The next post in my series deals with a very fundamental element in Christian life: Sin. Please note that I have intentionally capitalized “Sin”, because it is a universal failing in all humans; from the cradle to the grave, we all must deal with it. That’s what this post will deal with, Sin itself, not our various and sundry “sins”. Those are merely a symptom of a much greater malady, as we shall soon see.
I’ll begin with a clarification. When I say “Sin”, I’m referring to the condition we’re all born with, in which we’re all born separate from God, not the various things we do to violate God’s Law.
After the Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt, what would become known as the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-6) were handed down from God to the Hebrew people, through the prophet Moses. This is the beginning of what is now known as the Torah, or the Law.
These are laws that God laid down as a code of conduct for the Hebrew people. All told, there are actually more than 600 actual commandments, or Mitzvot, found in the Torah, and violating even one is a sin.
In order for one to be considered righteous, they must somehow avoid violating every one of those 600+ laws their entire lives. It goes without saying that this is not humanly possible. No one can go their entire lives without ever once violating a single commandment, and God knows this.
Now, why would He do this? Why would God intentionally set up a system in which all people are destined to fail, in one form or another? Simply put, He wants us to come to Him. He wants us to rely on Him for our salvation, and to do that requires that we build a trusting and loving relationship with Him.
Sin is, in short, the intentional separation of Man from God, beginning with the sins committed by Adam and Eve. Both of them violated a commandment given to them by God, and both were made to pay a price. (It’s strange that our culture only seems to focus on Eve’s Sin, but gloss over Adam’s, in the discussion on Original Sin)
As I mentioned, no one is free from Sin. It’s part of being human. Romans 3:20 says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The last part is what does us in, “by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
This means, if you know the Law, then you have no excuse. The Law points the way to what’s declared sinful, but it isn’t what renders us righteous. That requires some form of atonement, but that’s also a topic for another time.
For some, this will raise the question, “Does that apply to people who have gone their entire lives without ever being exposed to Scripture?” As was said in Jeremiah 31:33, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
God states pretty clearly that He will write His Law on the hearts of the people. Granted, He was addressing the people of Israel at the time, but He has made clear that His Law and His Word will be known throughout all of mankind, not just the descendants of the tribe of Judah, so Gentiles have no more excuse than the Jews do.
Paul takes things a step further just three verses later, when he says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”. He didn’t say “some” or “certain groups”, he said “all”. We’ve all fallen short, which is why Jesus came for us all. He came to cover every single example of how we’ve fallen short, and cover it He did while on the cross.
How important is Sin, anyway? I mean, when speaking on Sin, people like to play word games, create moral equivalencies, even go so far as to compare and contrast their sins with others, all with the goal of feeling better about themselves.
To hear some people tell it, God is waiting in Heaven, a pair of scales in His hand, waiting to weigh our good deeds vs. bad. They’re under the impression that God won’t condemn “good people”, because they’re “nice”.
Paul covers that in Romans 6:23, when he says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Let’s address death, shall we?
Many times, people like to look at this verse and interpret it to mean a physical death. People don’t seem to take the idea of a spiritual death into account, which is their downfall.
Until the moment that we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are all spiritually dead. Every last one of us are very much the walking dead, and it takes Jesus to resurrect us through His Love, Mercy and Grace.
In Isaiah 59:1-4, God speaks regarding the impact of Sin, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
4 None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.”
That’s a very heavy indictment, and it is being leveled at all of us. Me, you, the person reading over your shoulder, all of us are guilty and infected. All of us are in dire need of redemption, ASAP.
1 John 1:8-10, “8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
Take a moment and carefully consider yourself, your circumstances and the things you’ve thought, said and/or done. As the last passage shows, none of us can honestly claim to be spotless. However, this verse also offers a ray of hope, echoed by Jesus in John 14:6-7, “Jesus saith unto him, “6 I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”
If we freely come to Him, confess our sins, lay our burdens at His feet and allow Him to convict us, we will be cleansed of all our Sin. This is important, because God is, first and foremost, Holy. His divine nature means that He is unable to abide any Sin in His presence. If you have a single smudge on you, then you can’t be with Him. So much for God weighing our good deeds against our bad.