When you hear/read the above word, what reaction do you have?
For many, the word sin carries a lot of negative weight – it can even feel dirty or somehow sinister and is often associated with shame. The Good News is that Jesus didn’t approach sin in such negative ways.
Jesus’ purpose in focusing on sin was about hope and restoration, not condemnation and exclusion.
Unfortunately, it seems that many modern Christians focus more on the condemnation and exclusion side of that equation than the hope and restoration side.
That has to change! We need a new starting point for how we view sin.
Brian talked a lot about that reality in the sermon below. We encourage you to watch it before continuing with this session.
Here are the Central Themes from that Message:
- Jesus raised the behavioral standard so high that no one could make a passing grade.
- God is on an endless pursuit to restore a relationship with sinners.
- Jesus never minimized the seriousness of sin, but he did not condemn sinners.
With this in mind, let’s dive into some sin...
or at least some thoughts on the subject.
Watch this 60 second video about the basics of sin.
Now let’s dig a little deeper. Author Norton Herbst has written a great article in which he answers the question, “What is Sin?” It is a rather heady article, but not too long and well worth a careful read.
There a couple of key concepts to lift up from the article. The first is this quote from St. Augustine:
Sin arises when things that are a minor good are pursued as though they were the most important goals in life. If money or affection or power are sought in disproportionate, obsessive ways, then sin occurs. And that sin is magnified when, for these lesser goals, we fail to pursue the highest good and the finest goals. So when we ask ourselves why, in a given situation, we committed a sin, the answer is usually one of two things. Either we wanted to obtain something we didn’t have, or we feared losing something we had.
There is a lot of truth in these words. Take a moment to reflect on them and consider how they speak to the reality of sin in your life.
- What are the lesser goods that tempt you to pull away from the higher good?
- How do the last two sentences address the root cause of sin?
Here is another quote from the article that points to the same conclusion, but in a more contemporary (and easy to read) manner:
Sin occurs when one’s attitudes and actions serve oneself to the detriment of others or our relationship with God. Whether it is manifest in gossiping, losing your temper, or failing to love your neighbor as yourself, selfishness is at the heart of sin.
No one likes to be called selfish. Perhaps that is why we struggle so much to confess our own sinful nature. In doing so we are acknowledging the basic fact that we are guilty of putting ourselves before others, even when we know it is wrong – a behavior we began exhibiting very early in our lives (AKA “the terrible twos”).
Check out how this short video talks about the nature of sin (and goodness) in our lives:
So, while there is something in human nature that pulls us toward selfishness and sin from the very beginning of our lives, there is also a spark of good that is also within each one of us.
So we are faced with a choice – some might say a dilemma. Do we choose to embrace the spark of good or the sin that is within us?
Consider the following scriptures:
For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23-24
It’s pretty clear that all of us have sinned and by the way, when it comes to this passage, ALL means ALL.
Given that we are all guilty of it, why do you think people are often uncomfortable in claiming their status as a sinner?
- Are you comfortable claiming that status?
Early in the morning Jesus came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” John 8:2-11
The woman caught in adultery was guilty. The law clearly condemned her. Jesus did not.
- What does that say to you about how Jesus responded to
- How does that shape how we are called to respond to
Okay, so that is enough to give us a starting point on sin. In our next session, we will be sharing with you some powerful examples of how God’s love not only overcomes our sins, but brings us to a new home in grace.
We can’t wait to share that GOOD NEWS with you!
If you have a thought to share or question to ask, feel free to post a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!