Tuesday, February 10, 2009

White Collar Criminals

For many years, I did not understand that I was depraved. I knew I was a sinner, but I didn't think I was that bad. After all, there were many people out there who had sinned far worse than me. I understood that Christ had died for my sins, but they were only "white collar crimes." I wasn't depraved. At least I didn't think so.

Depravity, as far as I was concerned, was something one measured on a sliding scale: Serial killers on one end, Mother Teresa on the other. Perverse, evil, morally corrupt, wicked - these were all words to describe depraved behavior. But depravity is something much more compelling than this. Depravity is not something we measure by our behavior, because depravity is a condition that affects the human heart. Depravity is the complete and total inability to stop sinning in one's own power.

There is sin in your life. You may be aware of it, you may not. But it's there. Think about it. Right now, there is some sin in your life that you have not repented of. I'm not talking about the obvious examples, like drugs, alcohol, sex, lying through your teeth, shoplifting, etc. I'm talking about whatever it is that renders you, at this very moment, less than perfect.

Romans 1:18-32 discusses the depravity of humankind. For the first 13 years of my walk with God, I never saw myself in this passage. But one day God compelled me to look closer -- and I was stunned by what I saw:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Have you ever suppressed the truth? Have you ever insisted that words like "submission" are outdated and certainly not meant for the modern woman?
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Have you ever made excuses for your "preferred doctrines," even though God has made the truth evident to you? Have you ever made excuses for why it was okay for you to usurp the leadership role from a man to whom it was rightfully given?
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
How many times did I profess to know something by looking to psychologists and sociologists for answers when it came to relationships between men and women? How many times did I look to stupid secular magazines for advice, rejecting the Word of God, exchanging it for a lie, and profess to be wise by doing so?
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
I thought this passage was not about me. I am not involved in homosexual behavior. Remember, I am just a white collar criminal. But the only difference between me and the person in this passage is that God did not give me over to my debased mind. For whatever reason, He chose to save me from it.
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,[a] wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,[b] unmerciful;
Can any of us deny that this is an accurate description of us, even now? When was the last time you had a covetous, malicious thought? Have you whispered lately? Are you proud? Untrustworthy? Unloving? Unforgiving? All of these describe the condition of my heart even now, after sixteen years of knowing the Lord.
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
How many times did I cast this passage off as an indictment of the sexually perverse? Meanwhile, I clung to my man-bashing habits, my "girl-power" attitude, my admiration for the "independent woman." Oh, not only did I engage in these behaviors, there I was, giving hearty approval to others who practiced this as well.

I was a Christian for 13 years before God had revealed to me that I was living in sin. I had an idea that my attitude was not pleasing to Him. But depraved? Certainly not! Remember, I am just a white collar criminal.

But white collar criminals are still criminals.

5 comments:

Natasa said...

great text but what is meaning of phrase 'white collar'... I know that some priest wear white collar but I don't get all meaning...

Daughter, Arise! said...

This is a great post. Last year I had what I call my "You're not all that!" wake up call from God. I thought I had it going on and was devastated (and pridefully shocked) to have it revealed through the Word that I did not, not even remotely. :o)

The word of the Lord is sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

How sweet is the Word of God!

Betsy Markman said...

WOW, this is POW-erful! Awesome, convicting, pulling no punches. This is going to be a great month on your blog for sure.

Jennifer said...

Natasa, Sorry about that! A white collar worker is a professional who wears a suit to work, or at least a nice shirt and tie (hence the white collar).

A "white collar criminal" is someone who commits crimes that usually go hand in hand with money, and many of these crimes are committed in the workplace. Embezzlment, extortion, tax evasion, fraud, etc. We call these "white collar crimes," because nobody really gets hurt. So they steal a little money or cheat on their taxes -- at least no one is killed. Stealing in this manner is also a bit more high-class than robbing a bank with a gun. I don't know if this makes sense or not, but wikipedia has an entry on white-collar crime. You can click here to read it.

Jennifer said...

Betsy/Sonya, the first time I realized Romans 1 is talking about a lifestyle was in 2005 (I was saved in 1993!) Even though I was a Christian, I was living a lifestyle of pride. I had no excuse. How was my lifestyle different from a homosexual lifestyle? I was absolutely horrified when I realized that I was not excluded from this passage and also a bit frightened once it dawned on me that literally, the only thing separating me from the Hannibal Lecters in this world is Jesus. It was almost like a second born-again experience for me!