Did We Get Sin Wrong? (#903)

Wayne is pondering a major shift in his view of sin and wants to ponder it with Kyle. However, a series of circumstances made Kyle unavailable to record. So, instead, Wayne's wife, Sara, stepped in, allowing us to also catch up with her healing journey as they settling into their refurbished home. Then, they talk about how God might view sin, which is different than how they were raised. Could it be that God looks on sin, and our life in this broken world, much like Wayne has come to view trauma in Sara's life? Is that why Jesus found it easier to forgive those who executed him and why he saw the lost not as co-conspirators in darkness but as "harassed and helpless."

Podcast Notes:

  • We are sorry, but we did not make a video recording of this podcast
  • Sara and Wayne's story from a year ago is told in the Redeeming Love Podcasts from The God Journey.



  1. I think you’ve really touched on something really significant here. So much of what was said about compassion and love and safety and not being comfortable in a religious institutional setting resonated deeply with me. I listened to a podcast yesterday called Hillsong, a megachurch shattered and was so troubled that not only was it not helping the trauma but it was the cause of the trauma. I did wonder what your thoughts were on the situation. Thank you so much, Wayne and Sarah, for sharing your story. I have benefited tremendously from your books and podcasts. Your experience and your hearts are very special to me.

    • Thanks for your comment, Merryl. How many examples do we need of megachurches, whose pastors may start with the best of intentions but go down the road of personal indulgence to the detriment of their character and the people they serve? This can include moral failure, exploiting their staff, financial extravagance, or controlling others. We don’t see that our mega-systems actually encourage these behaviors when the leaders are not well-grounded in themselves and in Jesus. Hillsong is just another of many tragedies, both in NY and also at the mother church in Sydney, Australia. Yes, there is a whole study now on religious-based trauma mostly caused by bad leadership who teach a coercive “gospel” instead of allowing the love of Jesus to transform people. When will people wake up and see there is a huge price to pay when we set people above us as our leaders instead of following Christ? And I think our so-called leaders are the most de-humanized by taking on that mantle.

      And thanks for your very gracious words about Sara and me. You are an encouragement.

  2. Great podcast! I believe that we have gotten sin wrong, and in so doing have minimized Jesus’ work on the cross and the love of God which passes all understanding while making us the judge of ourselves and others. We continue to use the stolen knowledge of good and evil which keeps our mind from being renewed and transformation from taken place. So much of Christianity is based on doing, thinking and saying the “right thing” rather than being the solution by loving ourselves and others as God loves us. I will never forget the the day that God told me I was a pharisee. He said that I had a strong willpower which enabled me to do the “right thing” and judged others who were week willed. Love covers a multitude of sins. It seems to me that sin is not the problem ; Jesus conquered it.
    Failing to receive and recognize love as the ultimate (God IS love) which defines everything, is the problem.

  3. Question for Sara, do you feel that it is possible to fully recover from trauma , to the point of feeling free and not guilty anymore? Not second guessing yourself anymore? Will I ever get to the point of not having triggers of some kind anymore?
    Also, what is sin? Isn’t it separation from god? Why would we willfully separate ourselves from god if it wasn’t some kind of trauma behind it? Those who are willfully evil, have they ever experienced the love of god? When does gods love say enough is enough and stop loving sinners? I feel like in the areas where I am unable to give grace are areas where I have not felt grace, where god hasn’t healed me yet.

    • Great questions, Sarah. I’ll see if we can get a time for Sara to take on the first set. And we’ll see if Kyle and I can get into the second set. Thanks for thinking with me on all of this.

  4. These are just some initial thoughts and ponderings…I don’t know if they’re correct or true. I’ll continue thinking them over.

    The words that popped into my mind about this topic was ‘trauma doesn’t always lead to sin but sin always comes from trauma’.

    Sin feels like the symptom, whereas trauma feels like the root cause.
    When we have a gaping wound of trauma, we might scrabble around for any convenient materials to plug the wound, to try to stop the blood flow. In this way, we can use sin to try to plug the wound, even maybe convincing ourselves that it’s saving us. It becomes a coping mechanism, a means of survival, a comfort. But eventually, if we don’t get stitches and heal properly, we are going to bleed out.

    If we try to abstain from sin, removing the plug from the wound, without getting help, without getting a healer to give the stitches, then the blood starts flowing and things can feel out of control. So if we keep trying to abstain from something through will power, trying to do it by our own strength, we are always going to fail. We’re going to always want to plug that wound back up, the only way we know how.

