Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lipstick on Sin

There is a phrase used in common Western conversation that makes reference to putting “lipstick on a pig.” This phrase is used to convey the message that making superficial or cosmetic changes is a futile attempt to disguise the true nature of a bad product or a bad idea. In other words, you take an idea or a product that is horrible and you try to disguise it as something better than it is by putting lipstick on it. This is very common in advertising and politics. And, it is becoming very common in the Church today - where it should never be common at all.

There are many in the Church today who have adopted a view regarding certain, if not many, sins that is entirely a human view. They have hypocritically called “hatred” that which is not hatred. And, they have glorified as “love” that which is not love. In doing so, who are the true hypocrites? The implied criticism of this post in no way excuses self-righteousness either. Self-righteousness is sin just like beautifying sin is also a sin. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But, at the same time, a Christian adopting a view as his own that disagrees with God’s view is the exact opposite of being crucified with Christ.

Sin is defined by God and God alone. And, God defines it as repugnant rebellion in no uncertain terms. Who is man, especially a “Christian”, to say otherwise? To be a Christian means that we surrender all definitions to the only One who has the right to create every definition. The last thing that we are to adopt is a human definition over God’s.

You might be reading this and thinking, “I see sin as sin the way God does, but I also love the sinner.” That is beautiful – It truly is, because that is precisely what God does for you and me. But, do your actions back up your words. To defend a sin, glorify a sin, excuse a sin, all in the name of love is the moral equivalent of deceptively putting lipstick on a pig. It is just another form of rebellion against God. Since God is love, and He therefore defines love, it is the exact opposite of love to beautify actions which He calls ugly. Further, it is the exact opposite of love to not help people see sin the way God does because we are supposed to reconcile men to God. Blurring others’ view of their own sin by masking it with counterfeit love does not lead to reconciliation with the Author of love. Reconciliation requires knowing fully where you stand with God. If I am deluded by “Christians” to think my sin is in any way beautiful, I would have no clue where I stand, because God disagrees with my opinion of my GPS coordinates. In order to be reconciled to God, we must know where we are located first. Leading others astray with lipstick will not lead them to God’s all-forgiving grace, mercy and love.

Likewise, we as Christians should also not vault one sin as better or worse than another. Sin is sin. Every sin that God has defined for us is repugnant and ugly. We are just as guilty of putting lipstick on the pig if we think our sin is not as bad as the next person’s. Yes, if you are reading this, your sin is just as bad as the next person’s. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That is pretty clear, don’t you think? When God says “all” He means it.

Furthermore, if you want to have a complete picture of how God views sin, you need to also study and understand the Old Testament, which is where He began defining it. However, I hear many Christians criticize the Old Testament as not very helpful in a post-cross Kingdom mentality. I believe God would beg to differ. Ironically, if you were to ask Christians which is the least helpful book in the Bible, probably the vast majority would put Leviticus near or at the top of their list. Therefore, let's take the challenge to show how Leviticus can in fact be useful in this discussion.

The book of Leviticus outlines God’s law and all of the basic instructions for His Hebrews concerning the administration of the Temple, priests and all of the sacrifices, etc. For those reasons alone, you might be disregarding it as irrelevant to you today. However, whenever God speaks it is relevant. And, when God speaks, He reveals truth. For example, in relation to this discussion of beautifying sin, Leviticus 5:11 says regarding a poor man’s sin offering, “But if he cannot afford two turtledoves or two pigeons, then he shall bring as his offering for the sin that he has committed a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it and shall put no frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering.” Notice the closing requirement. If a poor man brings a sin offering of flour, he is not to put oil or frankincense on it. You might have read that before and not focused on this revealing truth. But, this is vitally important. The sin offering was for sin. Therefore, it was not to be made nice or pretty in any way. Adding oil or frankincense (perfume/seasoning) would make the sin offering nicer or more aromatic. But, sin is the pig and oil and frankincense would be the lipstick.

Is there any sin on which you put lipstick? Stop and let sin be sin – and let God be God!

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