Self Destruction

I believe we are all engaged in self destruction, everyone of us, though most of us would deny it. We all are doing and thinking in ways that harm ourselves, and there are deadly consequences to our thoughts and actions.  I am talking about sin, that is the wrongdoing and wrong-thinking that we do. We are all guilty of doing it, and it is not healthy.

I know that it is not popular to talk about this today.  Sin is a countercultural topic. People for 50+ years have been saying “I’m okay and you’re okay”.  Most would say that they are, by and large, good people.  And they would say that of others too so as to at least not damage their self esteem. (It is easier to see the faults of others than to see faults in ourselves.)  Reality is we are all damaged goods. We are not okay.  We are broken and not good at all.  Problems in the world are not just out there.  The problems in the world start inside each one of us.  It is ultimately an internal problem, our own sin. 

What does sin look like?  The list of the “Seven Deadly Sins” is a good way to categorize various sins.  They are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.  Pride is considered to be the original and most serious of the sins.  It is where ego and self are directly opposed to God. It is where you say “I can do better than God”, or “I know better than God”.  It is you being self centered. According to a Vatican study, the sin that men were most likely to confess was lust,  while for women it was pride.  What is the sin category you struggle most with?

How does one fall into sin? Father Maximos of Mount Athos says the “holy elders” have described five stages of temptation to sin as: 

  1. Assault: The tempting or evil thought first attacks a person’s mind.
  2. Interaction: A person opens up a dialogue with the tempting thought.
  3. Consent: A person consents to what the tempting thought urges them to do.
  4. Captivity: A person becomes a hostage to the tempting thought, finding it more difficult to resist each time one falls.
  5. Passion or obsession: The tempting thought becomes an entrenched reality within the person’s mind.

Sin is habit forming. What can you do with that sinful habit of yours?  It is not easy to deal with, but with the Holy Spirit’s help you can nip the tempting thought in the bud.  At stage one, you ignore the tempting thought and put it out of your mind.  That is easier said than done, but it is possible. It is especially difficult if you have fallen many times to that same temptation. The sin can become second nature to you.  To help, there are a variety of 12 step recovery groups around to help and support you in your struggle.  Celebrate Recovery is a Christian 12 step recovery program that covers all you may be struggling with.  It does not matter what your addiction or sinful habit is, whether it be drugs, porn, or gossip.  Celebrate Recovery can help.  They are nationwide with groups all over the USA.

The reality of sin is depressing and very self esteem crushing, but there is good news. Each and every one of us is fully loved by God, despite our sin.  Jesus Christ came into this world to deal with sin and to restore us to God.  Because of him we can have an abundant life in him and ultimately will become free from our sin.  In Christ, we can face the brokenness of the world and of ourselves. Also because of him we have become forgiven children of God. Our sins will no longer define us. God will restore us from our self destruction and we will be made whole.

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