    Wanting to stop sinning sounds like it always come from a good place. What could be wrong with that? But if we’re trying to stop sinning simply because we’re wanting to please God, to try to gain his approval and love, then we’ve got it all backwards and will end up failing. Much like people-pleasing, God-pleasing can come from a traumatised, unhealthy place. Until we realise how much God loves us and that sin doesn’t alter the level of his love for us, and learn to see ourselves as he sees us, then we won’t value ourselves enough to think we deserve healing. If we believe we are unworthy, terrible wretches, we will continue to destroy ourselves with sin. Maybe we think we deserve it. We can’t succeed in abstaining by ourselves, we need the great Healer to work in us. As we heal, we then might gradually learn that it’s safe to release our grip on the sin that we cling to and crave. Gradually, if we get help and start to heal, maybe we won’t feel like we need to grab the sin anymore or use it as a life-raft. Maybe it will gradually fall away, like a scab. And we’ll actually want this and not view it as “abstention” any more. But more like “good riddance!”. When we treat the root cause, the symptom will, bit by bit, fall away.

  5. God bless you Wayne and Sara. Your journey has been a revelation and healing to me. I wanted to say something about God forgiving ALL because they don’t know what they are doing…..did those who were responsible for crucifying Jesus cognizant of all that was going on? Without the mind of the Father how could they? Do the “monsters” in our world really know what they do? No, they cannot know the depth, the width the wounds that they make. Do they get away with it? NO! Absolutely NOT! We all stand before the Creator naked. Remember doing something you knew was wrong and having to tell your Mom or Dad about it? Now imagine being before the consuming fire that is the love of God. Having to pass through that fire burning off and out all that is not of Him. There is NO getting away with anything.

  6. Hi Wayne,
    I love where this is going! I think the more we can see how Father sees us, the less we ‘sin’; the less we will want to do anything that could be defined as sin. When we can see how much He loves us, is delighted by us, rejoices over us, the more we are seeing how he sees us and treasures us. Its a process for sure and we never arrive, but we can enjoy more peace, joy, and life as me move through that process! I think that ‘witnesses’ more to others what He wants them to know more than ANYTHING else.

  7. Hey Guys,

    Loved this podcast, especially when Sara used the term “unconditional love”, I knew you were (before you even said it) going to give pushback.
    I hate that you hate the term brother, as in so many like myself totally get it.


    • Richard, I understand your words here but I’m fighting a bigger battle and I know it frustrates people a bit who love the term unconditional love, but the problem with defining love that way is that it makes allowance for something called conditional love. Conditional love is not love at all. Scripture never refers to unconditional love because it is a redundancy. All love is unconditional. I understand why some people like it said that way, but I am not among them. That said, my love is not dependent on someone giving up the term ‘unconditional love.’ Use it if you want, but I’m hoping for a better definition of love in the general culture….

  8. Great Podcast,
    As far as the idea of God giving someone a pass when we forgive, I really believe we have no idea of the intensity of what His love actually means when we have been violated!


  9. First time listening in a while, and it’s good to check back in and discover (1) you’re still on the journey, and (2) that you’re going deeper and still not afraid of tipping sacred cows!

    To your point about sin, I think it’s also interesting to hear God’s concern for Saul (“it’s hard for you to kick against the goads”) which is very different to how I would have felt about Saul and what he had been doing to my people if I had been in His position.

  10. Sara, remember that all of what you have gone through over your life time has exacted a toll on your body & mind’s energy levels. My life’s journey has also. I’m finding that the more restorative rest I get, the more I find myself able to lean into Father’s healing. When I get too physically or emotionally weary I find myself struggling with the overwhelm of self- doubt & loathing all over again.

    On the topics of sin Wayne, I absolutely resonate with what you are considering in regards to how Father views it.
    A couple of years ago we had a young couple with 3 little girls emigrate to our country. They had to go through quarantining for two weeks, having already had to quarantine in their home country for several weeks due to contracting Covid.
    4 days after the husband had started his new job he came home to find his wife having tried to overdose after strangling & finally suffocating their beautiful little girls. When the news broke across the country the following morning, I so wanted to go to that poor mother & wrap her in Father’s love. She is only now going through the horror of a murder trial & that desire to love her is so strong within me.
    I feel so strongly that the world & the religious institutions have a completely distorted view of sin & God’s attitude to it, which gives no space for His healing to seep into wounded lives.

  11. As to your invitation to listeners to offer their two cents worth re: sin, here’s my take:

    I don’t see it at all as a case of God giving a pass to individuals who know what they’re doing is wrong, yet continue to persist in sinful behaviour.  Instead, God sees something most of us don’t see – that we were all born with Satan’s sin nature (like an invisible, leaching parasite) and were imprinted from conception to follow its lead – and its hold on us persists even after we’ve been born again. 

    In my humble opinion, the common teaching that at the point of salvation it’s a case of “Jesus in, Satan out” is erroneous.  Yes, we have become new creatures as a result of our spirit’s union with God.  However, in the case of the metaphysical part of our makeup called “the flesh” it’s a different matter in that it’s still very much influenced by that sin nature.  This runs counter to what many church leaders have long contended, but it makes perfect sense when we consider that despite being born-again, Christians still sin. 

