Sin distorts our thinking. How? Here’s one way …

In my Bible reading this morning, I came across the story in Genesis 38 where Judah had sex with his daughter-in-law thinking she was a prostitute because she had covered her face. (Yep, the Bible doesn’t gloss over anything. God tells us the good, the bad and the ugly.)

So, Judah committed adultery and thought no one knew about it. Three months later, someone tells him that his daughter-in-law, Tamar, is pregnant. (Remember, he doesn’t realize that the child she is carrying is his.)

How does he respond to the news? He gets livid! He is furious that someone in his family has engaged in such sin!

Genesis 38:24 “About three months later Judah was told, ‘Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.’ And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.”

There is no grace at all in Judah’s words. He’s ready to wipe her out. Destroy her!

That’s one way that we often think about others who are engaged in sin. When we have the proverbial beam in our own eye (Matthew 7:5), we often tend to deal very harshly with others who are in sin. Because we subconsciously want to get our mind off of our own guilt, we project it onto others, get angry and refuse to evidence any grace whatsoever.

Note to self: You don’t want to be the one caught in sin by a legalistic hypocrite. You’re going to get hurt and hurt really bad. They are dealing with the guilt of personal sin and they are going to project their anger onto you.

But, there is a second way that personal sin distorts our ability to see sin in others. When we have engaged (or are engaging) in sin we feel guilty. We feel like we would be a hypocrite if we pointed out sin in others. So, when we see someone caught in a sin (Galatians 6:1), we don’t step in to help them get rid of the destructive choice they are making. We let it go. We look over it. We think: “No one’s perfect.” And sin continues.

I think this scenario plays out much too often in the parent / child relationship. Parents are all too aware of what they did as a child or young adult and so they let their children go down sinful, dangerous roads because they would feel like a hypocrite if they told their children to stop it. Or, they are presently involved in sin so, once again, they would feel like a hypocrite to expect their children to live to a higher standard than them so they don’t address it.

Or, they may feel so guilty about what they have done or are doing that they come down hard, really hard, on their kids. They are unrelenting. They are merciless. And if their children ever had a sin struggle and wanted someone to talk to about it, their parents would be the very last ones they would consider.

So, the two ways that sin distorts our thinking when we see sin in others are: 

  • law without grace (the sinner gets slammed) 
  • grace without law (the sinner gets a pass)
Neither of these options are healthy or biblical. So we need to do ourselves and others a favor by taking our walk with Jesus seriously. We need to kill sin and pursue personal holiness first. Then we can correctly and compassionately help others.

Matthew 7:5 “You hypocrite, FIRST take the log out of your own eye, and THEN you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (emphasis mine)