Chapter 6 of AWE: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, & Do by Paul David Tripp
A Review by Pastor Aaron Adame
In the Bible, there are three facets of offense against God, others, and ourselves: sin, iniquity, and transgression. In Psalm 32, the Psalmist addresses these three areas under the celebration of God’s grace and mercy when he writes the following: 1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. Sin—the more general of the three—is best understood as “missing the mark.” It is, as Paul refers to it in Romans 3, “to fall short of the glory of God.” We all do good things and have the potential for good; however, none of us are perfect; therefore, we all sin. If we measure ourselves against others, then our sin is diminished or even eliminated. But when our sin is measured against a holy God, then we are found to have missed the mark. This is the basis of sin—moral imperfection. The next is iniquity. This word implies something that has been distorted, twisted, perverted and bent in on itself. Iniquity is when someone takes something good God has made and uses it in a fashion it wasn’t meant to be used. It doesn’t mean the thing itself is bad. All it means is that it is being used in the wrong way and context, which is morally wrong. And finally, the word that is used as the focus of this chapter, is transgression. Transgression is the obvious one. It is knowing what the wrong thing is and doing it anyway or knowing the right thing to do and not doing it (these are also subcategories of transgression, which are commission and omission). Tripp opens the chapter by describing a very real and relatable situation with his son when he was very young. How he told him repeatedly not to touch the electrical socket. Then one day, his son walked over, and after looking his father in the eye, touched the socket. Though he was just a young child, at a certain level he knew what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway. Why did he act this way? Why does any of us act this way? What is the allure of crossing “the line?” Well, it seems pretty obvious: we have lost sight of the awe of God and have replaced it with the awe of whatever it is on the other side of the line being crossed—the line God has said don’t cross. Or, transgressing by not crossing the line that God has said He wants us to cross. We all know the story of the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve both transgressed the one command that God gave to them, to not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But as Tripp pointed out in the chapter, where they failed was when their awe shifted from the God who created that tree and walked with them in the cool of the day to the possibility of living life without God, autonomously. Their issue wasn’t a law but an awe problem. They lost sight of who and what was right in front of them. Something else was mentioned in this chapter worth considering, which is the purpose of the law of God. God’s law was never intended to be seen as a way of earning favor with God, but as a way of expressing a life of godliness. The law was meant to be a means of blessing, not cursing. Though the law was meant to show us our need for a Redeemer, since we could not perfectly keep the law, it was also designed to show us how to live as redeemed people. In this sense, the law was a gracious gift, showing us how to experience God’s blessings. A great example of this that Tripp points out is the command to observe the Sabbath. The Jews turned this command into a legalistic burden; however, God meant it to be a conduit of blessing and grace. It is essentially a command to take a day off, to rest, and to reorient your heart back to what is ultimate—and awe of God. The children of Israel were worked to the bone in Egypt, but now God is saying under His rule and reign, He wants them to rest and enjoy the work of their hands. But to enjoy it as a gracious gift of their Redeemer. This is why we read in Hebrews to “consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some…” (Heb 10:24-25). As new covenant saints, our sabbath includes the Sunday gathering. This is a biblical command, not as a burden, but as a conduit of blessing. We get stirred up in our faith. Set ablaze to continue to fight the good fight of faith in this crooked and perverse world. Therefore, to put it bluntly, to fail to gather and sabbath in this way is to look at our heavenly Father in the eyes, as Tripp’s son did to him before touching the outlet, and say to Him without words, “I’d rather do something else on this day that you have made than what you have commanded.” Or, think of the Great Commission! Or as I heard it put once before, the great omission! God has commanded us to make disciples, but are most people who call themselves Christians doing that? The fact is God has called us to cross the line and reach the lost with the gospel, but people transgress by staying put and ignoring the command. Why? Because they have lost sight of the awe of the mission, and the one who gave the mission, and who is on mission Himself. WE have lost the awe of being a part of God’s work and are instead trapped by the awe of comfort, of ease, of being liked for fear of being rejected. God takes all transgression personally. Because to cross the line we shouldn’t or not cross the line we should, is to say to God, “I know you have said this or that, but I want to do it my way.” This is personal. Transgression is relational infidelity. Sadly, the person who chooses to live this way not only settles for lesser awe, but becomes ensnared and enslaved to those unsatisfying pursuits, and they cut themselves off from God’s blessing, which He desires to give lavishly to those who put their faith and trust in Him. But here is the good news that I hope recaptures your heart with Awe: God has loved you with an everlasting love! He chose you though there was nothing but the filthy rags of sin that covered you. And He picked you up, washed you clean, and clothed you with the righteousness of His Son. And He gave you a purpose in this world—to reflect His character and grace with your words and actions. And He joined you to a family that will help you along the way and that you can celebrate with. He has assured you that failure is not an option—because He didn’t fail, you can’t fail if you walk in faith and obedience! Questions: What has captured your awe that has also opened the door for transgression—things you shouldn’t be doing and not doing things you should be? Why do you think transgressing is more than just a law problem but an awe problem?