Temptation Part 1
Talking about sin these days is not so easy. Sin is not a popular word, nor is it simple to define. Certainly there is an element of what we would like to call “morality” associated with the term. Sin represents those things that are somehow “immoral” or “wrong,” right? Not that simple. In an age of moral relativism where statements like “what’s right for me may not be right for you, but fear not, I will not be judging you” are all too common, how do we address the biblical concept of sin? Are we to even address it at all? Perhaps we need to remove the word from the Bible, or at least from our sermons.
Dictionary.com defines sin as: “any act regarded as such a transgression, esp. a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.” Some religious or moral principle. Assuming that principles will be applied in ones life, this might be helpful. Unfortunately, some of the smartest people on the planet have been telling us for years now that we are living in a postmodern world where foundationalism (a philosophical construct established during the Enlightenment suggesting that all forms of knowing have verifiable “foundations”) has crumbled. There are no foundations; knowledge is devised in a loosely constructed “web or network” which essentially relativises the “knowable.” Based upon this postfoundational premise, morality (a means of “knowing” right and wrong) also becomes relativised, and sin becomes undefinable. If a well-meaning Christian happens to attempt to define it, she will immediately be labeled as “judgmental” and people will stop following her on Twitter.
This leads to another thought however: if there is no right and wrong, can a person truly be tempted? After all, to tempt is to “entice or allure to do something often regarded as unwise, wrong, or immoral.” If it’s not wrong, I can’t really be tempted can I?
But then I go back to this model of prayer that Jesus taught us.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Obviously I can be tempted.
Maybe morality isn’t as relative as we’d like to make it out to be. Maybe there are standards of right and wrong. Maybe Jesus is actually wanting us to protect ourselves from the “death” that sin causes in our lives, and not (as so many suppose) trying to take away all our fun.
If I am on to something here, then Jesus wasn’t kidding when he told us to pray “lead us not into temptation.” He was serious. Maybe there are choices that we can make, actions that we can take, places we can go, activities that we can participate in that are actually “bad” for us; things that are actually “wrong.” And maybe God wants us to know that there are actually these “wrong” things in life not because He is some kind of cosmic killjoy, but because He loves us and wants to protect us from what will ultimately harm us or those we love.
If I am still on to something here, the next logical question becomes, “What are the standards, and how do I uphold them?”
I’ll think on this some and address it tomorrow.