Psalm 51:4 “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight….” (King David addressing God)
I stopped on this verse today as I was reading in the Psalms. I think, many times, it can feel we have sinned against another person, or ourselves, and I suppose in a sense, we have…but before it is about us failing another human being, ourselves included, our sin is sin because it is our nature that has “missed the mark,” or “gone awry” you could say, of holiness, of perfection before our Creator, a Holy God. There would be no existence of sin without a moral code, and no other place does a moral code come from than from a perfect Holy God, who has made all things and can therefore judge things rightly, righteously, where we cannot. He sees and knows all things. We do not. Our moral compass comes from Him and since we see, physically, each other, it can feel that we are primarily sinning against one another. We feel the hurts, pains, betrayals, and consequences of our sin against others and ourselves…the ripple effects of having “gone awry” from the perfect order of God that we were designed to live in, His Kingdom. His kingdom that is not a matter of talk, but of power (1 Corinthians 4:20) – power to overcome sin and darkness, evil…corruption… and His kingdom is not a matter of “meat or drink” (the physical), but of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 14:17). When we sin, fall short of the perfection of God, we sin against Him alone, and consequently hurt and injure those around us.
BUT, let’s get back to the idea that many times we take others’ sins personally.
Is it not true that we can feel we have been sinned against by another, but there has really been no actual sin at all, before the Righteous Judge, God himself? Perhaps we have perceived that the person has wronged us because of our own expectations. Perhaps we feel we have been sinned against because someone hurt our feelings. Doesn’t the truth hurt sometimes (or a lot of the time, haha), but is actually what we need… is actually righteousness….. is something we may call sin based on our own moral code, but is actual righteous in the courts of Heaven?
Or, let’s say we try to remedy a “sin,” based on not wanting to sin against another human being, trying to “be better,” “nicer,” conflict, pain avoidance…pride preserving (??? – taking credit for being “so good”). We may have the right motive in not wanting to hurt others, but will we actually have the power to change on the level that it needs to happen? If we merely try to change because of a human being we have hurt, is that remedy of the sin?
For example, what if you are dating someone who doesn’t want you to drink alcohol to excess, let’s say (which isn’t a bad request/recommendation on the part of the person you are dating). Most of the time, someone who really likes to drink (or have any other substance abuse problem) probably won’t drop the habit for another human being, even if they wanted to, but let’s say they did, because the desire to be with the person is that strong. They’d “do anything” to be with this new person…and I suppose in congruence with this blog post, they would stop “sinning against them,” or in other words, follow their “moral code” and or “rules” of engagement.
So, you quit drinking!… But why? You stopped doing something they found to be a bad thing, but is it a bad thing? Is it because it was just a “sin” or “offense” towards them? Or is it truly a “sin” before God? In this case, excessive drinking would be a sin before God because it is dishonoring and toxic to the body that you’ve been given (along with a host of other issues that we all are very familiar with that go along with this kind of abuse). Our bodies are gifts from God. They are to be a Holy Temple for His Holy Spirit. Our bodies hold our very beings while walking this earth and heavily influence our productivity, mood, and many other things simply because of the way that we treat them/take care of them, or lack thereof. It is also clearly stated in scripture that we are not to be drunk.
BUT My point in saying all of that is because if THAT TRUTH isn’t recognized, the truth that the excessive drinking was not just a “sin” against the person you were dating that asked you not to do so, but that it was a sin before God first and foremost, then when that dating situation ends, does that moral code/rule (no more drinking) disappear? Because that person is no longer there to “sin” against, so it must not be sin anymore right? Or, let’s say the relationship deepens so you feel safer to reincorporate things that once offended your potential love interest and you’re tired of “white knuckling” this “sin” out of your life to appease the wishes of another…in the beginning it was easier because you knew it would have sabotaged your efforts and chances of being with this person. But now, they love you and it would be harder for them to leave, even in the presence of your reincorporated, supposedly “dealt with,” “sin,” and you still don’t desire to hurt them, but the root issues of the drinking still hasn’t been dealt with. What is revealed is that the nature inside of you never changed, and the motivation to be different to receive a benefit for doing so had dwindled and doesn’t seem to be as necessary to uphold/less risk in losing this person now, thus, the “sin” continues…..because the truth is, it was never dealt with in the right way in the first place. Simply wanting to not “sin” against another person was not powerful enough to change your nature. It was not recognized as sin against God and God alone before it is sin against another person (although, YES, sin hurts and affects all those we encounter, it affects everything!). This also applies to us wanting to change for ourselves as well. Why is it so hard to change even for ourselves? We may try, but until we come to grips with the fact that all of our wrongdoing is ultimately against a Holy God, we don’t stand a chance against our sin nature.
In Psalm 51, which is where the verse above is taken from, King David is repenting before God after he had committed adultery by taking another man’s wife for himself, impregnating her, trying to then cover it up, and when he couldn’t, had the husband killed. Talk about some sinning against other people. YET, He states here in the Psalm, that before God alone had He sinned. If he had kept before Him, the Lord, the righteous laws of God, these sins would not have happened in the first place. For forgiveness and remedy at the heart level to happen, David had to come clean and bear His soul before God, for the forgiveness of God, for the healing power of God to change Him, to set Him straight.
When we see sin in our lives, even when we have truly sinned and it has hurt others badly, we must take it before God and confess our sin before HIM. He will lead and guide us in what to do with others if there is an action to take, but the first step is recognizing that the only One who can change us and cultivate in us the love that doesn’t sin against one another, is to go to the One who can change our nature. God himself.
When we try to change for any other reason…there will always be a reason to change what “sin” is and whether I’ve sinned or not…. We must recognize that these things need to be addressed before God – not others opinions, ideas, moral codes…not even our own. Our flesh will twist and turn, change and manipulate what “sin” is to meet its needs and uphold its pride.
We sin before God alone and before God alone do we stand and are changed from the inside out.
Matthew 22:37-39 “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Romans 13:8-10, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”