Jesus Christ is our Saviour - but what do we need saving from? Sin. Our sin. Sin is any offense against God, and even when we lack a full knowledge of what offends God or the self-awareness to recognise that our actions are offensive, nevertheless we are still acting in a way that offends Him.
We are supposed to remain forever in study of His word and under counsel of the Spirit so that we might better understand God's expectations and thereby cease sinning. Nevertheless, by our faith in Christ all our sins are forgiven - both those we know and those we don't know - so that we stand before Him eternally justified. Praise the Lord for His grace!
Sin involves the refusal of humankind to accept its God-given position between the Creator and lower creation. It flows from decisions to reject God's way and become our own "gods" or make up one that doesn't want us to change and likes us just the way we are.
I spent most of my life deciding that if there was a God, I was good because I wasn't nearly as bad as others in the world. I compared my sin to others and decided for myself I was right with God, but I wasn't.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)
Sin is elusive. Sin has no substance, no independent existence. It does not even exist in the sense that love or justice do. It exists only as a parasite of the good or good things. Sin creates nothing; it abuses, perverts, spoils, and destroys the good things God has made. It has no program, no thesis; it only has an antithesis, an opposition. Sometimes wickedness is as senseless as a child who pulls the hair or punches the stomach of another, then honestly confesses, "I don't know why I did that." In some ways sin is an absence rather than a presence: it fails to listen, walks past the needy, and subsists in alienation rather than relation.
Negative as sin is, it hides itself under the appearance of what is good. At the first temptation, sin operated under the guise of claiming good things such as food and knowledge. Even the goal of being like God is good in some ways; after all, God made the first couple in his image. Similarly, when Satan tempted Jesus, the second Adam, he offered things good in themselves: food, knowledge, and rule over the kingdoms of the earth. Sin and temptation continue to appeal to things good and desirable in themselves. Fornication promises bodily pleasure, boasting seeks honor, by breaking promises or vows people hope for release from hardship. Someone can make a persuasive defense for almost every offense.
Yet ultimately, sin is most unreasonable. Why would Adam and Eve, well-cared-for and without propensity toward sin, rebel against God? Why would a creature want to rebel against the Creator? The prophets find Israel's rebellion absurd; even animals know better. "The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand" ( Isa 1:3 ).
Although negative and irrational, sin is also a power. It crouches at Cain's door, ready to devour him ( Gen 4:7 ). It compels Paul to do the evil he does not wish ( Rom 7:14-20 ). It moves and is moved by demonic and societal forces. It enters the heart, so that wickedness wells up spontaneously from within ( Matt 15:17-19 ). Its stronghold is the all but instinctive tendency to put one's own interests and desires first. From the selfish heart comes rebellion, godlessness, cursing, lies, slander, envy, greed, sensuality, and pride ( Matt 12:34-37 ; Rom 1:18-32 ).
Three factors compound the tragedy of sin. First, it pervades the whole person; no sphere escapes, for the very heart of the sinner is corrupt ( Psalm 51:5 ; Jer 17:9 ; Rom 8:7 ). Second, evil resides in the heart of the crown of God's creation, the bearer of God's image, the one appointed to rule the world for God. The remarkable capacities of humans to think, plan, persuade, and train others enables wickedness to become clever and strong. Third, sin is proud; hence it resists God and his salvation and offers a counterfeit salvation instead ( 2 Thess 2:2-4 ).
Despite all its dismal qualities, sin makes one contribution. Because God chose to redeem his people from it, sin has been the stimulus for God's demonstration of his amazing patience, grace, and love ( Rom 5:6-8 ; Gal 2:17-20 ; 1 Tim 1:15-17 ). So the study of sin need not merely grieve the Christian. From a postresurrection perspective, sin indirectly gives opportunity to praise the creating and redeeming Lord for his gracious deliverance ( Rom 11:33-36 ).
So fellow sinners, thats the bad news, heres the good news...