What is at the heart of the human sin nature? If one were to think about sin, what it is and how it works, what would be at its essence? Some say pride. Some say greed. And I’m not actually wanting to write a scholarly argument for seminary review here. But I do think, with a look at the ending of Job, we can get a sense, from Job’s failing, of what our sin in its pure form smells like.
Yes, I said Job’s failing. In chapter 2 of Job the Lord made sure we knew that Job did not sin with his lips. But that was in chapter 2, long before Job’s conversation with his friends. During that conversation, Job walked dangerously close to the edge. The reason that I argue that Job failed, at least a little, is that he repents. One does not repent from success and find the blessing of God at the end.
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Of what did Job have to repent? How does it show us what our sin is at its core? Look at these words from the Lord in the middle of his questioning and correcting of Job.
Job 40:1-2, 8
1 And the Lord said to Job:
2 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
He who argues with God, let him answer it.”
8 Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
At the end of the day, I think the core of human sin is the notion that we can judge God to be in the wrong. Adam and Eve, in the garden, deceived by the serpent, determined that God was wrong for withholding from them the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve determined for herself that she would like to be in God’s position of power. The couple, in their rebellion against God, was fighting to be their own deity.
Consider your own failings. How often are your sins caused by your assumption that you deserve something that God has not given you? You rage because traffic upsets you. God has not been good to you by giving you an easy commute. You go into depression because people do not admire you. God has not given you the loving attention of others you deserve. You do something shady financially. God has not given you the fiscal freedom you deserve. You sin with sexual lust or open immorality. God has not been good to you by fulfilling all your desires as you deserve. You shout at your wife or your children and treat them poorly. God has not given you the admiring, respectful, perfect spouse that you deserve. Is not all our sin our souls’ declaration that God has not been good, that is ways are not perfect, that we know better than him what is righteous?
Christians, one of the greatest dangers we face as we think about the world we live in is the danger of us placing ourselves, in our own minds, in a position to sit as judge over the Lord. We must not pretend that we can ever know better than the Lord what is right or wrong. God is infinite in knowledge. We are not. God is perfect in holiness. We are not. We lack both the goodness and the capacity to judge a single deed of the Lord’s.
Remember this as you face a world that calls into question the standards of the Lord. How do we respond to the world’s arguments about sexuality, gender, marriage, justice, or righteousness? We respond by looking to the word of God. We begin with the absolute knowledge that God is good in all things; his ways are perfect. If he tells us that his design is best, it is. If the world around us says that God’s design for human flourishing is not good or does not work, we let them know that we understand their rationale, but we know the God who created all, who is over all, who knows all, and who is the only one who can declare what is righteous and what is sinful.