This is a topic no one likes to talk about much anymore. In fact, churches are warned to stick to “more practical” topics if they expect to see church growth (usually defined as increased numbers of attendees). However, sin is a real issue that is talked about at length in the Bible. From Adam’s fall as described in the book of Genesis, through to the events described in the book of Revelation, we see God dealing with the issue of sin—man’s rebelliousness. The truth is, God hates sin. In fact He hates sin so much that He sent His Son to die for our sin. Ought we to ignore something on which God has put such importance?
The problem that quickly comes up in any discussion concerning sin, is how are we to define it? After all, didn’t Paul say that we are not under Law but under Grace and that “…all things are lawful…”? After all, should we not avoid the lists of things that in the past that have led to legalism? The idea so often brought out is that sin is something personal between individuals and God with the idea that “What is sin to me may not be sin to you”.
While there is some truth in all the ideas brought out in the statements above, there is more to be said about sin. Paul, in Romans while affirming we are saved by grace, also very emphatically instructed us not to continue in sin (Romans 6:1-2). Paul admonishes believers in Christ to walk in the Spirit not in the flesh (Galatians 5). Paul makes it clear that while we are no longer under the judgment of the Law, there is such a thing as sin, which we are to avoid.
But what makes a particular activity “sin”? We, in our fleshly nature, are quick to justify our own actions as “not being that bad” or “something that God understands” while overlooking the fact that sin is anything that run contrary to the will of God in our live, that is, when we let our wills override that of God, it is sin. Isn’t that what we see described in Genesis 3:1-6. The serpent tempted Adam and Eve with the promise that they would “…be as gods…”, or in other words they could decide for themselves what is right or wrong. All of us their descendents have been doing that ever since. We have been doing as in the days of the judges of Israel when “… every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. To keep oneself from sin is to keep in God’s will.
To determine God’s will, we look to His Word. Certain things are clearly against His will. Certainly God does not condone murder, adultery, lying or stealing. But what about the so called “grey areas” we encounter in life? Romans 6 gives five tests and Galatians gives two more. These tests are:
1. Can I honestly say God would have me do this thing? All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient. I Cor. 10:23 a
2. Does this activity build me (or others) up in Christ?…all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not I Cor. 10:23 b
3. Does this activity bring me under bondage? ...all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. I Cor. 6:12 b
4. Does this thing mean a step back in my Christian walk? Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. Romans 6:18
5. I am set apart for God’s purposes, does this activity honor God? …even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. Rom. 6:19b
6. Does this thing destroy or lead to eternal life? The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord? Romans 6:23
7. Will my action hurt others? 24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. I Cor. 10: 24, 31-33.
Sin is a choice. Will I choose my will or that of God? Will I seek my own way or seek to draw closer to Him?