Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Better Label for ODD Behavior

Because the world must erase God from any of its explanations of life, or what is wrong with us humans, it has to perform some significant contortions to come up with descriptions of what is going on with us.

One of my favorites is the label ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. This is the world having to deal with people who oppose and defy parents and other authorities. They can’t make it sound like the person is responsible for what they are doing, because that would sound too much like the way God describes it. It would also force loved ones to deal with how someone they care about is capable of purposefully treating them in such ways.

So, instead, the person has to have a disorder, something that is unexplainably wrong with them, that is not their fault, and that leaves everyone around them having to tiptoe around their disorder rather than confront their true soul-condition.

The real name for ODD is SIN, Selfish Independent Naughtiness. They are being selfish, thinking of no one but themselves. They are acting independent, as if what they want trumps what anyone else wants. And, they are being naughty, bad, mean, disobedient, cruel, unloving, and… well… SINFUL! Yes, just like God describes it. Let’s consider this more closely.

God makes very clear that our central problem is with sin.[1] He explains how he created all things, crowning his creative display by making man in his own image and likeness.[2] He describes the paradise he created for the first man and woman, and how they could enjoy everything he had created for them.[3] There was only one thing they could not do, and that was eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because then they would die.[4]

Short story: they ate of that tree, sinning against their Creator, and brought sin and death into the world.[5] From then on, just as we inherit our humanity from them, we inherit our sin from them as well. We are indeed “born that way” just as the world admits, born as sinners in love with sin.

While I am being a bit restrictive with my description of SIN as Selfish Independent Naughtiness (Naughtiness is a bit mild for some of the sins human beings carry out against one another), it gives me an acronym to work with that helps make the point, that the world is giving people the wrong label to their oppositional and defiant propensities, and we need to turn to God’s label for our problem so we can open our hearts to his cure. Yes, there is a complete cure to our SIN problem, but it begins with an admission that we are dealing with SIN, not just ODD behavior.

Considering, then, that SIN is Selfish Independent Naughtiness (with all the worst of its synonyms), let’s look at how every human being deserves the label of SINner.


God describes the sinful condition of humanity with the distinctive characteristic that “people will be lovers of self”.[6] We hear this constantly in people’s demand that whole nations do things their way. The pluralistic attitude of our North American society is each person saying I have a right to do things my own way, and you have to respect that, and tolerate it, and agree with it, no matter how stupid, or wrong, or contrary, it appears to you.

Everything humanity is able to do to other human beings is because we love ourselves more than we love anyone else. In our sinful hearts and minds that justifies whatever we do since our one aim is to please ourselves. Pick any sin, any act of defiance, and it is a display of human selfishness demanding the right to trample anyone else under foot as long as the ODD people get their own way.


While God created us to be like him, both being loving towards others, and seeking to live in love-relationship with others, the sinful heart of man constantly desires to do what is independent from God. We can form all kinds of pseudo-bonds, and pseudo-societies, as long as God is kept out of the picture. Like disobedient little children, we stomp our feet and demand that things go our way otherwise we will… oh, I don’t know… pick something that comes to mind!

God’s Book describes our sinful independence like this: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way”.[7] Yes, “all”, and “every one” means just that. This was written over two-and-a-half millennia ago. Yes, MILLENNIA! No matter how ODDly we choose to label it today, God has told us what our problem is, and no amount of mislabeling will convince him to treat us any differently than sheep who have selfishly gone astray to do things our own way, independent of our Creator.


Of course, I picked the synonym “naughtiness” to make the acronym for SIN, but it is really a fairly mild term in relation to others that describe our sinful condition. Sin includes every evil, wicked, cruel, corrupt, immoral, unkind, malicious thing the human heart can imagine.

God describes this naughtiness with an indefensible list of synonymous and corresponding qualities of the sinful heart. Along with describing us as “lovers of self,” he continues with,

lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.[8]

In another part of his Book he writes it like this,

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.[9]

So, while “naughty” fits the acronym for SIN, we must see sin for what it is, the quintessential label for all our expressions of self-centered, independent, and unrighteous attitudes and behaviors.

