“An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: there is no fear of God before his eyes” (Psalm 36:1).
ONE OF THE DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS OF SIN IS THAT IT IS SELF-CENTERED. The fact that sin destroys our relationship to God is not surprising when we consider the self-centeredness that is at work. How can we not be cut off from God when we turn inward, cease to take Him into serious account, and dismiss Him from our decision-making? Fellowship with God requires, at the very least, that our attention be turned in His direction.
We perhaps do not see ourselves as being angry, deliberate rebels against God — we simply disregard Him. We may even “worship” Him on Sunday morning, but His will is of little real concern to us on Monday morning. In deed if not in word, we declare our independence and demand the right to satisfy our own longings in our own way. And having given us the freedom of our will, God will allow us to do this. But we cannot have it both ways at once. We cannot disregard God and still maintain our fellowship with Him. This will not work even on Sunday morning.
“Concerning the transgression of the wicked,” David observed that there is “no fear of God before his eyes.” The person described here is one we’ve all met many times, perhaps even in the mirror. This is the person who knows little about real reverence. He or she is self-sufficient, content to satisfy self in whatever way seems best at the moment. Reverence may be acceptable in theory, this person would say, but in practice it shouldn’t stand between us and the things we really desire.
And so it happens that we cease to seek God and we come to be people who are primarily occupied with ourselves. If any vestige of religion is left in our lives, that too becomes self-centered, a personally-designed spirituality that conceives of God in whatever ways are most congenial to our own lifestyles. But even as we do this, God is patiently waiting for us to return to Him and begin taking Him seriously. He is ready to begin undoing the damage that we’ve done in the headlong pursuit of our “selves.”
“Sin has four characteristics: self-sufficiency instead of faith; self-will instead of submission; self-seeking instead of benevolence; self-righteousness instead of humility” (E. Paul Hovey).