The other day I read a post by a prominent Christian blogger that left me saddened and concerned. It reflected what I have come to see in recent months as a pervasive problem in segments of the church. I’m not linking to the post because I have no quibbles with this blogger. I am simply profoundly sad for this person and many others who were agreeing with the post.
Wallowing in sin.
Wallowing In Sin
No, I’m not talking about going out and purposely doing sinful things. I’m also not talking about choosing to do sinful things and continuing in the sin.
- I’m referring to living in a mindset of sinfulness, constantly thinking the worst of yourself. Seeing yourself every day as this horrible sinner.
- Questioning your every motive, every inclination of your heart. Being sure that there must be some horrible selfishness behind every action.
- Constantly thinking that you aren’t measuring up to what Jesus did for you on the cross. He did so much and you are so wretchedly wicked and awful and selfish and on and on and on.
It is like there is an entire growing segment of the church that has the idea that we must live in the depressing awareness of our sins (past, present, and future) all the time.
There Is No Condemnation For Those In Christ Jesus
Jesus Christ did not die on the cross and rise from the dead so we can walk around in constant condemnation.
- There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
- He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
- If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. (John 8:36)
This introspective, self-flagellating focus on sin is just so wrong.
Yes, we will still sin. Yes, we should confess our sins. But our sins are remembered no more (Hebrews 8:12) and our sins should not define who we are each day.
Our identity should be in Christ.
Our focus should be on Christ, rejoicing in what He accomplished for us on the cross.
- We are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6)
Are we to proclaim ourselves terrible sinners? Are we to parade our sins before others in a display of one-upmanship to show the world how we are truly wretched?
Are we to boast of our sin?
- May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)
We cannot boast of saving ourselves. Neither should we boast of our sinfulness after confessing our sins and recognizing Jesus as Savior and Lord.
We can never live up to what Jesus did on the cross. That is the whole point. We can never do enough for Him in comparison to what He did for us. To try to live up to what He did means that we think we can somehow repay Him for what He did. We cannot repay Him. And trying to do so by wallowing in our sinfulness is pointless.
Do we share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others? You know. The Good News that your sins are forgiven eternally, but you must continue to wallow in them in bondage here on earth?
What kind of Good News is it if we continue to beat ourselves up for our forgiven sin? What do we tell the lost? “Come to Jesus. You, too, can be miserable on earth even though you have been washed as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).”
Dearly Beloved, you are loved and accepted by God. Wallow in your sin no more. Rejoice in your salvation. Walk in your freedom!
Amen. I simply want to share that I love this post.
Brandy @ Afterthoughts
I am so glad you wrote this. It is *so* incredibly true, and I have seen that of which you speak. Good job, Sallie! 🙂
Laura and Brandy – Thank you for your encouragement.
I hope people will share a link or tweet it. I don’t normally ask for such things, but I do think this is such an important topic. My heart just breaks for so many people who are living this way.
Do you think it is a case of this blogger you mentioned wanting constant reassurance or affirmation? Kind of like when a woman says over and over “I’m not pretty” knowing full well they are, they just want to hear someone else say it to them?
That’s sorta what came to mind to me when you talked about always wallowing in their sin.
I see that it is quite fashionable in some mommy-christian-blogs to always be talking about your shortcomings. It’s like a backwards praise thing.
Amen, Sallie! My husband and I recently left a church where the pastor focused his sermons on sin (and three specific sins at that: don’t watch p*#(, marry a Christian and give to the church), but often missed the fact that as Christians, we are redeemed, forgiven and free from the burden of sin. It was like a breath of fresh air or a glass of water in the desert to go to my new church and experience a sermon where grace and mercy were the focus.
I don’t think it’s the same blog, but I’ve read a few of these types of posts lately in my travels around the internet. I think it’s something else….I think it’s actually untreated depression and anxiety manifesting. Compulsive thoughts are a hallmark of anxiety, and what better to dwell on than your sins? I worry because I think that in some of these cases it is medical treatment that is needed, and some keep going back to trying to find a spiritual fix. But there may not be a spiritual fix without a medical one first.
