Metallic Pea

Frustrating People Since 1971.

The Secret’s In (Or, The Secret Sin)

with 2 comments

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.’  ~ Matthew 23:27

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Q. 139. What are the sins forbidden in the Seventh Commandment?

A.  The sins forbidden in the Seventh Commandment are  … gluttony …  (Westminster Larger Catechism)

A particular passage in our corporate confession of sin stood out to me this Sunday; in particular, it was the portion in which we asked God’s forgiveness for our ‘appetites not restrained.’ The passage caused me to think about myself and my behaviour regarding that particular sin–and I didn’t like what I saw. (But I am getting ahead of myself.)

 

One might wonder why the Westminster Larger Catechism discusses the sin of gluttony within the context of the Seventh Commandment (You shall not commit adultery) rather than the Sixth (You shall not murder). At first glance, it would seem that overindulgence, which lends itself to adverse health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other maladies which may, when left unchecked, lead to death, would best be placed within the discussion of the heavenly proscription against murder (which encompasses self-destruction). Yet, upon deeper reflection, the Divines’ reasoning becomes increasingly clear and, to my mind, very wise and insightful indeed.

 

When one distills gluttony to its smallest consituent parts it is nothing short of selfishness. When we overindulge in food, drink, or some of the more sinister vices, we are doing so for one reason: to feed our passions. We commit adultery because we place our personal desires ahead of God, who calls us to temperance, discipline, and restraint. We obey our appetites rather than our Lord. And it is no secret that we are a gluttonous society; that is readily apparent in the excesses that permeate our lives. And there is no hiding it.

Or is there?

The more I contemplated gluttony (at least as it pertains to food) I came to an unexpected realisation: Although being overweight is a very public manifestation of gluttony, it is not a certainty that it will follow commission of the sin and, more importantly, it must be distinguished from the action of the sin itself.   Just because one may not outwardly suffer from the consequences of a particular sin, it does not mean that they have not committed that sin.  In other words, whether someone commits fornication is not dependent upon whether they avoid pregnancy as a result, nor is a person exonerated from drunkenness merely because they managed to awaken the next day without a hangover.

And in light of that, I am a glutton.

God has blessed me beyond all I imagined in His gifts to me. Part of those blessings is the land I live on out here in Grimes County. As part of my desire to be a good steward of what He has bestowed upon my family, I work hard to improve my land and make it useful. (You may remember a previous post in which I discussed my fence-building activities.) Cutting and chopping down trees, dragging brush several hundred feet to the burn pile, and splitting the larger portions into firewood is hard work, yet it is work that I enjoy. As one can imagine, I expend a great deal of energy engaging in such activities and burn a significant amount of calories, with the benefit being that maintaining a low body weight has not proven to be much of a task for me.

 

Here is where the Pharisee in me may be seen. When I reflected upon my eating habits I realised that I will sometimes eat two (or three) helpings along with a bowl of ice cream or other dessert because I know in the back of my mind that I will ‘work it all off’ later in the course of my work on my property. I don’t gain weight–but that makes me no less of a glutton. And what seems to make my sin all the more sinister is that it is so easily veiled from others. What I must remind myself of is that overindulging is overindulging, regardless of whether the behaviour manifests itself in a public manner (such as weight gain). And, sadly, I have discovered that, when a sin is easy to hide from others it is even easier to hide it from ourselves.

 

Secret sins are indeed very dangerous. Especially when we can keep them secret from ourselves.

Praise be to God through Jesus Christ, who saves us from our sins–even (or perhaps, especially) our secret ones.

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I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record but Ron Paul has won yet another poll!

 

And still another!

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Here is a clip from one of my favourite movies of all time, ‘Young Frankenstein’:

 

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During the course of his sermon yesterday, Pastor Coleman mentioned Paul’s admonition to ‘pray without ceasing‘ and how that might look in the life of the Christian.  I must admit that I have often wondered how someone could possibly pray that much and, to be honest, whether that is even possible.  To be sure, Paul is being hyperbolic in his epistle; still, the question remains: How exactly does one pray without ceasing? General Stonewall Jackson–a fellow Presbyterian deacon and personal hero of mine–was once posed the same question by an acquaintance.  Jackson insisted that, should a Christian determine to embark on such a course, he could certainly attain it:

When we take our meals there is the grace. When I take a drink of water, I always pause, as my palate receives the refreshment, to lift up my heart to God in thanks and prayer for the water of life. Whenever I drop a letter into the box at the post office I send a petition along with it for God’s blessings upon its mission and upon the person to whom it is sent. When I break the seal of a letter just received I stop to pray to God that He may prepare me for its contents and make it a message of good. When I go to my classroom and await the arrangement of the cadets in their places, that is my time to intercede with God for them. And so of every other familiar act of the day.

 

Oh, that I could be half the Christian the General was!

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Here is a song that made Ashlee cry the first (second, third…) time I played it on my guitar.  It’s To-day’s 1980’s Moment.  And it rocks.

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Written by ninepoundhammer

October 15, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Although “gluttony” is often related to overindulgence in eating, I think that it is justifiable to extend the principle of overindulgence and apply it beyond ingesting food.

    Consider other activities in our culture that we, as a culture, overindulge:

    Television and movie watching.
    Exercising (i.e. work-out-a-holics)
    Internet use (ouch on me!)
    Video games
    Sports (playing or watching)
    Occupation (i.e. work-a-holics)
    and maybe even, “ministry”(!!!)

    I also think that many of our sins bleed over into breaking other commandments than the ones primarily recognized. For example, overindulgence in the above activities can lead to Sabbath breaking as well as the primary sin of idolatry.

    The depths of our sin are vast, who can plumb them? Thanks be to God the Son who plunged himself into this world, into human frailty, into death, fathoming the bottom of our sinful condition even unto bearing the punishment for our sin–God’s wrath–upon Himself, and willingly!

    Joshua

    October 15, 2007 at 1:58 pm

  2. Josh:
    You are absolutely correct. I had the other examples of gluttony you listed in mind but, as you can imagine, if I discussed how many times I fail in many of them, the Internet could not hold all of the examples. (My apologies to the Gospel of John.)

    Matt Lee

    October 15, 2007 at 2:28 pm


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