God’s Solution

Yes, God has the solution to our sin-problem (the only solution since all the other ones are selfish and independent expressions of naughtiness). I will present it in summary form, and encourage everyone who admits that God’s description of the human predicament is true to bring this prescription form to the divine pharmacy and receive God’s life-giving gift to our deadly sinful condition.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.[10]

Yes, “all have sinned,” and even the world’s scrambling to find a selfish and independent label for our ODD behavior admits that this is true.

Yes, in our universal sinfulness we have all fallen short of the glory of God. God created our world as an expression of his glory; he created man in his own glorious image and likeness, and we brought sin into the world to ruin everything. We have fallen short of what is glory in the eyes of our Creator.


There is a work of God called, “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” in which sinful human beings can be “justified by his grace as a gift”. Because Jesus provided redemption, and it is offered as a free gift, sinful human beings who are under the condemnation our sins deserve can be justified, pardoned, forgiven, and so cleansed of unrighteousness and naughtiness that God can receive us as righteous, and adopt us as his sons.[11]

This gift of justification by God’s grace is because God himself “put forward” his Son “as a propitiation by his blood”. In other words, the only way God could find a human being who could die for the sins of other human beings was if he gave us his Son, the Word of God becoming human flesh[12] so he could redeem sinful flesh and restore us to the image and likeness of God.

I hope you have arrived this far with an interest in learning new words. The word “propitiation” may not be common to most of us, but it is a beautiful word, and one we will come to treasure once we receive the good news of redemption.

The word “propitiation” means to secure the freedom of a guilty person by someone else bearing all the justice, and condemnation, and wrath against that person’s sins so that their debt is so fully paid that they can be justified, forgiven of their sin and guilt.

Simply put, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[13] The wages, the thing we earn through our SIN, is death, the exact condemnation God promised would come upon humanity if we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All have sinned, so all are guilty, and all are under the sentence of death.

However, “the free gift of God is eternal life”. How could God do that? If he is a sinless and perfect judge, how can he give eternal life to people who are guilty of sin, condemned to death?

There is only one way, and it is, “in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Meaning, in Christ Jesus our Lord shedding his own blood for our sins, becoming the propitiation for our sins, the person who took all our punishment on himself, God can forgive all who come to him since their punishment has been paid. God is now just to justify us since everything we have ever done wrong, no matter how mildly naughty or strongly wicked those sins may be, has been fully paid by his Son.

All we need to turn from SINners who are under condemnation for our sin, to Sons who are forgiven and adopted into God’s family, is to respond to God’s gift in the only way we can experience it, which is, “to be received by faith.”

Yes, that is the simplicity and the difficulty of this gift. The simplicity is that we receive God’s gift by faith, not by changing our behavior. It is when we receive God’s gift by faith that he changes us; he gives us a new life in his Son; he gives us a new relationship with him as his sons. It is as we come to him in faith, trusting him in all he has promised his children, that we receive the rights of adoption into his family.

When God confronts us with his description of humanity that, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one,”[14] we can keep playing around with the world’s ODD labels, or we can admit to the SINfulness of our hearts, and turn to God to save us.

Labeling SIN as nothing more than ODD behavior both secures people in their sinfulness, and holds them under the condemnation their sins deserve.[15] Confessing our sins to God, and receiving his gift of redemption by faith, delivers us out of our sin, and into our salvation.

Or, as God describes it, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”[16] This is ours if we want it. We just have to stop saying we are ODD and admit we are SINful. Because, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”[17]

© 2016 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Here is a link to mentions of sin in the Bible. The hundreds of references alone says something about how significant this is to God, and to us. Each reference describes something of the nature, effects, and consequences of sin, and why it is so important for us to deal with sin as sin, not as some kind of quirky ODD behavior.
[2] Genesis 1-2, with Genesis 1:26-27 the description of God creating man in his own image and likeness, and Genesis 2 elaborating on how he created man as both male and female.
[3] Genesis 2
[4] Genesis 2:17
[5] Genesis 3 describes the historical event, and Romans 5:12-21 gives a precise description of what this did to us (along with the gift of God that fixes the problem, of course).
[6] II Timothy 3:2
[7] Isaiah 53:6
[8] II Timothy 3:1-5
[9] Romans 1:28-32
[10] Romans 3:23-25
[11] Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:5
[12] John 1:14
[13] Romans 6:23
[14] Romans 3:10-12
[15] John 3:18, 36
[16] Colossians 1:13-14
[17] I John 1:8-9

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