Saturday, November 3, 2012

Deal Breaker Sins

If you think for a moment, you probably can come up with a list of what many consider, but nobody calls, "deal breaker" sins. Your list is probably similar to my list. Deal breakers are the sins that one absolutely must avoid to be accepted by most Christians. Here's my partial list: homosexuality, adultery, murder, abortion, illegal drug use, etc. Congratulations to me. I'm avoiding the deal breakers.

To be sure, I've always heard and even repeated that a sin is a sin is a sin, but I have been guilty of practically categorizing sins while claiming to believe that they are equal. Oh, I'd never admit it, but I sure categorized them in my mind something like this... The deal breakers are really bad. The ones I'm guilty of are not so bad; they're just weaknesses. (I now believe and admit to believing that sins have different weights. More on this later.) I certainly want to press for the ideal of having no sins, but I am weak and stubborn and proud and end up sinning again and again. Somehow, though, I'm avoiding the deal breakers. I need desperately to realize that I'm avoiding these deal breakers by God's grace, not by myself.

I've never said this out loud, but if I'm honest with myself, I've thought it. Avoiding those deal breakers must make me a better person than someone who commits the deal breakers, right? Again, I never would have said or written that. Has it ever crossed your mind that you're a better person than a homosexual or a better person than a drug addict? And, a murderer? Surely I'm a better person than a murderer, right?  Am I the only one who has thought with hubris and righteous indignation when I hear that a man has cheated on his wife, "How could he do something like that?"

Then, it hit me square in the nose and I said it out loud to my wife, "I'm not a better person than David." David committed two of the deal breakers on my list. Please read 2 Samuel 11. How did David, such a good man and king, such a talented musician, such a respectful servant to King Saul, such a valiant warrior, such a great poet, such a faithful young man, such a loyal friend to Jonathan... How did David, a man with so many virtues, fall to the point of committing these deal breakers?

When I look carefully at this story and carefully at myself, I realize that I'm not above committing a deal breaker. I have the same evil desires in me that David had in him that led to his great fall. Look briefly at what led to David's fall.
  1. Laziness. Why did David stay in Jerusalem while Joab and his army went to fight? (2 Sam. 11:1) Perhaps I'm reading too much into this next verse, but why is David just getting out of bed in the evening? (2 Sam. 11:2) Has he been in bed all day or was he taking a nap?
  2. Lust. David, it seems, was walking about looking for something to fill his idle time when he saw Bathsheba. I don't see anything in the text that indicts or exonerates Bathsheba. Her role could have been anywhere from seductress to rape victim. The text does not say. The Bible presents this as David's sin, so let's focus on that. David inquired, sent for her, and took her (2 Sam. 11:3-4). He indulged his desire.
  3. Pride. Most of 2 Samuel 11 is telling of David trying to cover up his sin. David will stop at nothing to preserve his righteous appearance. He misrepresents the reason for Uriah's visit. (To report about the war?) He gets Uriah drunk. Then, he murders Uriah. This dishonesty, drunkenness, and murder were all attempts to cover up his sin, to avoid shame.
I confess that I have not yet conquered laziness, lust, and pride. In fact, I struggle with each of those most every day, among several other evil desires. The difference between me and David (or me and any adulterer or murderer) is that my evil desires manifest themselves in other ways that aren't deal breakers.

I'm tempted by laziness every day. Sometimes I'm distracted at work. Sometimes I look for shortcuts or plagiarize. I sometimes neglect to help those in need because it requires work. I indulge in too much TV. I sit idly far too often. I even seek idle time. Choosing idle time over productive time was the beginning of David's fall. 

We live in a sex-obsessed society that glorifies lust. We don't have to look for things to incite these desires; they find us. We will confront strong desires for the forbidden, and this isn't limited only to sexual desires. It happens to everyone. The desire for the forbidden is one of our enemy's strongest and oldest weapons (Genesis 3:6). It seems very dangerous to me to think that I have it conquered or that I can legislate away a desire for the forbidden. Most every day I notice things that are desirable, but that I shouldn't have. And those desires are both dangerous and strong. David was enticed by the forbidden, even though (or maybe exactly because) he knew it was forbidden.

Over and over I struggle with pride. Even my near automatic categorization of others' sins is ugly pride. My sins are weaknesses. Others' sins are deal breakers. How often do I paint myself white after a mistake? How often do I say something hurtful and then try to soften it by saying "I didn't mean it that way?" How often do I avoid apologizing? I want people to like me and think I'm good, and sometimes, my desire to make myself look good ends up in harm to someone else. David was willing to harm and even kill Uriah to avoid looking bad.

I hope my description of my own struggles with the same evil desires David had was foreign to every reader, but I suspect it was not. I have every one of those evil desires that David had, and I believe that David was a better man than I am. So why are my sins not as bad as his? The key difference between me and David is that my desires aren't manifesting themselves in the form of deal breakers. So, that brings me to the questions I want to ask. Are my sins really not that bad? Are others' sins really worse than mine? Can sins be categorized? If so, what is the worst sin?

Stay tuned. I'll look more into those questions in the next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment