At the young adult Bible study for Evangel Baptist this week we had another great discussion that was a bit of a rabbit trail. For some reason, I ended up referring to an observation I remembered Larry Osborne making in his book A Contrarians Guide to Knowing God. In the list of all the kings of Judah in the Old Testament, there is usually a negative summation of a king’s reign (“He did evil in the eyes of the Lord”). But check out what 2 Kings 14: 2-3 says about Amaziah son of Joash:
He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. (NIV)
How could somebody be evaluated as one who did right in God’s eyes but allow idols to other gods remain in his kingdom? Osborne calls them blind spots. There are things that we do that are evil, but God shows extra grace because we are culturally inept to fully deal with the error of our ways.
In our day it may be how we live extravagantly while others suffer, like some of the better kings of Israel and Judah. Or, dare I say it, pornography? Fifty years ago we weren’t being bombarded by images and then given unlimited, free access to see more. There are people reading this who feel shame for these things that hinder them from experiencing life to the fullest extent. I’m sure there are others cultural vices I can’t think of (they’re called “blind spots” after all). Do you think of greed and pornography as super sins? Amaziah, by the way, was breaking the first two commandments and was still considered to have done what was right in God’s eyes. It’s a comforting thought for those of us with Romans 7 struggles.
But there’s significant danger with this line of thought. If we know that we can still be considered righteous in God’s eyes despite our difficulties, then we open ourselves up to fall into temptation because, we reason, God gives us a pass on a particular sin. There’s also the danger of us becoming the decision-makers regarding what is acceptable sin and what isn’t. Sin is never acceptable to God. The same subjectivity that creates our blind spot becomes the tool we use to decipher what God is saying to us in the Bible. You can catch this with pastors who preach for an hour and those listening never have reason to open the text he or she is supposed to be referring to. They’re like scientists trying to figure out what dolphins are saying based on human language. They translate what they’re hearing based on what it sounds like to them, but the reality is that there is absolutely no correlation.
I wouldn’t trash the blind spot idea, though. The Bible says what is says after all, so it’s worth the discussion. It’s an area where we need to tread lightly. But there are tough spiritual ills that can seriously weigh you down. For people struggling with sin in the Romans 7 fashion, feel free to read the first two verses of Romans 8 that kind of give a New Testament spin to Amaziah’s situation: So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (NLT)