“Whatever does not derive from your attitude of total dependence upon God, whatever does not release God’s activity through your life, is sin. It is sin because it stems from an attitude of independence.” – Major Ian Thomas
Sin is not something we like to talk about too much. But here goes…
This quote came to my attention a few years back when I was reading through a devotional called The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me. It was written by Major Ian Thomas who started Torchbearers, an international community of Bible schools (one of which I attended during my college years). I had already read his most well-known book, The Saving Life of Christ, but ended up enjoying his devotional even better.
I think what I liked about this quote was the fresh way it looked at the definition of sin in our lives. I had previously heard sin described as “missing the mark” and this usually just made me feel that it wouldn’t or shouldn’t happen if I just tried a bit harder.
But you see, I know I don’t depend totally on God for everything and I for sure know that God isn’t as active in my life as I would like Him to be. And “an attitude of independence” sounds a lot to me like what I call the “illusion of control” in my life. We, especially those of us in American culture, like to think we control our own destinies when in reality this is simply not the case. God is ultimately the one in control.
And so, to realize that trying to live independent of God was in fact sin sure made sense to me. In some ways it made the concept of sin easier to handle but in other ways it made it a whole lot harder. Things became easier because with this new definition I felt I was able to stop thinking I could somehow become “sinless” on my own if I just tried hard enough. But things also became harder because I finally saw that sin in my life wasn’t a matter of merely subtracting the bad but also failing to add in what was good and holy.
I am reminded of Jeremiah 10:23-34 (NLT), “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle.” At some point we all learn our lives are not our own. And, as much as the planner in me would like it, I can’t plan out the entire course of my life. Therefore, the way this quote hit me was perhaps one way God was “correcting” me.
This new way of looking at my independence from God was not a downer for me by any means. In a way, it also inspired me to try to depend on Him more and allow God into my life more and more so that He could continue to work in and through me. It opened my eyes to see God in new and fresh ways.
It is my belief that this is a good thing, a necessary thing. That as we grow and mature in our faith we should be interacting with and viewing God differently than we did before. This quote was one thing that did just that in my own life!