What if I never had to sin again?
I have been pursuing some answers to my sin problem--or my overcoming sin problem, that is of being able to move beyond forgiveness to developing patterns in my life that keep me connected to God and all that that means.
Isn't that called Sanctification? Well, most likely, but stating the word now locks me into a theological debate I do not want to get involved in. But yes. I purchased a book not too long ago entitled, The Five Views of Sanctification, which basically has each view beating up on all of the others in Jesus' name while rising to the top. I bought it because it added yet another feather into the hat of my search for perfection--it continues in humanity too. It is a viable question of merit.
Perfection? Another theological term I do not want to debate (but discuss? Yep). It doesn't mean to me what it means to so many others. To me it means responsibility to the best I am able. Some would say it is the Garden of Eden. I would say if Eden was perfect by some definitions then why did it need to be kept, tended, have dominion taken over it by Adam? Well, because each of those activities are a part of what it means to maintain the perpetual status of perfect. Perfection doesn't mean "not able to happen," but when that which is able does happen, we learn and grow from it. We identify the things that do not belong, like weeds, and dispose of them while learning to bring to health the things that should remain. To me, my own heart is the Garden of Eden of must tend.
So when someone speaks of sinless perfection, it doesn't mean I am not able to sin, or even that I do not sin, but that I need not sin. With each temptation I can have the victory that is offered to me to overcome it (given to me from the outside in another, Christ, on the inside by His Spirit within). The renewing sense of my inner person becoming reoriented toward the God's ways and actions in the world--His being glorified--His given the opportunity to reveal Himself in all He is and create something to which I respond to Him--this is the new creation of me. But it cannot happen if I am not understanding what is for me and what is against me.
I was created. I was created for God, and to live in a world He created for me to live in. Which means God has things set up in this world for me to meet Him, so He can reveal Himself to me, because He loves me and wants to know me and wants me to know Him. But there is another world that seeks to move me away from God. Let's call it Chaos. It could also be called Void.
In creation's first moments, it was void and in chaos, and in darkness. This world, or part of the world, still exists. God spoke into it and his world came into being in the midst of the other--order came out of chaos, light came into the darkness, and real matter took up space in the void. But darkness, void, and chaos all still lurk within the created order to undo and reclaim. I call these tactics the appetite of greed--or consumerism. Most if not all governments seek to make some order within the chaos by borrowing from God's laws and creative powers to make things work for themselves. Sometimes these laws work. Many times they do not. It is at the most self-serving times they do not; and during the selfless times that they do. Let me move back to the center of speaking about never having to sin again.
If I never had to sin again, I would want that. I have four children, and if in some way I could have them to always chose what I have taught them as right, I would want that too. If I, being as messed up as I am, desire such a good thing for my own children, is it to far of a stretch for me to believe God not only wants that for me, but has actually created a way for me to have that?
Samuel Powell (I ran across his book Discovering our Christian Faith, for a course I taught in Theology) speaks of the Forms of Sin--how we seek completeness and fullness in realities other than God. Sin is the power of chaos, darkness, and void inside of a human being--inside of me. To me, these forms do two things: first, they keep me from seeing how God has set up the meeting places for Him to reveal Himself to me and therefore keep me from responding to God, and also tempt me to live in my own world--a world that looks to me like I am creating, but in actuality it is the world Chaos, Darkness, and Void are using me to create and therefore, a lie. It might be good for me to interject here that Satan is the Prince of Darkness.
Powell gives the following Forms of Sin: Foolishness, Unrighteousness (Lawlessness), Injustice, Idolatry (Misplaced Trust), Hubris (I am God), Familiarity (Robbing God).
Powell makes this statement that I am still chewing on: "To be authentically human is to be oriented toward God. Without this orientation we are a distorted version of our true being. So to say that we are created from nothing is to say that human existence, considered apart from our orientation to God, is void and that we become truly human only as we exist in orientation to God. Unless we are oriented toward God, our existence reverts to the nothingness from which we are created."
Jesus said, "Without me, you can do nothing." (John 15)
Paul learned, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Philippians 4).
Sin then is disorienting. Sin seeks to create a copy of the world God has created (a distorted world) where Chaos reigns. It is not a second world, but a lesser world within God's world--a matrix of lies and corruption. John's gospel and letters calls this matrix, the world. It is the system that opposes the revelation of God, and which keeps you from responding to Him.
The consequences of living in the matrix--the lesser world where chaos reigns, are: Alienation (spiritual death, judgment (people loved darkness rather than light), muted creation), and Corruption (wrong desires, loss of freedom, distorted thinking, unethical conduct, wickedness).
So where does this lead me?
God's grace. Repentance, faith, and hope in the grace of God is a continual invitation to me.