My Sin Is Always Before Me

by Edmond Lo
First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7

Romans 5:12-19

Matthew 4:1-11

“For I know my offense; my sin is always before me” (Ps. 51:5), so we hear from the psalm chosen specifically for this Sunday.

A false name is used to share this real story in order to protect the person's identity. Jack was a devout Christian. Unfortunately, he had committed adultery with a woman who was not only a friend of Jack's family but also a fellow congregant. Their adulterous relationship somehow became public, and the other party threatened to use it against Jack and his family in their church, leaving him with no choice but to confess the affair to his wife and children. For the sake of their family, the wife decided to forgive her husband. Together as a couple they were prepared to put the whole painful and unglamorous mess behind them and begin anew their relationship. Except that the other party was not prepared to let go.

Hurt and jealous, the woman went before the church congregation to accuse Jack of cheating and infidelity. In the months and years after, the humiliation and lingering guilt proved just too much to bear for both husband and wife. Eventually they had to leave the congregation and soon after the town.

When a grave sin is committed, uprooting is the result. For sin is destructive and haunting; it doesn't just go away. As the Psalmist says, “I know my offense; my sin is always before me” (Ps. 51:5).

When the first human family, established in Adam, sinned and fell from grace, the uprooting took the form of banishment from Eden where man once lived in the bliss of God. It only makes sense then for Adam's family, now in tatters and condemned because of Adam's disobedience and transgression, to be restored and acquitted because of Christ's - the New Adam (cf. Romans 5:14) - obedience and righteousness.

Christ, in other words, has reversed the “uprooting” to bring the human family back to Eden, or heaven, where man will once again live in the bliss of God. Obviously, Jack would love to have his own uprooting reversed if it is possible. The good news is that it is. He just needs God to create in him a clean heart and renew within him a steadfast spirit (cf. Ps. 51:12); he needs, in a word, true repentance. Man must turn to God, and let His mercy and Jesus' saving grace take care of the rest.