I'm thinking along the lines of today's Pyro post — sin, repentance, forgiveness, and All That. The Willises find themselves dealing (again!) with how to respond to ex-Governor Ryan, now that he has "apologized."
Or has he?
Three times Ryan refers to the crimes that sent him to jail as "mistakes." Straight-up, that's not a good sign. One of the first and surest signs I remember indicating that The Nameless One had not even driven his El Camino in the same county as repentance was his repeated reference to his abuse of Monica Lewinsky as a "mistake." At the time, I scoffed, "'Mistake'! If he thought that was Hillary at the time, only to discover to his horror that it wasn't, that would be a 'mistake.' This wasn't a 'mistake.'"
When you add up some figures and accidentally get it wrong, that's a mistake. When you reach past the dented soup can to get the next one, and find out later that it was beef broth instead of chicken noodle, that's a mistake. If you tell everyone to turn to verse one when you should be saying verse twenty-one, that's a mistake. When you click "No" instead of "Yes" and lose a document you've worked on for four hours, that's a mistake.
Is sin a mistake? Well, in the sense of Oh dear God help me I should not have done that!, yes, it is a mistake. It is The Wrong Thing to Do. It is Something I Never Should Have Done. Yes, sin is a mistake.
Eve was indeed mistaken to believe the Serpent. Adam was indeed mistaken to follow his wife into sin to keep peace at home (or whatever lame excuse he made to himself). Cain was mistaken to think that murdering his brother would make him feel better in the long run.
Saul was mistaken to think he could be excused for doing a priestly act. David was mistaken to think he could run through the Top Ten and break every one because he was a king (or, again, whatever he told himself). The Jewish leaders were mistaken to think that getting Jesus lynched would solve their problems. Pilate was mistaken to think doing what he knew to be unjust was a good idea. They all were mistaken to think that their actions solved the "Jesus problem."
So yes, sin is a "mistake." It is always a "mistake," because it is always the wrong thing to do.
But sin is never just a mistake.
"Sin," the Holy Spirit tells us through John, "is ἀνομία," it is lawlessness. That is, it is thinking and acting as if the Law of God does not apply to me, as if I am a law unto myself. I consult myself and my feelings, tell myself that this is a good thing to do, and I do it. I act as a god.
When I call my sin a "mistake," I'm insisting that I'm really basically a good person. Why, I would never do something really wrong! I also say that what I did was not that big of a deal. It was just a slip, a goof, an oopsie. Anyone could do it. And I try to evade any consequences. I mean, good Lord, don't make a federal case out of it! It was just a mistake.
A repentant man does not view, nor approach, nor deal with his sin that way. He deals with it as sin, something done deliberately, inexcusably, and culpably. He blames only himself, he agrees with God in damning it (and himself for committing it), he judges it, and he deals with it as God lays out for him to do. The scope of his sin is the scope of his repentance. He takes full responsibility, names it, claims it, disowns it, begs forgiveness of God and all the wronged, and does anything and everything he must to make it right.
(Here's the irony: many people who would do most or all of that with a mere mistake, insanely won't do that with a sin.)
Sigh. Well, there's a lot more to unpack there. I guess I'll have to do (at least) one more post unpacking sin and repentance and forgiveness.
UPDATE: the timing of this post is interesting, in unintended. Did you know it's the eve of the tenth anniversary of The Nameless One's impeachment?