Getting Deep into Sin: Moving Beyond Our Therapized Sin Through Christ

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” -Luke 7:40-8

So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” -Luke 5:1-8

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. -II Corinthians 5:20-1

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. -Galatians 3:19-25

The above passages are only a sampling of the many other pertinent passages that could have been added to this list. But I want to highlight something I think most Christians have lost sight of. That is, that without being pressed up and into the depth of our sin, as that is understood in the light of God’s Light for us in Jesus Christ, we fail to appreciate the gravitas of God’s holiness. Or inversely, without being participants in God’s life in Christ (participatio Christi), we have no capacity to know the depth of just how sinful we are. The Apostle Peter came to this realization on the fishing boat as he stood there with Jesus as the Son of God in his midst. When I think of Peter in this way I can’t but help to think of Isaiah as he similarly stood before God at the altar, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” This self-knowledge of our unholiness only becomes possible as God has freely chosen to elect our humanity for Himself in Jesus Christ, enter into it in actualized and ‘economized’ way, and penetrate the depth of our fallen humanity with the deeper depth of His majestic humanity made humble consonant with His already Life as the eternal Son of the eternal Father by the eternal Holy Spirit. He brings the inner-sanctum of God’s “Holy, Holy, Holy” Life into the dust of our unholy lives, and takes those lives where we could or never would take them ourselves; to the death of death. But it is in this taking that we come to have vision of just how dreadful our fallen status is; we come to have this capacity through the risen eyes of Jesus’ resurrected humanity for us. It is in this depth reality the Christian becomes enliven to the depth of their own inhumanity apart from the gracious adoption of God in His Son for us, Jesus Christ.

We live in a world of platitudes. We inhabit a sitz im leben where the Christian existence is clinicalized, therapyized, academized, and sensationalized. In this world the Christian loses touch with the concrete of God’s flesh and blood reality of His sacrifice and substitution for us. When we lose this Holy correspondence provided for by the skin and bone of Jesus Christ, it is easy for us to paper over just how sinful we are in an attempt to bridge the gap between God and ourselves through our own therapeutic efforts. But the salvation of God for the world knows no such Pelagian effort, it rejects all types of synergistic energies, and instead pushes the Christian’s face into the menstrual rags of their own self-generated-righteousnesses. Until the Christian feels and faces the depth of their own filthy and futile hearts, as that is provided space for through the Holiness of God for them in Jesus Christ, such Christians will not be able to ‘elevate’ into a knowledge and thus experience of God wherein the scarred and bruised heel of the resurrected Christ makes contact into their lives in meaningful ways. Outwith this ‘contact’ in a real way the Christian’s existence is doomed to a superficial type of Christianity that can only result in focuses on an incurved self-possessed existence that is given expression in a variety of vainglorious efforts of an ostensibly-formed Christian life.

3 thoughts on “Getting Deep into Sin: Moving Beyond Our Therapized Sin Through Christ

  1. Yes… wretched in our sin that is personally settled within and enacted routinely; yet even so, we are wonderfully created as to bear “the Holiness of God for us in Jesus Christ”… by dying to sin and being born anew to the life that is lived by faith in the Son of God… the cruciform life of Christ. Thanks be to God!

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  2. I had a commenter/reader of this post (and the blog in general) reach out to me via email with some questions about this post. I wanted to share his question here (I’ll keep his name anonymous unless he wants me to share it later). But here is his email to me, and then my response:

    Hi Bobbi [sic] 😉 :

    I have been following your blog for some time and enjoying it very much – thank you! As a therapist, who is still learning his theology, I have a question for you about one of your comments in today’s blog (15 January 2022).You write “We live in world of platitudes. We inhabit a sitz im leben where the Christian existence is clinicalized, therapyized, academized, and sensationalized.” While I have a strong sense that what you are referring to is negative, I really don’t understand what you mean about ‘clinicalized, therapyized’ etc. Would you be in a position to give me some specific examples of behaviours, situations etc. that illustrate what you mean? Please have patience with me. I am a therapist and therapists live in the world of the concrete, and the specific. I find that some of our theologians get too abstract. Rest assured, however, that I find your blog to be thoughtful, insightful and stimulating. Thank you for taking the time to consider my request, and I look forward to hearing from you as you are able.


    My response:

    Hello _______

    Thanks for being a reader of the blog, always like making contact with readers. What I am referring to is what sociologist Christian Smith has identified as moralistic therapeutic deism; or what philosopher and sociologist Charles Taylor talks about in his book A Secular Age in regard to therapeutic culture. Basically it’s the Enlightenment idea that human beings are the measure of themselves. As a result maladies and the like, as those are culturally constructed, can be overcome as WE identify them as such, deconstruct them, and reconstruct new standards for normalcy and self-acceptance (and thus actualization). Critical theory comes to mind here.

    We get softer versions of this in the evangelical subcultures which typically focus on self-help with the goal of making people feel self-secure without ever dealing with the crisis of identity that the cross of Christ ought to be hearkening Christians to again and again. That is, in this self-help/actualized world people are never forced to face the actual depth of evil (insofar as that can be grasped) in their own hearts. This has a corollary with a diminished view of God in Christ, and a lack of sense of just what exactly Christ accomplished in the Incarnation&Atonement. Without this depth reality informing the Christian’s existence they fail to appreciate the actual resurrection and recreative power of Christ in their lives. As a result, and in this vacuum, they attempt to comfort themselves by “natural” models of self-salvation wherein their self-perceived “issues” are overcome by naturalistic and even deistic forms of “secular” therapy (prooftexted with various Scripture passages).

    At a popular level, in the evangelical subculture, a concrete example of this could be all the literature on self-help. This can also be observed in many sermons being preached from various mainstream evangelical churches across the land. The focus is on an incurved self, and the antidote is how that self can work itself out of this by focusing on the power of positive thinking etc. Another iteration of this might be critical race theory and the way that is making inroads into the church world. An integralist theory based not on revelation, but on a naturalistic anthropology which presupposes that we have the enlightened rationalistic capacity to save ourselves in a functional deistically formed world.

    More to say, but that’s all I have for now.


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