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Sin and Dysfunction – Part 4

Sin vs. Human Dysfunction

I feel as if there is a need to make a distinction between sin as depicted in the Bible, and this state of human dysfunction. If we don't make this distinction, struggling Christians will continue to either believe they are still sinners being punished by God, trying to merit God's favour (legalism), or they will foolishly ignore the warning signs that their dysfunction produces (licentiousness). It is not the case that God punishes Christians for their sin, it is more of a case of being less able to function effectively in life, particularly relationships, and to make good decisions.

For instance, health problems related to poor lifestyle, such as a junk food diet and lack of exercise – cannot be attributed to punishment from God. Such health problems are obviously the natural consequences of a person’s lifestyle choices. These poor lifestyle choices are obviously the product of apathy, which in turn is the effect of negative thinking and a bad disposition.

I also believe that people with a good disposition are better able to attract positive people and experiences as a natural consequence. Even this, having positive-minded, good-natured people around you, is itself highly conducive to a good disposition, happiness and success.

Sowing and Reaping

This asserts the Biblical concept of sowing and reaping, which has a lot more to do with the heart than it does to material things. The biggest hindrance to Christians accepting the grace message is that, if rules and the fear of punishment are taken away - there will be nothing to mitigate wrong behaviour and actions.

They need not worry because human dysfunction carries its own means of self-correction. If someone has a disposition that leads them to live reckless lives – whilst it may seem like freedom to them – it will more harmful. If a person has a selfish personality, if they are angry and proud, it will have a detrimental effect on their relationships. Relationships are absolutely vital to life – to happiness and success. So, if your personality does not endear itself to others – you are likely to struggle in life.

My Own Journey

When I look back on my journey through the grace message, I can see the changes in me: my thinking, emotional health and lifestyle. I think that my transition through grace has been paralleled by a steady victory over human dysfunction: fear, pride and so forth. When bad things happened in my life in the past, as a Christian it was often instinctual to think, “God is punishing me for my sin.” But as my beliefs steadily became more entrenched in the grace message – which belief in punishment began to dissipate.

I gradually learning that when bad things happen in my life, it is often no result of my wrongdoing – things happen in life, good and bad, for seemingly no reason at all. But there have also been many times when something unexpected and unwelcome has happened, and I have been able to trace it directly to a fault in me: a bitter attitude, worry, timidity, inability to get on well with a group of people, and so on.

A few years ago I experienced a major battle with pride which culminated in a great deal of struggle, frustration and feelings of utter worthlessness and emptiness. Now that that battle with pride is over with, I find myself in a position whereby the mist is clearing and I find myself happier, more confident and getting on much better with people around me. This has also been mirrored by significant positive changes in my lifestyle and life circumstances.

Sin and Dysfunction – Part 3

Legalism vs. Licentiousness

Some Christians have wholeheartedly accepted the grace message, yet they also strive towards highlighting overindulgence and the abuse of grace: referred to by some as licentiousness. See the blog entry Dead Off Center.

Grace author Dr. Andrew Farley wrote the following recently on his Facebook page:


A. legalism:

1. forgiven, but not really forgiven- still need to ask.

2. free, but not really free- still need the Law for morality.

3. new, but not really new- still need to try to die to self.

4. Christ in us, but not really- out of fellowship half the time.

B. licentiousness:

1. totally forgiven so behavior doesn't matter.

2. totally accepted so behavior doesn't matter.

3. totally new so I never struggle, nor does it matter.

4. Christ is in me, so it's all Him, none of me. I go passive.


1. we are forgiven of all our sins, once for all.

2. we are dead to the law; Christ is the end of the law for us.

3. our old self died; the battle is between the Spirit and flesh.

4. Christ is in me, 24-7, without interruption.

5. behavior matters; it can be an expression of Christ and saves a whole lot of earthly consequences.

The Thought Connection

I, like many others, have made the connection between life's struggles and unhappiness - to a person's thinking. It seems that if people hold on to negative thoughts and beliefs, it gives rise to wrong ideas, emotions, motives, attitudes and, ultimately, behaviour. If you make a habit of reading my posts you'll no doubt see the words dysfunction and disposition a lot - I use these words to try to identify what could be called human dysfunction, which seems to cause problems in people's lives. It’s this human dysfunction that seems to impair a person's confidence, self-esteem, intuition, motivation and character. I suppose the Bible would call this human dysfunction – the flesh.

