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On Sin, Arrogance, and Peeling an Onion

By Steven Clark

There are three kinds of arrogance. There is the most surface sort of arrogance that seeks to justify sin. Often this will take the form of saying to ourselves, "But no one was hurt." We say this being blind to how our sin damages both ourselves and our relationship with God. If the sin is against another, this arrogance blames the other, or a third party. We see this in the seven year old boy who isn't watching where he is going, and rams into a wall and loudly proclaims, "I didn't do it!" as he holds his head in pain. We also see it in Adam who blamed God for his sin: "Lord the woman THOU gavest me..."

The second form of arrogance is less deliberate. It is an arrogance that we are unable to see unless we remove ourselves from our society. It often couples with an identity with our nation, but it can also couple with a corporate culture. We saw an extreme example of this in history recently with Nazi Germany. We also see it in the national behavior of world Superpowers. This arrogance has justified the murder of countless multitudes throughout history. It has justified crusades, jihads, lynchings, and genocides. This arrogance reduces God, in our own mind, to the level of our own private Baal. We seek to prove that "our god is better than your god." We see it in the vast multitude of denominations that have fractured western Christianity. We see it lately in the behavior of corporations that seek to impose their will on others in order to capture their precious market share. Wealth so great that can never be spent has been accumulated and lost while multitudes go hungry, and become homeless and sick, while we hypocritically tell ourselves that we don't have enough money to feed the hungry, clothe and shelter the homeless, or to provide health care for the sick. This arrogance is mainly fed by fear. It is fear of another. The fear is born from a lack of trust in the other, in ourselves, and in God.

The third form of arrogance is the most interior. It deposits itself just a few layers from our soul when we first commit any act of arrogance. This arrogance afflicts the entirety of humanity - all who have not sought it out in themselves and cut it out, and have remained watchful for its return. This is an arrogance that deceives us into thinking we know best. It is held up and supported by pride. It is this arrogance that makes us an easy mark for any temptation that may present itself to us. When we pray to God that He "lead us not into temptation," it is this arrogance that we pray against. It is this arrogance that tempts us to "go it alone" in our relationship with God, and not look to the prayers and support of others. It is this arrogance that keeps us from the healing of confession. It is this arrogance that pulls us away from communion with God and His saints.

The cure for all arrogance is humility. Humility acknowledges the arrogance, sets a watch against it, and seeks healing in communion with God and the saints. Humility allows us to trust in God, and in the wisdom of the saints. Humility allows us to call upon God as "Daddy" (Father). If trust has been misplaced and violated, trust may be difficult to develop. However, we are assured that God will heal all who come to Him in humility.

Sin is much like an onion. We try with arrogance to wrap it in a pretty foil so that it will look good and we can pretend that it does not smell. But we must remove our arrogant justifications and look at our behavior, and the motivations that support our behavior, and the attitudes that support the motivations, and so on. At each layer, as we peel it off, we will discover what lies beneath until we peel it down to its core. And the peeling of this onion will bring tears. Close to the core we will find fear that does not easily trust. At the core of the onion of sin is lack of humility.

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Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
The Lord only spoke "woe" to the righteous, who were proud of their righteousness.

Let us be humble and set a watch on our mouth and mind that we lose not the grace of the Spirit. Above all, let us pray to the Lord, for only He can heal the core of our sin.

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