Are you familiar with the concept of “structural sin”? It refers to sin on a national or cultural scale: common habits, practices, and assumptions in a society that believers come to adopt. Instead of nudging their culture in a more godly direction, believers are instead pulled farther away from God by the culture. Structural sin corrupts over time, as we slowly absorb values and ideas contrary to Biblical teaching.
Wonder of Creation posted a convicting devotional this week about the power of structural sin, citing the Old Testament Babylonian captivity as a powerful example. The people of Judah were exiled until they recognized their sin and repented:
In this age of grace, God typically does not deal with us as directly. Further, no one nation now represents the “chosen people.” Instead, his children are all over the world where as the Body of Christ they are to be “salt and light” to the nations—preserving and enlightening them with the truth about the one true God (Israel’s initial responsibility). But just as the Jews were influenced by the idol-worshiping nations around them, we individual followers of Jesus can come under the influence of sinful and idol-worshiping people around us.
Consider spending a few minutes in the next few days to think about the way you and I live and what social, political, cultural, and economic systems tend to run our lives. Think about that old list of “seven deadly sins”: anger, greed, laziness, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. How many of these are built into the structures of our society? Because they are “just the way we do business and live our lives in the modern world,” we tend to excuse them because “everybody lives that way.” God will probably not send us into literal captivity for our wholesale ignoring of His commands; but we might well find ourselves in captivities of several different sorts.
There’s no question that our society—any society—is riddled with sin and corruption. Looking at your life, would you say that you are influencing those around you in a godly manner… or is society influencing you with values that conflict with the Gospel?