Why we need to talk about sin
Our society has redefined, repackaged, an reintroduced as sin in some of the following ways.
On the negative side they might call it:
- A mistake
- A lack of education
- A result of bad circumstances
- A misunderstanding
While there may be a degree of truth to each of these, the problem is that they sidestep and avoid the aspect of guilt and evil which are core to a Biblical understanding of sin.
On the positive side sin might be called:
- Gambling – Entertainment
- idolatrous worship of cars, a sports team, and many other things – A hobby
- Sex outside of marriage – Romance and Love
- Pride and arrogance – Confidence, independence
- Disrespect for authority – Courage
- Pursuit of your own comfort and pleasure – Living the good life
- Greed – Pursuing your dreams
- Mutilation of the body – Unique
- Pornography – Art
- Abuse of drugs and alcohol – Entertainment
- Murder of a helpless and defenseless child – Personal choice
Redefined and repackaged sin no longer looks like sin and the unbeliever is left wondering what if anything he needs to be saved from. More than ever it is important that we get this right in our gospel communication. We must find effective ways to communicate and demonstrate the deadly destruction sin can and will do in our lives and in our hearts if we don’t find the Savior.
3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.
In just 3 short chapters Moses laid out for the people of Israel the basic facts about who their God is and who man is in relation to God. He also shows them how sin entered the world and the deadly effects it had on mankind.
This would be vital for Israel to understand if they were going to have a relationship with God. They needed to understand that their sins were a barrier to open fellowship with God.
Sin is deception
To think that sin will always look like sin is one of the most dangerous things we can do. Very few people go headlong into sin knowing full well that it is sin. Men often enter into sin unthinking, they simply do what comes natural, and sin is the most natural thing for fallen mankind.
Others are may think about what they are doing but they are deceived. Satan always does his best to make sin look like something else.
2Co 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Notice that Paul here uses two words to describe how the serpent presented sin to Eve. He deceived her with his cunning.
“Just as men marry in a rush and then are miserable with their mate, so they make mistakes about their souls in a minute, and then suffer for it for years. Just as a bad servant does wrong, and then says, “I never gave it a thought,” so young men run into sin, and then say, “I did not think about it–it did not look like sin.” Not look like sin! What would you expect? Sin will not come to you, saying, “I am sin;” it would do little harm if it did. Sin always seems “good, and pleasant, and desirable,” at the time of commission.”
What this means is that if we are not looking for sin, we can be sure that sin has already found us but it came by a different name.
What did Eve see in the fruit?
- It was good for food
- It was a delight to the eye
- It could make her wise
additionally the serpent deceived Eve about the consequences of eating the fruit. “You shall surely not die”
The truth is she did not immediately die. Her death would be centuries later. Yet, the seed of death entered Eve as she made that first bite. The poison of death was consumed and there was no turning back. Just like those firefighters who had no idea about the levels of radiation they were receiving, death had already entered their systems.
Sin is wrong belief
Sin can be partly defined by saying that it is “Doing that which opposes God’s will or failing to do what God wills.” This however is only a partial definition because ultimately sin comes from wrong belief.
All sin is the result of us failing to believe God’s Word and believing something else instead.
Eve believed the serpent instead of God and that is why she ate the fruit.
- We may give verbal ascent to something. We may say that we believe in righteousness, and justice, and honesty. But when it comes down to it, we never really commit a sin without holding on to a belief hidden somewhere deep in our hearts that this action is right for me at this time.
This is why the Gospel is about belief! If sin is the result of wrong belief then true righteousness is the result of right belief.
Sin is wrong worship
Our sins are the result of false belief which leads us to wrong worship.
Sins are not remote islands of personal choice and preference, rather all sins are sacrifices on the altar of our chosen idols. All sin always leads to idols. Tell me the sins of a person and it will not be hard for me to tell you what their idols are.
Where do we see idol worship in Eve’s choice to taste the forbidden fruit? Eve put herself in the place of God she believed the serpent when he said, “you will be like God” Her sin was an act of self worship.
Sin is primarily against God
At it’s core all sin is man’s futile attempt to play god. Somehow we think we know better, we God’s rules and laws aren’t good for us. We usurp his authority every time we sin. We practically say, “God you are not as smart and wise as me.” We put ourselves above God and bring God down.
Our problem is that we tend to see sin only in relation to our society and what is or isn’t accepted. We also tend to see sin in relation to its immediate consequences.
Situation #1: If you cheat on your taxes it’s not usually thought of as that bad. Yes, it’s dishonest but no one is really visibly hurt by it. In fact you might look at it in quite the opposite way. You feel like you’re paying too high of taxes, you think the government should learn to do with less, you know that your family really needs the extra money. So you feel good about your dishonesty.
Situation #2: A multi-billion $ corporation “cooks the books” in order to get more investments and improve their stock price. For awhile it works and everyone is happy, there’s plenty of money to go around and the company is providing employment for hundreds of people! Then the company gets audited and the dishonesty is found out. As a result the company’s stock price tanks, hundreds of people lose their job and their retirement.
It’s easy for us to condemn the evil accountant in the 2nd situation for “cooking” the books and causing hundreds of people to lose their jobs. However, what is the difference really? The difference between you or I cheating on our taxes and the corporation cooking the books is really very little. It is in fact the same in nature. Both are a dishonest representations of how much money you really have.
The difference is only of effect! Same sins, different effects!
“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.”
Psalms 51:3-4 ESV
Sin is deadly
“therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.”
Genesis 3:23 ESV
The curse of sin was banishment from the garden, that meant they could not eat from the tree of life, they could not have close fellowship with God. Since God is the source of life, they would die.
How would it change our attitude towards sin if we understood it’s deadly connection?
Governments have tried to do this with cigarettes but putting the surgeon general’s warning on them, yet even that doesn’t stop people. Imagine if in every 1,000 packs of cigarettes they put an exploding cigarette that would just take your head off! Would that change people’s attitudes?
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23 ESV
Sin is our nature not just an action
“As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.” -CH Spurgeon
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Sin is worse than we think
We often look at someone like Hitler who was the main person responsible for the “extermination of millions of people and the instigator of WWII in Europe. We see in him true evil but it seems like he is an exception. Thankfully there are not many people who have taken their evil as far as Hitler, However, I think we need to look at Hitler not necessarily as being much more evil than others but rather of having the right circumstances which allowed him to practice his evil with great power and authority and few limitations.
The truth is that there are many Hitlers in our world today. Many people who are without Christ and if given the opportunity, if given the power, if given the authority would act in similar or even in worse ways than Hitler did.
I am the worst of sinners!
When it comes to the topic of sin we need to be careful that we don’t have a finger pointing attitude but rather that we like Paul first recognize the depth of sin in our own hearts.
15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
Without this recognition our gospel message will be hollow. We may condemn every sin there is but it will lack the compassion and humility needed.
Furthermore, without this self understanding of our own sin we will be much less likely to even want to preach the gospel. It is my belief that as a Christian grows closer in his walk with God he feels more acutely the depth of his own sin.
The Amazing Truth of the Gospel
The word “Gospel” means good news. It is good news precisely because it is God’s answer to sin. The problem of Gen 3 doesn’t go away in the Old Testament, in fact it deepens, widens and leads man in a more hopeless and helpless state than ever.
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.