What Is “Sin” Anyway?

Do you know how little children can keep asking “Why?” to  almost any answer?  I’m going to play the child in this article.   The goal is to come to a fundamental answer for what is “sin” and why is it important.

So, what is sin?  You can answer with a list: idolatry, misusing God’s name, murder, dishonoring parents, etc.  Why?  It is because these things break God’s commandments.  Why does God make commandments against these things? At this point the answer is not as clear.  We could just say, “Because He is God.”  Without a doubt God has the right to make the rules, but I don’t find God to be arbitrary even if He is sovereign.

We could say “because these things are harmful to others.”  They are usually harmful, but sometimes the harm is hard to see.

We could be very skeptical and say, “The commands of God were the mores of society at the time.”  This answer denies God as the source of all morality and good and gives license for us to change the rules. This answer is not only inaccurate, it is dangerous.

In Genesis 3, the arrival of sin for mankind is connected with Adam and Eve’s disobedience regarding not eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There disobedience has brought great sorrow and condemnation on the world, so we can’t say God was holding out on us like they thought.  God was protecting us.  But from what exactly?  What is at the heart of evil?

I believe the answer is hatred and rebellion against God.  These are at the heart of Satan.  Satan has been the author of everything that is evil.  Sin may not have major negative impact in all of its forms.  In fact, sin can seem perfectly natural, because we are born with a sinful nature.  But sinful actions and the genetics that set us up to be sinful deviate from how God created us and deviate from the character of God.

Our social mores may drift over time, but what is truly sinful is sinful whether we recognize it as such or not.  During certain periods, the people of Israel didn’t regard their polytheism as sinful; but God certainly did.  Today, we wink at certain sexual sins or expressions of greed.  We are fools if we believe that God has changed with us.

Sin cuts us off from God.  Heaven does not contain sinners.  It would be devoid of the human race except for the fact that Jesus absorbed the punishment for all human sin himself.  If Jesus can break through to us and create a bond (faith) with us, we can still be with God, enjoy all that is good and move through our death to being sin free.

You are born sinful.  It feels natural.  It is natural in the sense that we are this way now.  But we are not meant to be this way.  Acknowledge sin as evil, even if it is dear to you.  Don’t normalize it.  For this short time mislabeled as “our life”, fight your sinful urges and confess them to God.  God loves you, wants you, understands your predicament and forgives you for Jesus’ sake.

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