Big Christian Words: SIN
It's only got three letters, but is one of the most important words you need to understand.
When was the last time you or a friend talked about your sin together? I’m guessing not very often, if at all. Sin is one of the 'Christian-ese' words that gets used a lot. Unfortunately, it’s mostly used when we are talking about other people rather than ourselves …
In my last big words article I spoke about the word ‘revelation’ which is where God reveals or unveils something that was hidden or secret - things like himself, his character, the nature of his kingdom and even the gospel.
One of the biggest revelations in the Bible is finding out that we are all sinful and that we sin.
What is sin?
In both the Old and New Testaments, various words are translated as the word 'sin', each with its own different meaning. Here are a few ways the word is used:
- Sin is failing to hit a target, reach a standard or failing to obey authority. And the standard unreached, the target missed, the path abandoned, the law broken, and the authority defied are, in each case, God’s
- Sin is turning away from what God has commanded (Exodus 32:8) and towards a forbidden way of our own (Isaiah 53:6)
- Sin is opposing God, retreating from God, turning your back on God, defying God, and ignoring God
So, the essence of sin and being sinful is 'playing God'. That means:
- Rather than living for God, you live for yourself
- Rather than pleasing God, you please yourself
- Rather than worshipping God, you worship yourself or something else that you think is more important
Who sinned first?
The first sin is recorded in Genesis 3. God had told Adam and Eve, our first parents, not to eat of the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden or they would die. Satan (or the Devil) comes along and tells them:
'No! You will not die,' the serpent said to the woman. 'In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' (Genesis 3:4, HCSB)
And so …
Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6, HCSB)
You see, rather than listening to God, Adam and Eve listened to the Devil. Rather than pleasing God and obeying him, they decided they knew better than God. They wanted to be 'god', instead of God.
Unfortunately, we still feel the effects of this first sin today.
How does sin affect us?
In Romans 1:21, Paul says these sobering words on the effect of sin:
For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. (HCSB)
Sin affects everything - our brains, our will and our heart:
- We don’t think properly, so we are confused about right and wrong
- We don’t act properly, so we choose death over life
- We don’t worship properly, so we worship the creation rather than the creator
In fact, the Bible is pretty clear; everyone is affected by sin:
As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away ...' (Romans 3:10-11,12, NIV)
Have you got the point yet? Sin is bad, yet we all do it, and God hates it.
The Good News about our sin
The Bible brings good news: although we sin, God, through Jesus, has dealt with our sin.
At the cross, Jesus willingly took our place, as our substitute, for our sins.
The law in the Old Testament declared that the punishment for sin is death (God didn’t lie to Adam). And because we all sin, we will all die and face the consequences of our choices.
But God does an awesome thing in Jesus. Listen to this fantastic promise:
God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us [that is you and me], so that in him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)
In a great exchange, Jesus, the one who did not sin, takes our sin and deals with our death and punishment. And, in exchange, we are declared righteous, or not guilty, when it comes to sin – only because of Jesus.
Click here for a video that explains it a little more …
So what we need to do is trust and have faith in Jesus - in that he has dealt with our sin on the cross on our behalf.
And that’s what we will talk about next! What is faith and how does it work? Stay tuned for more soon ...