    Furthermore, I speculate that God in his great wisdom and love purposely did NOT eradicate this propensity to sin from our flesh at the point of salvation, because as a direct result of the constant warring of spirit vs flesh we have the glorious potential to grow and learn, to choose to live out of that new spirit union or not.  It may be hard to wrap our heads around the notion that we are filled with God’s nature in our spirit and simultaneously infested with evil in our flesh, but as William Landon writes in “The Devil You Don’t Know”, God has no problem living next door to the devil.

    It seems to me that Satan has not only convinced the world at large that he doesn’t exist, he’s also blinded the eyes of believers to the extent that we think we have to try harder, pray more, etc. in order to overcome the wrongful thoughts and actions that plague us all.  However, when we get an understanding that there’s another power at work within us, an evil force bent on keeping us bound and paralyzed,  it frees us from self-condemnation because now we know it’s not us that’s the problem, but sin that still seeks to rule over us.  We are free to follow its lead or instead to live according to God’s indwelling spirit by deliberately choosing, for example, to pray for our enemies instead of trying to get even. Bottom line: we are still responsible for the choices we make and will have to give an account to God one of these days, so no one gets off scot free.

    So, although I may not give in to the parasite’s influence as much as the other guy, I have no right to point fingers at anyone, no matter how depraved that individual may be, because we have all been infected and are in that sense standing on the same level ground.  And if I say something like, “Well I may have committed little sins once in a while, but they’re nothing compared to what HE’s done” – I am guilty of being just as self-righteous as the Pharisees who, in their blindness, could neither see God even though he was standing right in front of them, nor could they see they had the same deadly parasite operating in their flesh as did everybody else. 

    Therefore, my take is that when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”, he didn’t mean that those responsible for his crucifixion didn’t know what they were doing, but instead he was referring to the fact that they had absolutely no clue as to the impetus behind what they did – namely, the evil parasite operating in and through them.  Jesus wasn’t giving them – or any of us – a pass but instead, acknowledging our collective blindness.  

  12. Thanks everyone, for contributing to this thread. I appreciate the time and thought each of you has put into this. I’m processing all of it and am grateful for your contributions. (Wayne)

  13. Sara, Thank you so much for being willing to share every now and then about how things are going for you. Your openess and honesty about your healing journey that takes time, patience, and the need to continually receive God’s love is so encouraging. Your willingness to be vulnerable and authentic has been such help to me personally and I’m sure to many others. Thank you.

  14. Sister Sarah, after living through my own family trauma for my first 20 years, finally receiving the comfort of the Holy Spirit at 40 was life-changing for me. But alas, the institution of the Church soon brought me back to the dark reality of how far people, and so much of the church had really fallen. But I know that a new day is coming, Slowly people are being truly transformed and by extension transformation is slowly seeping into parts of the institutions we call church.

    For me the Comforter is here to teach me all things, sometimes speaking through people such as Wayne, Kyle and others. I feel as though I have rediscovered “The Good News”, not that if we’ve done all the right things and believed all the right doctrines, we can go to Heaven when we Die. But rather the truth that God will at some point set all that is wrong, back to the perfect state where he originally created things to be. The Restoration of ALL things!

    When some of us have been through enough Trauma, our pain becomes so pervasive that the seemingly permanent removal of the source of our own pain is no longer enough. The ultimate realization that if suffering can be inflicted on anyone else in the world, even our enemies, it can surely be inflicted on us and those we love. We will finally experience the completeness of God’s loving Shalom when all flesh experiences God’s loving Shalom! Jeremiah 29:7

    • 1 Cor. 5:19; “For God was in Christ reconciling creation to Himself…”

  15. I finally listened to podcast #903 and I think it’s one that really gets down to the “brass tacks”. I don’t know if, in this earthly life, we will ever completely understand how much God loves us as sinful human beings. I think that God loves us more than we could ever imagine, so how can we fully understand that? Are we called, as followers of Christ, to love others to the extent that we do understand God’s love for us? There is always room for improvement for how we love others. Isn’t part of being disciples of Christ submitting ourselves to his will and being willing to have ourselves transformed by his love for us? Even if we could completely understand God’s love for us, would that understanding necessarily make us as loving as God is? I don’t think so. What matters, I believe, is our relationship with God and the effect that relationship has on us and consequently how that relationship affects our relationships with others whether with friends or foes, saints or sinners.

  16. Doug,
    I love the way you talk! If we could imagine the most loving Father we can possibly imagine, He is way more than that! Jesus came to show us the Father and we are drawn to how Jesus is. Knowing that He is an exact representation of Father shows us that Father is Loving too! We can spend a lifetime learning to embrace that Love!

  17. We named our home with a name taken from mum and dad’s home, they passed away some 8 years ago.
    The name : GWIDOS HUT
    An anagram consisting of 3 words.

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