As Romans 7 reminds us, even believers like the apostle Paul continue to struggle with sin in this life. Progress in holiness is really possible by God’s wonderful grace (see prior post on that issue here), but we will never be fully rid of sin while still in this life. So, the question then becomes: How do I diagnose and respond to the sin patterns in my life? Well, there are two basic answers to that in our world: a therapeutic answer and a biblical answer.
The therapeutic answer is that (a) the cause of your problems is outside yourself (your upbringing, your parents, society), and (b) the solution to your problems is inside yourself (more self-esteem, more self-awareness, more self-acceptance, more self-reliance, etc.). The biblical answer is virtually the opposite: (a) the cause of your problems is inside yourself (a corrupt, sinful nature), and (b) the solution to your problems is outside yourself (the redeeming power of Christ).
In order for us to take the biblical approach to our sin, and not just a therapeutic one, we have to diagnose ourselves in light of what Scripture says. In other words, theological and biblical categories should dominate our thinking, not psychological ones.
On that score, I have to mention again my wife’s wonderful new book, The Envy of Eve, which strives to do precisely that. She tackles the challenging issue of contentment within a scriptural framework, rather than in the Oprah Winfrey-style framework our world is so attuned to. In fact, a recent review of her book over at The Upward Call sums it up nicely:
This book was such a refreshing read in comparison to many other Christian women’s books which try to excuse bad tendencies by making all women out to be “victims” in some manner. My tendency to have covetous attitudes about female friendships could be because I was bullied in junior high school and suffer from fear of rejection. But no, it’s not; my struggle comes from not accepting the things as good that God has given me. It coms from wanting something someone else has. This book forces the reader to take a long, hard look into her own heart, and I think that is really needed in this age of therapeutic Christian reading.
I highly recommend this book for women of all ages.