Behold Your God — Week Two, Day Three

7 Jun

Is all sin the same? On one level, yes. All sin is the same because all sin is an offense against God. But on another level, all sin is not the same because there are certain sins which give rise to other sins. The Behold Your God study calls these “root sins.” This is to be distinguished from “fruit sins,” which are the outward expressions of root sins. Both root sins and fruit sins are sin, but it is important for us to target root sins in our battle against sin, because in killing root sins, we are also taking care of many fruit sins at the same time.

Chief among the root sins are pride, unbelief and selfishness.

We see this pattern of root sins in the Bible all the time. Moses’ root sin of unbelief in Numbers 20 caused him to strike the rock in disobedient anger (fruit sin). Saul’s pride got the best of him (root sin) and he directly disobeyed God’s instructions on his military endeavors and on the sacrifices which were to be made to the Lord (fruit sins). James highlights in the fourth chapter of his epistle many fruit sins (quarrels, complaining, infighting) which emerge from the root sin of selfishness (see James 4:1-4).

The reason this is all important in everyday life is that we spend much of our time attacking fruit sins without ever addressing the roots of sin in our lives. We believe if we can remove the stubborn habit (anger, lust, impatience) we will be alright. But we have never addressed the root sins. So we put much effort into dealing with some fruit sin and find success, only to find another fruit sin soon replacing it. Why is this the case? Because if you cut off one fruit sin the root sin will produce another in its place. There are hundreds of sins which can come from the root sin of pride. If we deal with the root sins, we will live much more holy and faithful lives.

So what must we do? We must search our hearts. Is there a lingering pride, unbelief, or selfishness in us? Are these things producing rotten fruit in our lives? When we find ourselves angry or drawn to gossip or lying, might it be profitable to ask ourselves why we are tempted toward these attitudes. Could selfishness or unbelief be lurking under the surface? If so, it is better to address those issues than just try to deal with our anger (although there is a place for dealing with fruit sins as well).

One note of caution — there is a subtle danger in all of this of which we must be aware: the danger of self-obsession. The Bible calls us to examine ourselves but there is a fine line between self-examination and self-obsession. God is to be our Great Attraction and He is our only hope. Only His power can give us strength to root out sin in our lives and only His grace can cleanse us and give us right standing before God. So even as we search our hearts, we look to Christ, because apart from Him even our best efforts are in vain.

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