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Sunday, August 16, 2015


There are some, likely many, maybe even most who believe that sin is bad, but not that bad. It's the reason that people object to the notion of Hell. "Really? Eternal torment for a few mistakes here on earth? That doesn't seem fair." This, however, is a product of an error.

John describes sin as "lawlessness". (1 John 3:4) Sounds simple enough. But Jesus said that the whole law was contained in two commands: Love God with all you are, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:36-40). James says, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." (James 2:10) So, the biblical definition of sin is ἀνομία -- anomia -- "no law". It is "God says ... but I won't." It is "I will make myself like the Most High." "Yes, I know You are God and, yes, I know You have the right to apply obligations, rules, requirements. I just don't care. I will do what I want to do." No law.

It is treason. "God rules, but I will replace Him."

It's not something small, minor, an infraction. Paul says, "The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot." (Rom 8:7) That's not minor; that's war. God said, "The intention of man's heart is evil from his youth." (Gen 8:21) (How young? David said, "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies." (Psa 58:3) How young? From birth.)

"Oh," they will still say, "it's not that bad. People are basically good." Yes, yes, I know that's popular. But it's wrong.

I was fascinated in my reading in Romans this week that Paul wrote this.
The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Rom 8:19-21)
"Sin isn't so bad." We'd like to think so. But this text argues that Man's sin subjected all creation to futility. Because of our sin, our world is in "bondage to corruption". Not so bad? No big deal? And that's just the effect on the creation.

Sin isn't minor. It's not like stealing a cookie or, worse, running a red light. It's not even like murder, something God says deserves death (Gen 9:6). It is lawlessness, an attempt at overthrowing the God of the universe in favor of our personal preferences. A single violation, James says, makes you guilty of all of it (which makes sense if sin is an attempt to overthrow God). And not one of us is a minor sinner. Our sins are many. On the up side, whoever is forgiven much loves much. "He who is forgiven little loves little." (Luke 7:47) Now, you may be a better person than I am, because I'm one in real need of a Redeemer. Guilty as charged. I am so pleased to have an Advocate who is the appeasement of God's wrath (1 John 2:1-2). I am so glad to know that the One who condemns is the One who died for me (Rom 8:33-39).

1 comment:

David said...

The "everyone is basically good" one always gets me. Look at any fiction about a post-apocalyptic world and it is dog eat dog, every man for himself. There is no "basically good" about it. Everyone in those fictions are only out to serve themselves and anyone that is "basically good" end up paying for it with their lives. If the writers of fiction can't agree we are basically good, how can we possibly think we are?