“Ironically, the criminal’s religiosity fosters crime for, when it is genuine; it bolsters his opinion of himself as an outstanding person. It is as though by having felt remorse, prayed and confessed his sins to God, the criminal empties his cup of whatever evil it might have contained so that he has even more latitude to do as he pleases.”
Evangelical Christianity does not teach or even imply that I am even capable of being an “outstanding person.” Rather, the Bible teaches that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9) The whole premise of Christianity is that I am so far removed from God that God had to reach out to me to effect my salvation.
There is nothing in my nature that would even look for God if not for His work on my behalf. Romans 3:10-11 says “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understand, there is none that seek after God.”
The uniqueness about Christianity is that, while other religions are about man trying to attain perfection, or at least a oneness with a higher power, Christianity is about God reaching down to me.
Because of my rebellion (sin/imperfection) I can not do anything to merit God’s forgiveness. It is only His love and mercy that makes provision for unity with Him. Because of the nature of sin, God can not tolerate it. Therefore, He provided a means where the penalty was paid in full and I can enter His presence – not in my own “righteousness or goodness”, but in the righteousness of Jesus who paid the full price.
Remorse, praying and confession do not remove the sin or evil from my life. Instead, they are an acknowledgement to God, that I know I am a fallen creature.
1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He forgives the confessor, because His Son paid the penalty.
The cleansing part of this passage is not something I can do by myself. It is the Spirit’s work, in my life, to cleanse me; to convict me of those areas in my life that are still in rebellion to God.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 says “Quench not the Spirit.” As a human being with free will, I can and have chosen many, many times to ignore the prompting of the Spirit – to resist the cleansing process. This is my struggle, the struggle between my old nature (sin nature/ shadow side) and the new nature I was given when I accepted Christ’s payment my behalf.
So, does Christianity foster crime in me? No. It was my own choice to ignore the work of the Spirit in my life that fostered my crimes and deviancy.
So what is the cure? None. The struggle never ends. Paul talks about his constant battle in Romans 7 and he cries out in verse 24 “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” His answer – verse 25 “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
He continues this theme in chapter 8. It is the Spirit and Paul’s submission to the Spirit in his mind that keeps him from yielding to the “law of sin” the dark side, the old nature. But it was not a one time submission. It is a constant battle. The New Testament is full of admonitions to keep fighting and tools I can use:
Having said all that, does Christianity foster crime in me? No, my human nature is what fosters sin in me. Christianity is the only effective weapon against that nature. However, like any weapon, it has to be used correctly to be a benefit. I have used Christianity as a safety net – I would sin, ask for and receive forgiveness then go back to sinning again.
So what will keep me from that same path again? Only a constant walk with Him. Developing the habit of replacing the thoughts I have carried so long in my head, with thoughts of Him, His work on my behalf, His power in creation and His love for me.
Last updated: 05/04/2016