Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Your Worst Problem Is Not Your Sin

Your worst problem is not your sin. The worst problem is the worldview you have adopted that allows you to think your sinful choice was an appropriate response to the situation at hand.

We too often focus on the acts of sin, which are bad, disgraceful, shameful, and without excuse. But those wicked acts do not exist in a vacuum. They are the product of a worldview that we have adopted.

Addressing the acts alone is like weeding the garden with a lawn mower. It may make it look a little better, but it will not solve the problem.

If we will solve the sin problems of life, we must address them at the root level of our worldview.


Brian Jones said...

I don't know.... I think sin nature is the worst problem both because it is fundamental to fallen humanity and not completely vanquished until death. To be sure, worldview is colored and distorted by our sin nature and is admittedly a big problem as you say. But sin will always be a natural impulse, an instinctive reaction on a most gutteral level. Worldviews can be shaped and changed more easily than sinful impulses which seem to take the longest time in sanctification to weaken and finally break.


Larry said...

I am not sure I would characterize sin as an instinctive reaction on a most gutteral level. Our sinful choices are not like having our knees tested at the doctor's office. The knee jerk is a true instinctive reflex. If you are working properly, you can't help it. Acts of sin are always voluntary, even for the unbeliever. An unbeliever can choose not to participate in an act of sin. He has no basis to choose not to, except self, but he can do it.

It seems to me that sin is always the product of wrong thinking, which is the product of our worldview. It may not be a conscious thought process, but it is the product of our thinking.

If we thought differently, we would act differently. When we focus on acts of sin, I don't think we are focusing on the primary problem. Sinful acts are a problem to be sure, but they are the symptoms of a worldview that allows us to act that way to begin with.

My theology is that people are born with a sin nature, which is total. Their minds (where their worldview is) is distorted by sin, and can only be fixed by regeneration. After regeneration, the worldview change comes at varying stages.

With respect to your last sentence, I wonder if the opposite isn't true, that it is easier to change actions than worldviews. An alcoholic can wean himself off the bottle without any true change in worldview from self to God. An angry person can control it without ever adjusting his world view to the biblical revelation.

Perhaps there is a both/and in that respect.

Brian Jones said...

I was speaking of the sin NATURE: it is instinctive, gutteral, fundamental, natural, impulsive and hard to break. Not actions. I agree that many actions and habits can be changed without altering one's worldview, but the sin nature lies beneath both actions and worldview and therefore is highly influential to both.

So I wasn't trying to contradict your original point as much as to suggest that maybe the problem is deeper even than worldview. Again, one's sin nature certainly distorts and colors his/her worldview but one's worldview is also shaped by common grace (morality), upbringing, etc.

Larry said...

I do agree about the sin nature part of it. I misunderstood the thrust of your post.

I think worldview grows out of our nature, and perhaps even is the expression of our nature. I think as our nature is sanctified, our worldview changes, and our actions change.

I would have to think through how much of a practical dichotomy there is there.

Jon from Reidville, SC said...

I have to jump in with Brian here. The difference is that we have a supernatural change that allows us to determine whether we will move our knee when it is struck or not. Now, since we have always before moved our knee when the hammer falls it *seems* the natural thing to do. We feel it so strongly! Yet we are no longer slaves to that reflex. We can now choose to only move our knee when we need to.

Larry, this is an interesting idea. I think we still have a big root problem of sin. I would agree that our view of sin hinders our dealing with our sins. If we have a more Pauline/Biblical view of sin and the work of the Spirit to overcome our fleshly reflexes then we would see more victory over our old nature.

I had a sweet time with my girls this morning in Bible class discussing the Fruit of the Spirit in contrast to the preceding verses in Gal 5.

Larry said...

Two questions:

If sin is instinctive, then how do unbelievers change sin actions without regeneration? I think it undeniable that they do.

If regeneration is determinative (as you seem to use it), why do believers not change sinful actions? AGain, I think it undeniable that they do not.

I think regeneration is the implanting of a new nature, which resides in the believer with the old nature.

To this particular topic, how do the nature and worldview relate to each other? I think the worldview grows out of the nature which we feed. If we feed our old nature as believers, the worldview grows in sinfulness, and out of that comes sinful actions. If we feed the new nature, the worldview grows in righteousness and righteous actions flow from it.

The unbeliever can change his worldview with the result that his behavior changes, without experiencing regeneration. He has simply adjusted his worldview so that his actions can change.

In my mind, this whole thing is pretty complex so I am trying to work it all out.

My main point is that we will never effectively address sin unless we address the root level of worldviews. The sin nature starts there; what we see (actions/attitudes/etc.) simply flow out of the worldview.

D Perry said...

Sin is only "sin" when we compare the it to a holy and sinless God. Even Paul acknowledges this when he says that without the law he had not known sin. To an unbeliever his sin flows out of his nature. The worldview theory would also oppose verses that teach that which is in a man defiles him. Scripture must be our guide. Where in scripture does it address our worldview except when addressing those who are already have a new nature? Our own sin is always our biggest problem which is why Christ died for our sins and not our worldview.

Larry said...

Where in scripture does it address our worldview except when addressing those who are already have a new nature?

You can see my next post, but remember that Eph 4:17-19 describes the mind of man in some very negative terms. And that is instructive because worldview is an issue of the mind ... the way we think. Transformation is found in renewing the mind (Eph 4:23; Rom 12:2). That must of necessity start with regeneration.

Why do unbelievers do what they do? Because of what they think--their worldview.

Why do they think what they think? Because of their sin nature.