On my way home from taking Jesse to school, I caught the very end of a radio broadcast in which the speaker read a letter to the editor in which the author said he was sick of hearing about sin and wanted only a religion that taught things like gentleness and tolerance.
That’s understandable: no one really likes hearing about sin, especially their own. But that attitude is a bit like going to a doctor and saying, “I just want you to teach me about wellness and health: I don’t want to hear anything about this mass that you’re going to tell me needs to be removed.” What kind of doctor would be doing his patient any favors by telling him only the positive and neglecting to deal with the unpleasant negative of the ailment that will destroy him?
What exactly is sin? Besides detailing specific sins, the Bible speaks of these broader characterictics:
1. Falling short of God’s glory
Romans 3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
2. Failure to believe God
Hebrews 11:6: But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
3. Failure to do good
James 4:17: Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
I John 5:17a: All unrighteousness is sin
5. Acting against conscience, acting apart from faith
Romans 14:23: And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin
6. Transgressing the law
I John 3:4: Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
We might think, well, sure, defined like that, yes, we’re all sinners, but my sin isn’t as bad as other people’s. Going back to our patient analogy, that’s like saying my illness isn’t as bad as the other guy’s, so I don’t have to worry about mine. According to Romans 3:23 mention above, the standard is not how we compare to others: it’s how we compare to God. I heard it once described like this: if we all needed to leap over a 500 foot chasm, some would make it farther than others, but we’d all fall short.
The sin Adam and Eve engaged in which plunged the rest of the human race into sin was not what we would call gross sin: they simply did what God told them not to do. Jesus said the greatest commandment is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” It follows, then, that the greatest sin is to fail to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds.
So, a sinful nature is there within all of us. We can’t ignore it. It’s too destructive. We know it’s destructiveness and painfulness when others sin against us. It separates us from God: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2. Psalm 38 details the physical and mental anguish resulting from sin, not to mention the eternal punishment.
Thankfully there is a remedy: I Corinthians 15:3-4: For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
Isaiah 53:5-6: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Because the Lord Jesus, who was inherently sinless and who is God Himself, took on our sin and the punishment for it, when we believe on Him, all our sin can be forgiven. Even after becoming believers, on the basis of Christ’s death and resurrection, when we sin we can come to Him and have the slate wiped clean. I John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
When He has cleansed our sin away, dwells within us, and given us a new nature, then we are enabled to show forth love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Galatians 5:22-23)– all the good and positive qualities that are a blessing to other people.
I hadn’t planned to write about this today: I had two other posts in mind and was trying to decide which one to go with when I heard that bit of a radio broadcast, and as I thought meditated on what I had heard, some of these other truths came to mind, so I felt that perhaps this was what I should write about today.
Proverbs 28:13: He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.