Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated… 9 For with thee is the fountain of life, in thy light do we see light.
Psalm 36:1, 2, 9
Words are a fascinating thing. They have an intrinsic meaning yet over time it seems the meaning can change. Societies change the meaning of words all the time as people begin to use them in ways they were not intended. The changes aren’t necessarily made on purpose and they don’t happen over night. Yet, they do change. I think one of the most dangerous yet consistent contributing factors to such change in words is a lack of education. When we fail to speak about things as they should be we are limiting the knowledge of those things for the next generation. I fear that is the answer to Dr. Karl Menninger’s question from the title to his classic book, What Ever Became of Sin?
Transgression is a fancy word for ‘sin’. The Psalmist speaks from his own experience. He knows he has sinned (transgressed) against God. You need only to read Psalm 51 to hear David’s broken and contrite heart as he confesses his sin to God. But how did David know his sin? He was raised by God-fearing parents who no doubt taught him the meaning of the word. He knew that his choices to satisfy his own desires rather than obey God’s law were sin. Sin is always a matter of our choices. While theologically there are sins of ignorance we commit as flawed humans, those are not the kind of sins David speaks about in the opening verses of Psalm 36. The sin that separates us from God and scars our conscience, the kind that speaks wickedly deep into our hearts is the sin we willfully choose.
Today, I believe we are in danger of completely losing the meaning of sin. Things understood as sin for millennia are now being tolerated in a measure that is even raising them to the status of normal behavior. Dr. Menninger knew and taught that there is no mental health without moral health. The present culture of death we see around us is crying out for someone to speak moral truth into their lives – but where are the preachers? Where is the message that sin kills and destroys from the inside out?
David knew in his heart that God could see his sin yet he couldn’t get to healing by himself. Without truth preached to him, he wasted away from within…
“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.” (Psalm 32:3)
It took the Prophet Nathan confronting the King, after his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, to bring David to repentance. When confronted with the truth of God’s word, David knew he must confess if he ever wished to be whole again, to have the joy of the Lord restored to his soul. I’m so glad Nathan wasn’t afraid to preach on sin.
What troubles you today? What aches deep within your heart? Perhaps it has been buried so deep you don’t even know it’s there anymore. Yet, you can’t explain the emptiness you feel inside. You can’t seem to understand why life is not fulfilling. I hope that doesn’t describe you, but if it does, allow me to be Nathan to you today. May the words of my mouth be for your edification, that you may not languish in sin, but know the joy repentance…
“Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:12)
“For with thee is the fountain of life, in thy light do we see light.” (Psalm 36:9)
image credit: http://joymag.co.za/article.php?id=519