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03 Dec '12

The object of our anger in sinful situations

Posted by T.J. Addington in confession, Restoration, sin, taking responsibility
Recently I had to struggle with the failure of a Christian leader who I admired and respected. The pain of his actions have impacted numerous people including those who were closest to him. There have been the normal emotions of anger, betrayal, disappointment, grief and amazement at the behavior. These are normal emotions which only time, forgiveness and reconciliation can heal. Fortunately, no act of sin is beyond Jesus's work for us on the cross so I remain hopeful.

It did raise some questions for me, however. How does one respond in such a situation? I know that forgiveness is necessary and the twin roads of accountability and grace are the means to healing. But I was also struck by two other emotions.

The first is that I was angry with sin. Think about the pain in your own life that has been inflicted by others. Then consider the pain that has been inflicted by ourselves to us and to others. Sin is ugly and painful and harmful to all concerned. I hate sin and the more of it I find in my life or see its workings in others the more I hate it. There is nothing good or redeeming or worthwhile about sin. That is why Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice to forgive our deep, innate, wicked sinfulness. 

Anger at sin is an appropriate emotion - perhaps even more than anger at those who perpetuate it. That does not let them off the hook but it is a reminder that the effects of the fall are huge and universal and very personal. I think of the pain my own sin has had on those I love and it makes me sad. 

Then I found myself angry at Satan. He loves sin and the destruction and carnage it brings while God hates sin and died for it. Satan is a master at using sin to destroy relationships, people, ministry, families and whatever he can. This is the point that Paul was making in Ephesians 6. Behind every sinful action is a sinful being whose minions are ever working to hurt and destroy and kill. Especially those who follow Jesus.

Finally I found myself sad for the one who violated trust and those whose trust was violated. I was reminded of the need for spiritual armor and vigilance in my own life. The phrase "there but for the grace of God" became more clear in my own mind. We are all fallen and vulnerable apart from the grace and power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Am I disappointed with my friend? Does he need to confess and make restitution? Are there people who should be angry with his actions? Are there consequences to his actions? All yes. And I have often been disappointed with myself. But my anger is largely focused on sin itself and the one who is the author of sin, Satan. And I am even more aware of the vulnerability of us all, living in a fallen world - the legacy of our first parents, Adam and Eve. And the need we have for Jesus and salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. I will not throw the first stone in condemnation! I will encourage him toward wholeness.