The greatest sin you have ever experienced

Published 6:28 pm Thursday, May 9, 2019


Religion Columnist 

What is the greatest sin you have ever experienced against you? That is a powerful question to consider.  The many ways humans have figured out how to hurt each other can be so overwhelming. The most painful sins we experience are usually committed by those who are supposed to love us. A family member, our spouse or a long-trusted friend hurts us physically, emotionally or sexually and it can shatter and wound us so deeply we feel the pain for the rest of our lives. Betrayal cuts us to the very heart of our soul. These sins are unforgivable aren’t they? Or are they?

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Genesis 45:1-11 is the conclusion of what Joseph does with the worst kinds of sins committed against him.  He has been sold into slavery by his own brothers; his death has been faked so his father would believe he was dead; his master’s wife accuses him falsely of rape, when he is pure and refuses to have sex with her and he is left to rot in a prison for a crime he did not commit. If that were not enough, Joseph correctly interprets another prisoner’s dream that he will be restored to Pharaoh’s court, but the prisoner forgets about Joseph when he is restored.

After all this, Joseph is elevated to vice-president of Egypt because of his unending faith in God and his integrity.  In Genesis 45 his brothers are alone with him in a room of his palace, and don’t know it is Joseph who is standing before them. Joseph has tested them to see if they have changed.  He can have them killed for all the terrible deeds they have done to him. He does not. In one of the most moving scenes in the Bible, Joseph begins weeping with his brothers as he forgives them with these words, “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” (Genesis 45:5).

What is the greatest sin you have ever experienced against you? Is it worse than the sins Joseph experienced?  He found the courage to forgive through his faith in God, and this opened a door for him to enjoy the rest of his life in a new relationship with his family. Forgiveness is the first step to healing from a broken relationship. It doesn’t mean we reconcile with the person. It doesn’t mean we can trust the person. It means we let go of the past, give the sin and the person to God to deal with, and begin healing from the pain and bitterness of the sin.  It destroys the power of sin over our lives and sets us free.

Consider this statement, “Absolutely no man, woman, child, or devil can ever get you out of the will of God!  No one but God holds your destiny.” This was written in John Bevere’s book “The Bait of Satan,” p. 27.  (I believe this and “A Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility” by Jones and Fontenot and are the two most profound books a Christian can read outside the Bible).  What does this mean for the way we live our lives when we face offenses?  It reminds us that God uses all the events of our lives, no matter how terrible, to work out his purposes in our lives.  We read in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Unforgiveness is not an option for the Christian. Jesus made it clear when he said things like, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).  I think what God wants us to do when someone sins against us or we feel offended is to step back and look at where God is in that experience.  God is in all our experiences.  If we respond to offenses with a search for God instead of anger, bitterness, and revenge, we will walk in the will of God much more often, and our lives will look a lot more like Joseph’s above, rather than wallowing in the anguish of bitterness and revenge.

     What is the greatest sin you have ever experienced against you?  How long have you carried the pain and wounds of that sin? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? When will you forgive? What is God doing in your life through that sin? Give the sin and the person to God and be set free.

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles go to