I’m trying to respond to comments and also be vague at the same time as I’m really not trying to call out anyone specifically. It is something I see in a lot of places, including blogs that appeal to young women and mommies. I think it is also related to the prevalent “sin sniffing” that goes on with certain church groups and celebrity pastors. That attitude gets transmitted through books, podcasts, etc. The post that prompted this post wasn’t from one of those sources, but I think it is safe to say (based on peripheral evidence) that this person has been influenced by some of these same people and groups.
I think Lindsey is correct that it is a “fashionable” thing to do. “Serious” Christians right now seem to be obsessed with their sin. I’m trying to tread lightly here. I am all for people being open about their struggles. I think we do need to talk in Christian circles about anxiety, depression, spiritual abuse, etc. They are real problems faced by our real brothers and sisters in Christ. This goes way beyond that.
Ann’s comment was interesting about the untreated anxiety and depression. I can see how that might be an issue for some people. I couldn’t say from a distance if that is the case.
I think it is also a theological problem. There is a lot of bad theology floating around today. There are a lot of speakers, writers and ministries that are setting up unrealistic expectations for both men and women. I’m thinking out loud here, but maybe the way some people deal with these unattainable expectations is simply to focus on their sin and failings. If they constantly acknowledge how wretched and unworthy they are, it makes it easier to accept that they can never live up to the Christian cultural expectations.
What they should be doing is looking at the freedom they have in Christ from the need to perform and win the approval of man. We don’t have to prove our worth to anyone. Our worth is in Christ. We simply serve Him out of joy and thanksgiving for what He has freed us from. And we certainly don’t have to prove our worth TO Christ. He already rescued us and put His love on us. If He chose to love us when we were dead in our trespasses and sin, why would we think we have to prove our worthiness to Him now?
Good comments! Keep them coming!
Brandy @ Afterthoughts
I do think that, among other things, this type of self-focus is the most acceptable kind right now. If someone was bragging about their triumphs and victories too often, they would probably lose their readers. But if you are navel-gazing in a negative way, it’s okay because you’re being “vulnerable” and “real.” At least, that is what I’ve run into. I know I didn’t read the post of which you spoke because it didn’t ring a bell, but I’ve run into the same kind of thing, like I said before, and I really do think it is a form of self-idolatry. It’s just a safe kind, and because if you call yourself a sinner (which is true) you can get away with it.
I tweeted this, by the way. Sorry I forgot to do that yesterday.
Brandy – Thanks for the tweet.
I laughed at “vulnerable” and “real” because I have a post written about popular Christianese words that I’ve grown to despise. It is sure to offend someone and I haven’t had the guts to put it up yet. LOL!
I think your observations are quite accurate. I mean “spot on”… (Gag…) I had thought about the self-idolatry angle as well, but didn’t include it. But, yes, the excessive navel-gazing sounds so spiritual but it really isn’t.
Thank you for speaking the truth, Sallie. This post was a blessing to me.
Just so encouraging…thank you.
Good blog! Too many are living below their privileges in Christ.
Virginia Knowles (Watch the Shepherd)
Sally, I wrote a post on this, which is actually part of a letter I never sent to our former pastor.
“On Walking by Grace Instead of a Focus on Mortifying Indwelling Sin”
I distinctly remember a very troubling evening at a Bible study group where I was trying to talk about grace in response to a question the leader had asked. An alpha male in the group told me he was going to park his bus on my ideas and back up three times. The Christian life is all about violently mortifying our sin, he claimed. I was trying to share that the Christian life is about following Jesus’ example, being filled with the Holy Spirit and continually saying yes to God with our words and actions.
We are new creations in Christ… the old is gone, and the new has come!! hallelujah… Thank You LORD!
I get so cranky when I hear over and over…that everything we do is filthy rags, and every inclination of our heart is wicked and evil… that’s true without Jesus, we are nothing without Him… but praise God, Jesus is our Savior and Lord! so that’s not true anymore! let’s acknowledge His work in us, Praise God!
I need to write a follow-up post to this now that I’ve been a parent for a number of years. That post would be about parents who are obsessed with rooting out every little perceived sin in their children. Every childish mistake or lack of understanding is seen as sin and must be attacked ruthlessly and relentlessly.
This bothers me even more than women wallowing in sin because of the potential it has to destroy these poor children.
I’ve read some blog posts and discussions lately that made me feel literally anxious for the poor little souls being discussed. If those kids are anything like my Caroline, Lord Jesus help those children and open the eyes of the parents to the damage they are doing.