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.

4. Unrighteousness

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.

12 thoughts on “Sin

  1. I agree with what you said, but I am wondering about the tail-end of that broadcast you caught. There are a few Christian speakers I listen to very judiciously, because they only condemn. From some people, I am tired of hearing about sin, because one seldom hears from them about forgiveness or redemption.

    I believe their needs to be a balance. I also very much appreciate hearing news about people who glorify Jesus by the way they live their lives, then forever hearing the same condemnations over and over. Some correction, some spiritual guidance, and plenty of good examples is my preference.

  2. The man I was listening to isn’t a “ranter and raver.” I know what you mean, though — there are some who never preach anything else but condemnation, and we need to hear the whole counsel of God..

    In the Puritan era the sentiment leaned more toward feeling too sinful to believe one could be saved. I think these days it’s the opposite — the downplay of sin or the excusing of it as, “We’re only human.” I think balance is needed there as well.

  3. Isn’t sin part of religion? Just like with good there is bad? I think it is all part of what makes up religion just as it all makes up our daily lives 🙂

  4. Pastor Paul has really taken to confronting sin the past 6 months… he definitely feels that the world is leading toward a “self-denial” stance about sin! I think it’s true too… people just don’t want to believe that they are sinners. Or (pointing up) that sin is only for the religious… Sorry Thom.

  5. I wouldn’t say sin is part of religion. I think even people without religion recognize right and wrong, though they don’t call it “sin” and might not draw their lines in exactly the same places (e.g., people recognize lying, stealing, and being unkind as wrong though some might justify it in some cases where religious people wouldn’t). Religion is more about what to do about sin. Many religions teach to just do more good than bad so the good will outweigh the bad — but that’s not taught in the Bible. Christianity teaches not only forgiveness but also empowers real change.

  6. Great post, Barbara… no one likes to hear about the sin in their life because of pride of life. However it is the very realization of one’s sin that propels one to the loving arms of God.

  7. Ivoryspring, I love the way you put that!!

    Sally, me too!

    Melli, I agree. In general people want to deny it or justify it or just don’t want to hear about it.

  8. Balance, Barbara! You are absolutely right. I think it takes love to point out someone’s sins, if one wants the revelation to lead to change. I think my whole problem with the whole-sale pointing out of sins by some (though by now means all or even most) of the televised preachers, is the how and the why of their doing so.

    I have a wonderful friend who has been a great mentor who reminds me from time-to-time, that when the word of God goes out, no matter what the speaker intends it for, God can use it for good. I try to remember that when I am watching a televised message that goes against my teachings and or beliefs.

  9. Barbarah, it is a pleasure to know folks in the blogosphere who are unashamed of the gospel. Thanks for being forthright in this post. I think the best way to dispense this sort of truth is to remember that when my finger is pointing at someone else, I have three others pointing back at me. It truly is, “One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

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