, Litanies, p. 5.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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