"What's my motivation for this scene?" - Reid at Faith Gambler asked a very good question in his post, "What makes you avoid Sin, when you know You're going to be Forgiven?"
He does a good job of answering the question and naturally he got me thinking on the subject.
In asking the question to members of two Bible studies he came up with basic answers:
1. God tells us to
2. They'd feel guilty if they didn't
3. Its the right thing to do
4. A way to pay back God
These are good reasons, but as he noted there are several problems with them.
Reid went on to give his list of reasons to avoid sin:
1. You may be the only Bible another person ever reads.
2. Every time you sin... you cause Pain into God's Heart.
3. Understanding that God says No to the sinful behavior because He has something better planned for us.
4. That you have the choice of either being apart [sic] of God's Kingdom or building up Satan's Kingdom every single time temptation arises is a mind-wrenching thing to think about. It puts quite a bit of pressure on us to say the least.
This is just his list and he explains each one. Instead of reprinting it here you can click over and read them for yourself.
Reid is right, too, but there are problems with some of his reasons just as there are problems with the reasons he received from the Bible study groups.
But the problems aren't so much in the ideas themselves so much as they are in the attitude of the person holding to the ideas.
As Christians redeemed through the blood sacrifice of Christ, the question of sinning or not sinning is not a new question.
As "tiff" pointed out in a comment to Reid's post, Romans 6 is a good chapter that deals with this question. Paul begins the chapter by asking,
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1 AV)
First why does he ask this question?
In chapter 5 he lays down the reason for Christ's crucifixion and notes that because sin has increased through the revelation of the law, grace in Christ increases all the more to overcome sin.
And so his question, Shall we go on sinning in order that the grace of Christ should overflow?
Paul practically screams in the Spirit: NO WAY!
As Christians we have died to sin. Not sin died to us.
Paul explains that when we accept the gift of forgiveness Christ offers for our sins - which we could never have paid for ourselves - we, in a miracle of God, are spiritually put to death with Christ and are reborn in His resurrection as new creatures. The reason for this is that the only way that we can be set free from sin, which infects every fibre of this world, is through death.
We die to sin. Sin doesn't die to us.
God wants us to realize this message. He wants us to understand that we no longer need to obey the demands of sin because we are no longer enslaved to sin, instead Paul writes that we are now slaves to obedience to our new master, God.
This isn't to say that sin will no longer be a problem.
It will forever be a problem for us on this side of the Kingdom, because we are still locked to these imperfect bodies which carry the seed of sin. But praise God, as Paul writes,
“[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 AV)
And for when we sin John notes in a message for us, brothers and sisters in Christ:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 AV)
So what we must keep in mind as Christians is that sin is not our master so that we must obey it's desires. But we come back to Reid's question, What should our impetus to choose, sin or not to sin, be? And I think it's found in all of the answers Reid listed and it echoes again what Paul said. It's a desire, nay, a concrete truth to be obedient to God.
I believe the answer comes down to the maturity level of each person in Christ.
For those new to the fellowship of Christ, babes in the Spirit, just because God tells them not to sin is often a valid reason not to sin. And so, as they grow, they may realize that doing wrong reflects poorly the love of God to the world, and so that becomes a motivating factor. Then as they grow in their knowledge of God, they may come to the idea that by doing good and being obedient they are in a way paying back to God or returning praise to some extent for the gift of His Son, and this idea will help them to struggle on in doing good.
Sooner or later, in the struggles with the flesh and the spirit we Christians come to the realization that our sins hurt Christ and in that knowledge we strive to avoid paining our wonderful Deliverer, just as a son or daughter witnesses the tears on a parent's face after they failed and did something wrong and hurtful.
And so we go through the stages of understanding, by knowing that God has a better plan for us, or understanding that "You are either with God or against God." Each time our attitude in that knowledge is what helps govern our choice to sin or not to sin as the redeemed of Christ.
Eventually, through suffering, joy, and witness to the forgiving power of Christ in his life, the Christian, will come to another level of obedience. And that level of obedience will empower them to choose the right course not because God said so, or because they don't want to hurt Christ, but simply because they cry out to God,
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42 NIV)
Eventually, the desire to resist sin comes to a desire to please God, despite what our own feelings are. And like Christ, even in the face of certain pain, we cry aloud, 'Not my will Lord, but Yours.'