Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. (James 3:16)
The dictionary definition of DNA is “the fundamental and distinctive characteristics or qualities of someone or something, especially when regarded as unchangeable.” As it relates to the title of today’s message of encouragement, the DNA of sin—that is, the fundamental characteristic of sin—can be summed up in one word: SELF! There is a great deal of biblical truth to the old adage that the letter “I” appears right in the middle of the word sin. Sin occurs when you and I allow self to assume occupancy on the throne of our lives.
You see this malignant root of sin in many words that begin with self . . .
The first thing we must remember about the DNA of sin being rooted in self is this: people who are self-centered are completely unable to please God in any way. Romans 8:8 warns us that “Those controlled by the sinful nature [that is, the self] cannot please God.” When self is in competition with the Savior, we want what we want . . . we want it right away . . . and we want it in precisely in the way we desire.
This sinful striving to satisfy the self began at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden and appears throughout all of sacred Scripture, beginning with Cain murdering his younger brother Abel. We see the DNA of sin in the scheming of Jacob, the larceny of Achan, the adultery of David, the treason of Absalom, the pride of Nebuchadnezzar, the disobedience of Jonah, the denial of Peter, and the murderous hatred of Saul.
But this is not for you! When we review the definition of DNA, we see the words “regarded as unchangeable.” That is a truth we must receive as it relates to the self: we cannot change ourselves. Oh, we can change behaviors for a period of time, and on the surface it may appear that we are a better person. But unless the Lord changes us from the inside out, we have accomplished nothing more than behavior modification. But when Jesus shows up, we are made new, by grace through faith, and behavior does indeed change because the heart has been transformed by an outside agent: the Holy Spirit of God.
Remember, Jesus uses our own self-interest as a grid to gauge our love for others. He has commanded us to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). But that will only happen after our selfish heart of stone has been replaced by the selfless heart of Spirit, a heart that now beats for nothing smaller than our Lord Jesus Christ. To be sure, there will still be times when the self rears its ugly, sinful head. Yet Jesus has promised that no temptation can overcome us unless we give in to it, because the power of the Holy Spirit in us is greater than any power in the world that comes up against us.
Be encouraged, Christian! Your DNA has been changed by the One who loves you unconditionally. And when you do lapse back into exalting “I” instead of the great “I AM,” He forgives you completely and His eternal love for you is utterly unchanged.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!