Basic Christianity Series #3: Sin
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The fundamental Biblical concept of sin can be summed up in a single word—rebellion. A variety of uses and translations can be found with comparable words and phrases such as transgression, guilt, lawless, to go astray, miss the mark, or to fall away. Ultimately, all sin includes some form of defiance against God and his standards for wholesome living. God’s standards have been well-expressed in Scriptures through his law, and in the character expressed in the life of his holy Son. In the light of these standards all of humanity has sinned and missed the mark.
Jesus spoke often on the topic of sin, and Scripture consistently reminds us that we are spring-loaded toward the glorification of self through the subtleties of pride, covetousness, blasphemy, immorality, a careless tongue, a feisty attitude, and little white lies. Although we recognize Satan as the deceitful source of many rebellious acts and thoughts, we must also be aware that the world system and our self-centered belief systems are a source for temptation and destructive thoughts.
According to the Bible, all humans born on this earth inherited a sinful nature from their parents, who inherited their sinful nature from their parents, all the way back to Adam and Eve, humanity’s original parents. Adam’s sin against God produced the moral corruption of an inherited nature passed down to each succeeding generation: …by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12).
You didn’t become a sinner because you committed a first sin. You committed your first sin because you were a sinner when you came into this world. No one had to teach you to lie, take what wasn’t yours, or angrily express selfish demands. These were natural expressions of your inherited sinful nature. This is the doctrine of original sin transmitted to all future generations from the first father, Adam.
If your biological father had died when he was a child you wouldn’t be here because the seed that produced you was in him. When Adam was justly condemned to die because of his sin, all who followed were also condemned to die. Death means separation from life—in this case, separation from the life of God.
The result of sin left the entire human race in a depraved and corrupt condition and every component of your being was affected. Your mind came into the world contaminated: …even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting (Romans 1:28).
Your understanding was limited and clouded: …having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart (Ephesians 4:18).
Your emotions and thought life were impaired: …although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:21).
Your reasoning was blinded. …even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
Your ability to willfully choose what is good was enslaved in crafty opposition to God: …we exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).
Like all of humanity, you came into the world ruled by the power of sin, and you quickly learned how to live in denial about your occasional sinful actions. Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world (1 John 2:16).
Sin continues to be a trial and test for all who have become Christians. During times of failure you sometimes sense an uneasy struggle with guilt, but seldom see yourself at war with God. But God’s Word tells us that …the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish (Galatians 5:17). There are also times when wrongful actions seem to come about almost without your personal consent. Yet attempts to come to grips with the reality of forces outside yourself are quickly put aside as unreasonable or nonsense. After all, how does a person come to grips with the reality that they might be a part of a larger battle? …we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
Is there hope? Yes, by God’s grace, mercy, and love, hope always abounds for those who believe. By a miracle greater than any formulated procedure, when you put your faith in Jesus Christ you were placed into the universal body of Jesus Christ, sealed there by God’s Holy Spirit: In Him you trusted, after you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance… (Ephesians 1:13-14). And now, in Christ, you are accepted just as you are, and made to be righteous because he is righteous. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). From being born in Adam to being placed in Christ—that’s your story by the miracle of his love and grace.
Do you still sin? Of course. All believers fall into the trap of sin as we are tempted on all sides by the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Apostle Paul continued to struggle with the power of sin in his life. After becoming a believer in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, he found himself continuing to wrestle with the subtle pulls of sin. In his words: I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge (Romans 7:18-23).
God has graciously given you his Holy Spirit to give you power and victory over sin in your daily life. To exercise that power you must depend on your ability to make good choices as you walk through this life. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). Sin has lost its ultimate power in your life, but you must learn to exercise your new spiritual power through willing choices to follow in the ways of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:2-4).
Confess your sins, learn to make sound decisions, stand against sin, take charge of your mind, emotions, and ability to make good choices, and put your life in God’s hands. he has well provided for you to live your life under his guidance. You are free from the guilt of the past. …there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1). Accept the challenge to live under God’s will, renew your mind, and learn to focus on …whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8).
Above all, claim the many beautiful promises he has given you and rest in his love and grace. Rely on his commitment to you and …the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).