How Does the Doctrine of Sin Inform My Theology of Leadership?
By Pierre Bitar
As I was writing my blog, my younger daughter came to me and asked if she could use my smartphone for only one minute. After an hour, I realized that the phone was not on the desk. I called her to bring my phone. When she came I asked her, “Why did you not tell me you needed the phone for longer time?”
She replied, “If I tell you, you will not let me use the phone for a longer time.”
At this moment I spoke to her, “You need to be honest with yourself, and with me, from the beginning. Give me the right to say you can use my phone or you can’t.”
She ended the conversation by saying, “Sorry, Dad, I will not do this again.”
Sin entered the world when Adam ate from the tree in the Garden of Eden that God had prohibited. From this point, human became sinful by nature; that he inherited from Adam. No one can teach humans how to sin, we figured that out by ourselves. The history of the human race as presented in Genesis 3 is primarily a history of man in a state of sin and rebellion/disobedience against God. We may define sin, as follows: Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude and nature. So, any action, (even one resulting from wrong attitudes and motives) that harms the relationship we have with God and/or another person, is sin. Sin broke the connection we have with God and separated us from Him. Therefore, mankind missed the mark of God's holy standard of morality. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mathew 5: 27-28). There are various ways in which we fail to meet His standard of righteousness. Sin includes not only individual acts such as stealing, lying or committing murder, but also the heart attitudes. Jeremiah sees the ways of the people of Judah and the fruit of their deeds which grow out of an internal condition of the heart, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17: 9). We cough because we have a cold; when cold bacteria enters our bodies we become ill. In the same way, we sin because we are sinners, by nature and choice, and this produces “idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies” (Galatians 5:20). This is a condition of the heart with humankind, unfortunately, with redeemed believers as well. It is easy for the Christian to be tempted every single minute and choose to sin. I believe that the ultimate need today is for godly people to speak the Truth and teach the Word of God faithfully. Leaders are the ones who should speak the Truth, and no less than truth. They tend to lead their congregations to maintain a clean heart and life by the ministry of preaching the Word of God. John Chrysostom gives his solution for sin, “only one means and only one method of treatment available that is teaching by the word of mouth. That is the best instrument, the best diet, and the best climate. It takes the place of medicine and cautery and surgery. When we need to cauterize or cut, we must use this. Without it all else is useless.” I remember my pastor in Egypt always taught about purity of heart and lead his congregation into this approach. In addition, he had discipleship groups and a vision for training generations to be servants and leaders in God’s field. On the other hand, it is a matter of fearing God in our heart and choosing not to sin.
I believe God’s Word is like a mirror in which we see ourselves as God does. It speaks by itself and convicts the heart. Through the Word, we discover the areas where we have been faithful, and also the places where we’ve sinned and deviated from His path. God’s Word is able to expose the sin and the attitude of the heart. Then the Holy Spirit can transform the heart to be more like Christ. To become the person that God plans me to be, requires me to allow the Word of God to work in my life as I read it daily and meditate on it. Becoming the person God planned to be, requires an intimate relationship with Him and a desire to obey His Word. Disobedience is the biggest issue in the story of Adam and Eve. They fall because of disobedience. When we obey God’s Word and allow His Word to dwell in us, then a change will take place as we choose daily not to commit sin.