How Treasuring Sin Leads to Apostacy

I found this from Gene Veith, as recorded in Loving God With All Your Mind, to be very insightful:

A young man is raised in a Christian home and has some measure of belief in Christ. He then becomes involved in some sort of overt sin. This can be any sin—pride, covetousness, addiction, dishonoring of parents, worldliness. It is often a sexual sin. He has the honesty and presence of mind to realize that this favorite sin is incompatible with the Christian faith. He has the moral sensitivity to experience guilt.

There are two ways he can respond. He may repent of the sin and turn to Christ to receive full and free forgiveness. Or he may hold on to the sin, treasure it, and refuse to give it up either overtly or emotionally. He starts to center his life around the sin, to seek from it consolation, help, and escape, to find in it, in effect, the meaning of his life.

But what about the guilt? If he is not interested in repenting and being forgiven, then there is only one way to end the torment: to reject whatever it is that brands his life as evil. If what I am doing is not really wrong, then I can “feel good about myself.” If there is no objective standard of right and wrong, I can do as I please. If there is no God, then I am not a sinner.

At this point, the “pretexts” are discovered. There are many reasons not to believe in God. They become extremely persuasive to someone who does not want God to exist. The arguments with the most force become those that turn one’s own moral failures against the Judge, so that the person’s own sinfulness is projected onto God Himself: “I can never believe in God because He allows so much evil in the world.” God becomes imagined not as the source of good, but as the source of evil.

(HT:Z)

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  • Don Rogers says:

    According to the Bible, doesn’t God do good and evil things?
    Isaiah 45:6,7. Wasn’t it not until the post-exilic period that Jews saw a dramatic growth in the importance of Satan in religious life, which continued into the New Testamental period. Prior to that time its seems that most emphasis was placed on God’s role in the initiation of evil and after the exile it changed. Could this be the influence of Persian Zoroastrianism during the exile?

  • Michael K. says:

    This is an interesting idea, Don, and one that I think is difficult to articulate, so I’ll try to do so here. It seems like we’re talking about the sovereignty of God in all things. So the question is, “Is God the Originator of Evil?”

    If you say “yes,” then the road leads you (or can lead you) not only to question God’s goodness, but to argue that there really is no such thing as evil. Most of us would push back on that, for there is plenty in the world we would deem as evil.

    Rather than saying that He originates evil, I feel like the more appropriate response is not that He originates, but that He continually frustrates evil with His redemptive power, always bringing good out of what was meant for evil. We would point to Joseph’s confession to his brothers among other places for this truth.

    In fact, you might go so far as to say that if the Jewish importance of Satan was influenced by Zoroastrianism, then here again we see God bringing a good doctrine out of an idolatrous system. Just a few thoughts.

  • Steve says:

    This reminded of what I was just reading in the book of Judges. In the last four chapters of judges the theme is “In those days Israel had no king, everyone did as he saw fit”. This attitude always leads to disaster.

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