In his book, Not the Way Its Supposed to Be, Cornelius Plantinga wrote:
The awareness of sin used to be our shadow. Christians hated sin. They feared it. They fled from it. They grieved over it. Some of our forefathers agonized over their sins. A man who lost his temper might wonder if he could still go to holy communion. A woman who for years envied her more attractive and intelligent sister might wonder if this sin threatened her very salvation.
But that shadow has dimmed. Nowadays the accusation you have sinned is often said with a grin and with a tone that signals an inside joke. At one time, this accusation still had the power to jolt people.
The evidence seems obvious that many even among those who claim to follow Jesus don’t take sin seriously. Even if we do take sin seriously, we tend to only think of it affecting our own relationship with God. We may think we are not hurting anyone else. But whatever a person’s sin, whether it be using pornography, harboring a grudge, or withholding their tithe, that sin often hurts other people. Sin affects not only your relationship with God but is potentially dangerous for other people as well.
When David committed adultery and then murdered the woman's husband to cover up his sin, he repented and was restored to his relationship with God. God continued to use him. He was still called a man after God's own heart, but he could not undo the consequences in his own family.
It's not possible to live a life without sin. But we are foolish to make light of it, and we are foolish to not be aggressively seeking to fight sin in ourselves.
So how do you fight sin? Do you strengthen your anti sin muscles so you can withstand it? No. That's incredibly grim and it won’t work. Rather, the desire to sin must be overwhelmed by a greater desire for something better. Jesus is the most beautiful, the most valuable, the most desirable being in all the universe. When we don't see that, its only because we are blind to what's true. Whatever we want more than him, we are being deceived and if we don't get our heads straight about that, it could result in tragic consequences for ourselves and perhaps for many people around us.
Joshua 7 contains an uncomfortable story you won’t easily shake. It’s a passage we need to help us to develop a healthy fear of the Lord, for “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” You can see the text, outline, and discussion questions for Sunday’s message at Bethany Place on Joshua 7 here.