Sin and love are profoundly related. All of us long to feel loved, to feel the acceptance and fullness that only come from being loved deeply. Sin is our response to the fear that we have lost those feelings of love and fullness. Therefore every sin is, at its core, a failure to grasp the love of Christ. How does this work?
Let’s imagine that a sin you wrestle with is approval idolatry. (It’s easy for me to illustrate with this one because it is a personal struggle.) You long for the approval of others. You long for others to think highly of you – to think you are successful or attractive or smart. You experience happiness and delight when others do think those things about you. And you begin to experience anxiety and fear when you perceive that others don’t think those things about you.
At its core, this is a love issue. In your heart, you have sensed a love deficiency. In your inner being, you have longed to be loved more. Therefore you have sought to fill that deficiency through the approval of others. If the idolatry that grips your heart isn’t approval, but is instead something like power, control, pleasure, or comfort, the root issue is still a matter of love. Because you feel that you aren’t fully loved, you seek to fill your heart with assurance that you matter, that your life means something, by exercising power and control over others. Or by finding as much pleasure as possible. Or by making your life as “secure” and comfortable as possible. Each of these sinful patterns takes a foothold in your life because you don’t feel fully loved.
At this juncture, we must consider a problem and a solution. What’s the problem? Approval, power, control, security, and whatever else grips my heart will never make me feel as full as I long to feel. No matter how highly others think of me, I will still feel empty. And I will be ruined by the fear that something might happen and I might lose their approval. That’s why I say that your sin doesn’t really love you. No matter how full sin might make you feel for a moment, it doesn’t give you what your heart is really longing for. Because what your heart is really longing for is perfect love. Eternal love. Unconditional love. Your heart is longing for the love of Christ.
No matter how full sin might make you feel for a moment, it doesn’t give you what your heart is really longing for. Because what your heart is really longing for is perfect love.
That brings us to the solution. May we commit to prayerfully and earnestly seeking to grasp Christ’s love in all its fullness (see Eph 3:14-19). Only Christ will love you despite the sinful wandering of your heart, for his love is wide. Only Christ will love you and never forsake you, as he has loved you from before the foundation of the earth, for his love is long. Only Christ will love you unto the right hand of the Father, for his love is high. Only Christ has loved you through immense personal pain, torment, and sacrifice, for his love is deeply sacrificial. Only Christ loves you the way your heart longs to be loved.
Every sin is a failure to grasp how fully we are loved in Christ. Every repentance is a return to full-hearted faith in the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. May the Lord grant us more of this repentance; may he grant us the power to grasp the enormous scope of his love.