I think we are casual sinners and that is not good. I believe that we are in a cocoon of God's grace, which means that when we fail God gently picks us up with his grace, dusts us off with his forgiveness and encourages us to keep going with his love. Fantastic stuff and I praise him all the more for this, but I think we have grown too casual with the acceptance of our sin. I think we are too comfortable with it and forget the pain that it cause our Father. I think we forget what it is to repent, how devastating sin is to our soul and because of it we make very little effort to avoid it. If we understood how passionate God was in his hatred toward sin, we would not be so casual about it.
King David, an imperfect man with a passionate love for God, understood the sting of sin. He understood its devastating effects on his soul and in his relationship with God:
O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
For your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down upon me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
my bones have no soundness because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. (Psalm 38:1-4)
David was as passionate about expressing his sin to God, as passionate about feeling its effects as he was about his love for God. Maybe that's our problem. Maybe we don't love as we aught to love. Maybe our love is more a casual love and we have not even approached the level of passion that we need in order to have a clear understanding of the effects of sin. David is exquisite in his expression of conviction:
My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. (Psalm 38:5-8)
When you have a casual relationship with someone you tend not to notice how your actions impact them. You really don't know them all that well. It's not like your best friend, your sister, or your spouse. Those people you know with greater passion and you can see immediately how your actions affect them. Until there is repentance and forgiveness for your sin against them, there is wall that forms in the relationship, a distance is created:
I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear,
like a mute, who cannot open his mouth;
I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. (Psalm 38:13-14)
This is a good thing, a proper thing because it means that we regret deeply what we have done and true repentance is produced in this place. It is not that we need to bear the guilt for our sins for long or have to sit around in sackcloth and ashes. We live in an age of God's great grace and forgiveness is an easy thing for our Father. There is a difference between David and us in that we have God living in us. We don't have to go seeking him and the conviction of our wrong doing should come quickly. Repentance should be just as quick, but it should not be a casual thing.
If we are losing the sting of sin we need to quickly examine where we are with Jesus. If we are casual about our sin I think we may find that we are also casual about our love. Our pursuit should never be a "getting by" but always a deepening of our passion for Jesus. His great love for us and ours for him should cause any sin to stand out like a mountain in our life. We should feel its effects deeply and just as passionately seek forgiveness for our failings. We don't beat ourselves up but instead we put our energy into doing what is right. Beating ourselves up will not accomplish anything but fill us with a false sense of guilt. If we feel our sin deeply then we will want to do the only thing that will correct the situation: repent and receive the forgiveness of our Lord who loves us without fail.
You sinned? Okay, you are no different than the rest of us. Recognize the damage sin does to your relationship with our Father. Hate that thing. Hate the affect it has. Hate how it separates. Hate it so much that you refuse to entertain it any more. Turn to Jesus, confess your sin, repent of it and receive with gladness and joy the forgiveness he gives to you. Now shake off those effects, get up off your knees and move forward in your service and grow in your passion for the Lord. Let that sting of sin lend to you a new determination to hate sin and to avoid it at all cost. That is the right thing to do with sin. Don't become a casual sinner.