Sin is not a popular subject to write about, even in Christian circles. In fact if you even mention the topic you are in danger of being seen as judgmental, pharisaical, or even prejudiced. After all, isn’t sin a matter of one’s private convictions? Can anything be considered wrong if it is private and doesn’t hurt others?
However, contrary to the conventional wisdom of today’s society, sin is real and is something to be concerned about. The reason for this concern is that God hates sin so much that He sent His son to die on a Cross at Calvary so that the eternal consequences and the power of sin would be broken. If this is a matter so important to God it ought to be so to us.
The difficulty in writing about sin is that we all have our own definitions as to what it is. Most Christians have lists of things they consider to be sins. These lists all too often come from what men say rather than the Word of God. The Bible mentions both sin, meaning our sin nature and transgressions which are acts against the will of God. Both ideas are important as we consider what sin is.
Genesis 3 gives the account of how sin came into the human race. The serpent told Eve: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). In other words, Adam and Eve were told that they would be their own gods if they were to do that which God forbade. We have all done the same thing by seeking our own wills over that of God. We all have sought our way over God’s way. We have all come short of the glory of God and are needy of God’s free gift of salvation through the Blood of His Son (Romans 3:23; 6:23, John 3:16) Forgiveness comes as we receive the Gospel (I Corinthians 15:1-5) by receiving God’s Son (John 1:12).
However, Paul introduces an interesting question in Romans 6 that goes something like this: “If we are saved by grace, i.e., God’s favor alone, why not keep on doing what we have been. After all we are forgiven, aren’t we?” Such thinking is prevalent in Christian circles today as more and more activities once considered as sin are accepted as normal Christian behavior. Paul’s reaction to such a statement could not have been stronger. “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2). Reading further we realize that Paul is telling us that we ought not to continue in sin because it keeps us in bondage, and Christ died to free us from that bondage.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to avoid sin is found in verse 23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Sin destroys. Sin causes destruction to ourselves and others. While God has forgiven, consequences remain to ourselves and those around us. Jesus died so we do not have to suffer those consequences, so why continues to disobey God bringing upon us hurts, pains, and destruction, God wants us to miss?
Next comes the difficulty in deciding what constitutes sin. However, going by the definition presented above, sin is anything outside the will of God. While some like to limit this to the Ten Commandments, the Bible gives so much more direction than that. Actions alone are not sin, but even ungodly attitudes (see Galatians 5:19-21). In actuality, it is not hard to find God’s will if one is willing to accept it from His Word.
The difficulty in defining sin is when we try to reconcile what God’s Word says about it with what the world around us says. We are told; “as long as it is two consenting adults”, “it’s just that he or she was made that way”, or “science says…” Make no mistake, what God’s Word says is true and men are the liars. Harsh? Maybe, but this is not something with which we ought to mess around. Sin destroys our relationship with God and men.
“But,” you say, “Doesn’t the Bible say we are not to judge others?” (Matthew 7:1) This verse refers to condemning others according to our manmade standards. Consider Galatians 6:1: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted”. Here we are told it is our business to help other Christians who are caught up in the bonds of sin so they can avoid those things that will cause destruction to their lives. However, our attitude must be one of helping in the spirit of humility, not with one of condemnation.
What about the unsaved who are practicing sin? Note this, the reason people go to Hell is not the fact they are doing what they are doing, but rather because they do not have Christ as their Savior. It is better to talk about the need of a Savior than emphasizing a particular sin because all sin leads to Hell. We are the ones who quantify things by saying a person who does such and such cannot go to heaven. The truth is all sin would disqualify us from heaven if it were not for the Blood of Jesus Christ. We would do better to speak the Gospel and allow the conviction to the Holy Spirit.
Remember God hates sin so much but loved us even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). So should we continue in sin? Certainly not. Should we ignore it? In no way! However we are not to set some manmade list as our standard. Instead go to the Word of God to see what He has to say and be willing to accept His Word when it conflicts with our own desires. Only in this way can have the freedom from the bondage Jesus died to secure for us.