Sinful behavior is damaging

sin signFor quite some time I’ve been noticing, and pondering (it hasn’t hurt too much) the overall impact that sinful behavior has on us, the people around us, or people in general.  It’s clear that our wrongs toward others damage them, our relationships, etc.  But what about the ones that are behind the scenes, the ones that nobody else may be aware of?  I’ve long thought that the impact of our sin is as much spiritual as it is physical/tangible, which easily leads us to think that it’s impact could be happening on a spiritual, unseen level as well.  There are things in scripture that lead us to believe this as well.

Proverbs 28:13 says that

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

 Though our wrong actions may be hidden from sight, their impact is significant and very real.  While Solomon’s words “does not prosper” are fairly vague – the point is clear.  Sin in our lives is not a beneficial thing.

Isaiah 59 is a passage that deals almost exclusively with this issue – it speaks of how the sin of Israel impacted them negatively.  I’ll just highlight some of my observations from the chapter…

  •   Sin, in some way and to some degree, separates is from God.  Perhaps it’s like a marriage relationship, where an offense against a spouse can cause a tension, distance, division that cannot be overcome until the offense is dealt with adequately. (vs. 2)
  • Another way Isaiah states it is that “your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” 
    Think through the implications on this one – your connection with God, your prayer life, etc.  You can’t see those effects, but you begin to notice them over time… (vs. 2)
  • “Ruin and destruction” come as a result of the sinfully behaving person.  This may be to them or to those who are left in their wake – but it does come. (vs. 7)
  • There is a lack of peace when sin is present (vs. 8).
  • Righteousness/goodness are far from the person who continues in sin (vs. 9).  There is also a lack of illumination or guidance…
  • Verse 12 says that “our sins testify against us…”  This is one of those things that I think probably happens on a spiritual level.  The image that comes to my mind is that in the spiritual realm, we are marked in such a way that the obvious nature of our offense is evident…
  • Things that are valued such as truth, honesty, justice – they are all  repressed in our lives to some degree. (vs. 14-15)
  • Another interesting part of what happens is this – in some way and to some degree, God becomes opposed to us when we continue in sinful behavior.  Vs. 17-18 paint a picture of God as a warrior, going out to “repay” and inflict His wrath on those who have rebelled against Him.

Let’s be practical…

How could all of this be seen or felt in our lives?  Here’s some “what ifs” I’ve thought of…

  • A husband or wife is secretly involved in an improper relationship with another person… and there seems to be an awkwardness, a tension almost at home.  There doesn’t seem to be anything directly related to the sin (after all, nobody else knows) but nevertheless, the estrangement between husband and wife continues to enlarge…
  • A man is using his position at work to gain an unfair advantage in the stock market.  He’s been doing it for years.  It seems completely secret, but those closest to him feel he’s changed in ways they can’t put their fingers on… (could his sin be testifying against him?)
  • You are involved in something you know is wrong, and nobody else knows.  You try to go on, putting up a good Christian front, but something inside just won’t let you feel right about it.  You can’t shake the feeling that God’s just not with you (can you see why?)…

You probably get the point by now.  Sin causes things to occurr in our lives that we can’t always put a finger on – but are very real.  A caution I would give at this point is this:  At all costs don’t let yourself be tricked into thinking that because you can’t SEE the negative that is happening – then that means it’s not really happening.  Sin is a spiritual force and it has spiritual consequences as well as tangibly physical ones.  It’s back to what Paul said so well – you will reap what you sow.

But there’s good news about this.  The end of Isaiah 59 shows that the LORD Himself has taken the initiative to make things right again… “The Redeemer will come… to those who repent of their sins…”  As Solomon said at the beginning, when we confess (admit) and renounce (commit to turn from) our sins, we find the mercy of  God.  It was only a prayer away…

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