I see this human dysfunction as being like a sliding scale from debilitating apathy, depression and fear on one end - with a great deal of pride, anger and bitterness on the other. Fear creates an apathy and lethargy, a lack of confidence and feelings of low self-worth, which produce a low energy state, which makes it difficult to do the simplest of things at times. In stark contrast, the high energy state produced by pride and anger can motivate people to action. I think a lot of successful lawyers and greedy businessmen fall into this high energy category.

Sin and Dysfunction – Part 2

Will God Bless You When You Sin?

Whether God will bless you if you sin is a heavily debated topic. I do believe that God can, and will, bless people when they sin. This is sometimes referred to as serendipity and we see evidence of it in the Bible, such as Abraham being made wealthy even when he lied to Pharaoh. Then there are the accounts we read about in the Gospels, when Jesus and His disciples deliberately flouted the religious, Jewish laws – but were justified.

But I notice that those people whose manner, attitude, behaviour and personality do not seem altogether right - tend to struggle somewhat in life. Conversely, I do believe that attaching to the idea that God punishes wrong behaviour, somewhat negates the work of Jesus on the cross. It seems like something of a conundrum.

In fact, the biggest opponent to Christians fully embracing the modern-day grace message appears to be the need to embrace the grace message, live in the freedom of the Gospel – yet somehow militate against wrong beliefs, attitudes and behaviour. It is this reluctance that often leads to heated debates on Christian internet forums.

Living in Freedom

So it seems that the Gospel permits us to sin – but if we love God and the Holy Spirit lives in us, would we really want to do those things that are inappropriate and harmful? Grace is often referred to as a license to sin. Even Darin Hufford of The Free Believers Network believes that this freedom we have in Christ should not be used as an excuse for behaving in a way that is harmful.

When a set of rules is created by a religious institution – it becomes stifling and prevents us from living in freedom. However, I believe that people ought to be allowed to develop their own convictions and opinions when it comes to how they live their life. It is important to find out, through experience, what works for you and what doesn’t – that’s freedom. There is also a need to relax somewhat when it comes to the incessant desire many Christians have, when it comes to forcing their opinions and beliefs on others. At the end of the day, a lot of what we believe is indeed nothing more than personal opinions and preferences.

The Bible says that the works of the flesh are evident (obvious). I believe that we don’t need a law that says we must not steal from other people or commit adultery – these things are obvious. If you need to be quoted a Bible verse that states you must love others, before you will love them – then there is something seriously wrong!

Sin and Dysfunction – Part 1

Sin and Punishment

When we think of sin we typically think of wrong behaviour culminating in some kind of punishment from God - the ultimate punishment being hell. But the Bible is perfectly clear that Jesus bore the sin of the world and was punished on our behalf so that we could be completely righteous before God. There is a notion that if a Christian believes that he is right with God through Christ - he will tend not to sin. I do believe in this, to an extent, because trying to resist sin just makes it worse. This struggle with sin is depicted in the Bible in Romans 7:7-8.

7 Well then, am I suggesting that these laws of God are evil? Of course not! No, the law is not sinful, but it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known the sin in my heart--the evil desires that are hidden there--if the law had not said, "You must not have evil desires in your heart."

8 But sin used this law against evil desires by reminding me that such desires are wrong, and arousing all kinds of forbidden desires within me! Only if there were no laws to break would there be no sinning.

Romans 7:7-8 TLB

So it seems that creating a set of rules enforced by some kind of punishment, such as the Old Testament law, ineffective in preventing people from doing what is wrong. So it would seem that a more effective method against sin is to throw away the rulebook, so to speak, and remove the threat of punishment. When the threat of punishment of sin looms over our heads, it prevents us from living life to the full. There is a need to let go of the fear of that punishment, knowing that Christ already bore that punishment on our behalf. Then we are free to live our lives, making mistakes along the way, like any other ordinary person. For more information on this topic, please read the blog entry The Fear of Sinning.

“Grace Junkies”

There is a belief, based on the Bible, that when you believe in Christ’s righteousness, the divine nature lives in you and causes you to live right. But I have found that just believing that you're right with God does not always seem to stop people from indulging in wrong behaviour, neither does it release them from negative emotions or prevent bad things from happening in their lives. This can lead people to become “grace junkies” as they seek to expose themselves to as much grace teaching that they can lay their hands on. But I wonder if this is the correct approach?

The Divine Nature | TNB