Sin and Coram Deo

[From an email I sent]

For this time around, we once again do not have any MP3 series, but some very interesting and – I hope – edifying articles.

First, two pieces that I happened to read one after the other and they really complemented each other. One is Why Christians Sin: a Failure of Fear, a Failure of Love.

Sin is the most tragic experience of the new life in Christ. We struggle with it. It eats us inside and constantly threatens the delight, joy and peace of our walk with the Lord. It affects our witness and willingness to witness and, in tragic occasions, can devastate entire congregations.

As God’s children, we cry out with Paul: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”(Rom. 7:24). We know what it’s like. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say that the struggle with sin, the all-consuming desire to be perfect like God is perfect (Mat. 5:48) and the dismay at how short we fall of God’s standards (cf. Mat. 5:4) are all together the mark of a genuinely transformed heart and real child of God in Christ.

The article above aims to help us by showing us the root of the problem. We sin because we fail to fear God biblically and love God biblically. We sin because we are not pervaded by God’s hate for sin and we are not pervaded by love for Him. Acknowledging that simple yet profound truth is a big step in dealing with those persistent, weed-in-the-garden sins that plague us like harpies every single day. The sins that are secret and we’d die if anyone found out; the sins that we’re constantly asking the Lord to forgive us for.

And this is where I want to bring in the next article: Confession is not Propitiatory. Allow me to explain the eye-glazing title: Seeking the Lord’s forgiveness is perfectly and immensely Scriptural. I wouldn’t even know where to begin referring to passages, but I think – and hope – that our collective minds instantly run to 1 John 1: 9: “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Amen to that! But because of the sad frequency of our sin-repent-confess-forgive process, this blessed privilege often becomes the means of dealing with sin, as opposed to the blood of Christ that “cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). What I mean is, we judge the forgiveness we receive from God on the basis of how “good” our repentance was. Did I cry enough? Did I feel enough? Did I ask enough? Did I… Something like judging if you’re saved on the basis of your “salvation experience” (Did I pray the right prayer? Did I feel it enough? Did I say the right words? Did I…).

The article extensively quotes an 1861 sermon (PDF) that Spurgeon preached, and we couldn’t say it any better than him. I wholeheartedly recommend both article and sermon.

Let me close with this. The old reformers used to think of life as lived comprehensively and constantly in the presence of God. They were right (cf. Psalm 139:7). And, being lovers of profound sound bites (sola, solus etc), they called this “Coram Deo” – Latin for “before the face of God.” When I came across this truth, it helped me – and still does – to go through every day reminding myself that I spend every single nanosecond before my Father’s presence. Before the eyes of the Lord.

You’d be surprised at the effect it has – on sin, on the mind, on the heart, on the most seemingly mundane and trivial task.

One thought on “Sin and Coram Deo

  1. Amen! Remembering “coram deo” is highly valuable. You mentioned above how sin can tear people up inside, especially secret sin. Living life “coram deo” in wholesome righteousness brings great joy, but repeated sin brings that feeling of forsakeness – the presence of God is still palpable, but as sin grows worse that presence makes the sinner more and more uncomfortable. I wrote about this very thing on my blog not too long ago… in some sense, sin is its own punishment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.