What is Both?
Both is when two are a pair or without the exception of the other. It is another way to say two things are a pair, like “I put on both socks this morning.” Some like to have enough religion to escape hell, but not too much as to avoid what they think is for their own pleasures. They want to have “a foot in both camps.” That is the thinking of a fool.
Truths About Sin
Much can be said about the nature of sin. It is deceitful as it offers something temporary in place of something eternal. It offers happiness but strips away joy. It promises life but it delivers death. Sin is both deceitful because it fails to deliver and destructive, because it has wages that lead to death. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” You cannot, as Jesus said, serve two (both) masters.
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve (both) God and money.”
Is Sin Just Doing the Wrong Thing?
Some think sin is just what we do that is wrong or not doing what we know we should do. Both of those are, indeed, sin. If you read James, he declares sin includes failure to do the right thing. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17
Those who think God sees sin as just bad actions and words are missing the bigger point. Sin is that and not acting when action should be taken. But it is both of those and one more thing. It is a stubborn longing for the wrong thing: envy, greed, covetousness, and lust are all that type of internal evil. Marshall Segal takes the reality of sin deeper. It is both doing the wrong thing and a stubborn longing for the wrong things.
“I feel how slow my heart can be to enjoy God. Sin never prefers God over grain or wine or television or self. And sin still lives in me. As John Piper says, we humans, in our sin, “have a deep, unshakable, compelling preference for other things rather than God” (“What Is Sin?”). This sin isn’t just a lingering tendency to do the wrong thing, but a stubborn longing for the wrong thing. So, Bible reading can sometimes feel burdensome. Prayer can sometimes feel stale. Fellowship can feel forced. Joy in God can feel distant and theoretical.” (1)
To be clear, appreciating grain and wine is not sin. The psalmists celebrate and worship God for both (see Psalm 65:9; 104:19). Our joy in grain and wine and every other good gift from God is meant to kindle our joy in him, not compete with him (James 1:17). Preferring grain or wine or anything else to God is sin. And according to 1 John 1:8, we all, at times, prefer wrongly. We crave lesser, thinner joys over all we have in Christ.” (1)
How to Identify a Follower of Jesus
Their joy isn’t found in what is temporary.
“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7
Five Minute Friday
This post is part of the weekly Five-Minute Friday link-up.
All scripture passages are from the English Standard Version except as otherwise noted.
(1) You Have Put More Joy in My Heart, Marshall Segal is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org