Sin Again or Rejoice Again
May 30, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Last week we spent some time reflecting on the “Cycle of the Judges,” a pattern repeated throughout the OT book of Judges. At the heart of this pattern is the return to sin. There are parallels between this cycle we find in Judges and our own lives. We “forget” like the Israelites of the OT and fall into patterns that cause us to drift away from the Lord. We need his continual renewing ministry of the Word and Sacrament.
One of the most convicting words in this “Cycle of Judges” is the word “again.” It is used frequently in the repeated phrase, “And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (4:1). Bible scholar, Dale Ralph Davis, reflects on the use of this word:
“It tells us something about sin. It is difficult to be creative in sin; there’s a certain monotony about it; most all of it has been done before; it is simply that we do the same thing again (v. 1). Sin is a boring routine, not a fresh excitement. The fast lane becomes an old rut. Evil never lends itself to originality. Hence these are two problems: the slavery and staleness of sin” (Judges: Such a Great Salvation, p. 72).
This is a fascinating insight, which impacts our wrestling with personal sin.
- Victory over sin comes with seeing the truth of sin. The boringness of sin ought to awaken us to the futility of sin. The monotony of sin ought to feed our hatred of sin. If there is a particular sin which ensnares you, take time to reflect on the emptiness and futility of that sin. Does it ever really bring true, lasting satisfaction?
- Sin does get creative by compounding sin upon sin. While I agree with Davis that “sin is a boring routine,” I would go further to say that sin does not stop trying. Sin grows and compounds in attempts to tantalize. One sin becomes boring and unsatisfying, but it leads to deeper, more complicated and involved sins. The story of Ted Bundy gives testimony to this reality. He speaks about his problem with lust and how, eventually, pornography did not satisfy. His sin grew into a spree of rape and murder in the 1970s. This is a similar downward spiral that we witness in Judges. This is why it is so urgent to take our sin seriously, even if it is “boring” and “uncreative.”
- The thrill of the Gospel is the antidote. Sin is boring, but in the presence of God “there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). The apostle Paul shares his discovery of this joy when he compares his sinful pursuits with Christ: “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:7-8). This is how the cycle is broken: finding a superior, truly-satisfying joy. Therefore, Paul commands: “Rejoice in the Lord, again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).
There’s that word “again” again. The routine of rejoicing in the Lord, celebrating his astonishing and infinite grace, never grows old or boring. God’s salvation is far from uncreative. May you be able to join the psalmist in saying: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Ps. 42:5-6).