Monday, January 18, 2010


(NB: If you're reading this on Facebook, the original post is from my blog) There has been a recent media explosion in Northern Ireland which has rippled around the world. A recurring theme on a vindictive radio and press has been one of wrongs done, the hypocrisy of saying one thing but doing another, and so on. A vicious media, in NI, the UK and the US, loves nothing more than the mistakes of a prominent Christian.

You don't have to be saved/converted too long before you realise that sin continues to have a grip on your life - of temptation, thoughts, inclinations, motives... which, unchecked, can all too easily turn into actions. Someone told me many years ago that "when the light gets brighter, the shadows get darker". There's a lot of truth in that.

The Bible's idea of sanctification (after conviction, repentance and salvation) is one of gradually becoming more and more like Christ, having the creases ironed out in a life-long process which (due to our own weaknesses and failings) is more like a rollercoaster than a constant uphill journey. Every believer I know understands this full well, and struggles with different forms of sin more or less every day. As it says in 1 John 1 v 8: "If we say, we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

As the world, whether media, family, friends, neighbours or colleagues, looks on at the lives of Christians they can see plenty of evidence of residual sinfulness, and of our spectacular failure to be consistently Christlike. I know myself too well to pretend otherwise. The end reaction is often "well, if that's how Christians behave..."

Part of the problem, I think, is that Christians all to easily slide into lazy and inaccurate language and thereby fool both ourselves and our fellow believers - which then creates a completely false picture to the non-Christian world around us. We talk - and especially sing - about "our sins being taken away", or sins being "washed away". And so the false notion of having no sin in our lives creeps into our heads and takes root. But the idea of "sinless perfection" is a nonsense, and a heresy.

Christians - those who have a simple faith in Jesus - need to daily remind ourselves and those around us that we are not sin-free, but that our sinfulness has not been removed but forgiven through our complete reliance on what Jesus has done. Jesus came because God loved people despite our sin. For the rest of our lives we're now in a daily battle to keep "the old nature" under control. But sometimes, maybe even a lot of the time, the old nature gets the upper hand.

The clip below is great at about 2.00 "You know what, I'm not a good person, I'm a sinner...":

"Be not proud of race, face, place... or grace." - Charles Spurgeon