• Joel Riehle

The Curious Case of Sin

What if sin isn't just "missing the mark", but having the wrong target?

In the 2004 Olympics, an American who was at the top of his game was ready to secure another gold medal. Matthew Emmons would have won another gold medal had his final shots had not been hitting an opponents bullseye instead of his own. He said its only happened to him twice in his whole shooting career of over a decade. It certainly was the most costly.

In Sunday School as a child, I remember the illustration of what sin is. It's like God's plan is the bullseye and I shoot and miss the mark.

But what if sin is more like aiming at the wrong target, not just missing the mark.

My devotional for today asked me "What causes you to veer off into your common pitfalls?"

My answers had a common theme. They were not a single decision or mistake but a focus of my heart.

God's best for us has a directional quality to it. It's not just about the end product.

If you've ever hit a weight loss goal, you know that it's not the final bite of celery that has accomplished your mission. Nor is it the final step onto the scale that has dropped the pounds. But there was a journey to that final weigh in. And that journey was every bit as important as the number on the scale.

So it is with sin. When you arrive at your mistakes, your common downfalls, there's a process and a focus or lack thereof that has driven you there.

As a youth pastor, we explain to teens that sexual purity is not just refraining from certain acts, but is a posture of your heart. Purity is directional. It is pursuing God's design over own machinations.

This can be applied to any of our own sin. Temptation is rarely a single decision.

See what James says:

"But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire." (James 1:14 esv)

Take King David for an example. When he saw Bathsheba bathing, he was already indulging himself. The chronicler already gave us the fact, that "at the time kings go out to war," David stayed home.

I would argue that this man "after God's own heart" was allowing that heart to wander off the path that heads toward God, and become ensnared when he came to the intersection of Indulgence and Temptation. Where Wandering meets False Promise.

I challenge you to think of the last time you really messed up. And not just focus on the act(s) but also the direction your heart was heading leading up to your fall.

So how do we fix it. As a rule, and as a Christian, I don't. My Jesus has though! So I course correct by remaining in Him, and He in me so I might not sin against Him. (John 15:4; Psalm 119:11)


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