• a TRUE portrait of Sin


My friend Mark sent me this link today and it’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. It’s the suicide letter from Bill Zeller, a talented young programmer who was raped as a child and was never able to find freedom and love.

Instead, he lived with what he calls “the darkness”…and his portrait of the darkness is one of the most VIVID and HEART-BREAKING depictions of the true nature of Sin and the destruction it wreaks within the souls of humanity that I’ve ever read.

Take a few minutes and read it for yourself. Allow yourself to enter into the pain that this young man felt and the hopelessness that dominated his life as a result of that insidious character, Sin.

After reading this, how can one not be broken over this man’s plight?  How can Sin ever be tolerated upon seeing it for who it really is?

It an incredibly successful–and insidious–move on its part, Sin has come to be seen as no big deal.  It is often brushed aside, lampooned or treated lightly in our culture.

We describe chocolate desserts as “sinful” or “decadent” when referring to how delicious they are!

We describe Las Vegas as “Sin City” when referring to how great a time one can have there…with the idea that “everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”!

Sin is seen as a normal and natural part of what it means to be human.


It is “the darkness” that torments us, infects us, and then leads us to torment ourselves and those around us in ways too varied to imagine.

It is the enemy that has crouched, pounced and preyed upon us from the moment Cain killed his brother.

It is the thing that utterly destroys an innocent child’s life at the hands of an unnamed evildoer and then mercilessly torments him day after day, year after year, until the child, now a man, sees himself like this:

I’m just a broken, miserable shell of a human being. Being molested has defined me as a person and shaped me as a human being and it has made me the monster I am and there’s nothing I can do to escape it. I don’t know any other existence. I don’t know what life feels like where I’m apart from any of this. I actively despise the person I am. I just feel fundamentally broken, almost non-human. I feel like an animal that woke up one day in a human body, trying to make sense of a foreign world, living among creatures it doesn’t understand and can’t connect with.

I have accepted that the darkness will never allow me to be in a relationship. I will never go to sleep with someone in my arms, feeling the comfort of their hands around me. I will never know what uncontimated intimacy is like. I will never have an exclusive bond with someone, someone who can be the recipient of all the love I have to give. I will never have children, and I wanted to be a father so badly. I think I would have made a good dad. And even if I had fought through the darkness and married and had children all while being unable to feel intimacy, I could have never done that if suicide were a possibility. I did try to minimize pain, although I know that this decision will hurt many of you. If this hurts you, I hope that you can at least forget about me quickly.

This is Sin!

This is the enemy Jesus came to destroy!

This is who, through Him and Him alone, we can be rescued and redeemed from!

Sin is not cute, innocent, fun, natural or acceptable.  Ever.

As I read the letter, I couldn’t help but notice in Zeller’s words a faint echo of Paul’s description of the human condition as slaves under Sin’s grip, apart from the freedom, joy, hope and love found in a life animated by the Spirit:

19 For the good I am wanting [to do] I am not doing, but evil I am not wanting, this I am practicing!  20 But if I am doing what I am not wanting [to do], no longer am I performing it, but sin dwelling in me. But now it is no longer me that is producing it, but the sin that is dwelling in me.

21 So then, I am finding Law–[Namely,] that [though] I am wanting to do good, evil is right there with me!  22 For I am joyfully agreeing with the law of God according to my inner self.  23 But I am seeing a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members.

24 I am a miserable person!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?!

Zeller’s letter breathes life–or rather, death–into Paul’s haunting description of the condition of fallen humanity–attacked, enslaved and destroyed by the ultimate enemy, Sin.

Only God truly knows the state of a person’s soul when they stand before Him face to face after leaving this world, and I won’t speak to whether or not Bill ever experienced the loving embrace from God which he so longed for in others.  I pray that the twisted and deformed caricature of Christianity which he saw in his family was not the only Jesus he ever glimpsed.  I pray that somehow Sin did not have the final say in his life and that he was able, before it was too, late to make the transition from his Romans 7 life of torment to the Romans 8 life of renewal and freedom:

24 I am a miserable person!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?!

(25 But thanks to God through Jesus The Messiah our Lord!)

Therefore I am a slave to Law of God with my mind, but to the law of sin with my flesh.

8:1 Therefore now there is no condemnation for the ones who are in the Messiah Jesus.  2 For the law of the Spirit of life in the Messiah Jesus set you free from the law of sin and death.

3 For concerning sin, God Himself [did] what was impossible for those who were weakened by the flesh [to do] under Law by sending the Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.  He condemned sin in the flesh  4 so that the righteousness of Law might be fulfilled in us, who are not walking according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 For those who are living according to the flesh are thinking about things of the flesh, but those living according to the Spirit [are thinking about] things of the Spirit.  6 For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace,  7 because the mindset of the flesh is hostile to God, for it is not submitting to the law of God, nor is it able to!  8 And those who are in living in the flesh are not able to please God.

9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God is dwelling in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of the Messiah, this person is not His.

10 But if the Messiah is in you, your body is dead through sin, but the Spirit is life through of righteousness.  11 And if the Spirit of the one raising Jesus from the dead is dwelling in you, the one who raised the Messiah from the dead will also make your dead bodies alive through his Spirit who is dwelling in you.

For every Bill Zeller, whose story gets told, there are thousands…millions…whose stories go untold.  Sin is a self-replicating virus of pure evil which infects, destroys and multiplies among us.  In all human history, only one man was able to defeat it.  One in BILLIONS.  That doesn’t sound like good odds.


That one man was also the Incarnate Word who, in the beginning, was with God and who WAS God!

That one man resisted, subdued and defeated Sin–using Sin itself on the part of others to do so in the most stunning  display of Holy irony ever conceived–on a dusty, barren hillside in a backwater province of the Roman Empire nearly 2,000 years ago.

And through this one act by this one man, the Bill Zellers of the world are not left without hope, adrift in a world ruled by “the darkness.”  Because…

Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made.
In him was life,
and that life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:3-5)

May those whose lives are bound up in “the darkness” experience “the light” before it’s too late and the darkness overcomes them once and for all.  And may we, as those who live in the Light never do anything to reinforce, downplay or compromise with the darkness around us.  Let us see Sin for what it truly is and let us war against it with all our might.


ps: For Christians dealing with “the darkness” themselves, I gave a two-part message at CharlotteONE a while back, which you can listen to HERE, entitled “The Dark Night of the Soul” which is walks through this very real and very painful (and VERY un-talked-about!) issue among Christians.  I’ve also written this article for the Examiner that you may find helfpul or encouraging.

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