Paul Tripp

President of Paul Tripp Ministries

Psalm 51: Sin is a Relationship

Sin is much, much more than the violation of a set of rules. Sin is more profound then rebellion against a moral code. Sin is about something deeper than behaving inappropriately. It's deeper than bad actions and wrong words.

When you witness the body of an infant who's not yet able to communicate with words, stiffen up in anger, you know you're dealing with something bigger, deeper, more fundamentally disturbing than a failure to observe a code of conduct. The infant is angry because you're asking him to do what he doesn't want to do. He's outraged that you'd presume to give him directions. He wants to be the king and lawgiver in his own little universe of one. He doesn't want to live under the authority of another. He wants to make up his own rules; rules that would, of course, follow the shape of what he wants, what he feels, and what he determines he needs. The only thing that would actually satisfy him is the one thing that he'll never have, God's position. He was created to live under authority, not to be that authority. So he fights his subjugation in a vain quest for self-sovereignty.

It's the desire to be God rather than to serve God that's at the bottom of every sin that anyone has ever committed. Sin isn't first rooted in a philosophical debate of the appropriateness or healthiness of a certain ethic. No, sin is rooted in my unwillingness to find joy in living my life under the authority of, and for the glory of, Another. Sin is rooted in my desire to live for me. It's driven by my propensity to indulge my every feeling, satisfy my every desire, and meet my every need.

This is why David says, "Against you, you only, have I sinned..." He isn't denying the enormity of his sin against Bathsheba, his violation of his calling to the citizens of Israel, or his capital crimes against Uriah, Bathsheba's husband. What he's understanding in his confession is that every sin is against God. In his conviction, David understands that sin is an act of relationship, or better stated, a violation of the one relationship that's to be the shaping factor of everything I do or say. Every sin is vertical, no matter how thunderous the horizontal implications of it are. It's God, for whom and through whom we were created to live, whose boundaries that we step over, because we don't love him the way that we should.

Because sin is about the breaking of relationship, restoration of relationship is the only hope for us in our struggle with sin. It's only because God is willing to love us in a way that we refuse to love him, that we have any hope of defeating sin. It's through the gift of adoption into relationship with him, that we find what we need to gain power over sin. And what do we need? A greater love for him than we have for ourselves. His love for us is the only thing that has the power to produce in us that kind of love for him.

Sin is a relationship and it takes relationship to deliver us from sin. Christ was willing to experience the rejection that our rebellion deserves so that we could have the relationship with God that's our only hope as we grapple with the selfishness of sin. 

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About Paul Tripp

Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. For more information, visit http://www.paultrippministries.org/store

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