Summary: Sin. Does the word make you squirm in your seat a little? What is the first thought that goes through your mind when I stand up here and start talking about it?
Sin. Does the word make you squirm in your seat a little? What is the first thought that goes through your mind when I stand up here and start talking about it? “Oh no, here comes a fire and brimstone sermon.” Is anyone offended if I stand up here and call you all a bunch of sinners? Of course I have to include myself in that as well. It is not a popular topic, and I don’t particularly like preaching about it.
However, the Bible is basically about two things, sin, which is primarily what the Old Testament is about, and the remedy for sin which is the New Testament. If you don’t like the word sin, then the Bible is going to be a very difficult book for you. Both the Hebrew and Greek words for sin mean to miss the mark or offend. Too often Christians have gotten stuck with the limited idea that sin is just breaking the commandments.
But it is so much more than that. Sin is anything we do, say or think that is not in line with God’s heart, so if anyone claims to be without sin they are a liar as the apostle John confirms. But I think to get a real idea of the nature of sin we need to look very closely at what Paul says in Romans 6, 7 and 8. Let me summarize.
Sin is not our nature, God did not create sinners. We talk about having a sinful nature, but that simply means we have a tendency toward sin. Sin came into the world through our bodies, sin lives in us. Not in our nature, but in our flesh, much like a virus. You wouldn’t say you have a flu nature. We have the sickness of sin. It was brought into the world by Satan, and it was activated for all humanity through one person, Adam. Notice even though Eve ate the fruit first, she is not credited with the original sin. She was deceived, tricked by Satan, it was Adam who chose to sin even after seeing Eve’s mistake.
As Christians Paul says our old spiritual self has died and been resurrected in Christ. What that means is that as believers, our spiritual self is now perfect, but it lives in this corrupted body that is dying because of sin. Our spiritual self is now saved from death, but our body will still die because sin lives in it.
Paul says it is not we who sin but the power of sin that lives in us, in our flesh. Some say that flesh means sinful nature, but that is not completely accurate. Paul uses the word sarx, which means literally meat or body stripped of skin, and our brain, including many of our learnings, and habits are included in this.
We who have died to the old self, which we have to choose, but God makes happen when we are reborn, have a choice of whether to be a slave to sin that lives in us, or slaves to our new spiritual self that also lives in us with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we choose sin, other times we choose God.
But we can never fully rid ourselves of sin until we are given a new body because that is where it lives, make sense? That’s why even though we are already made perfect spiritually by God, we still sin.
Now this topic could consume many sermons, but for today I just want us to understand the nature of sin as we look at the events in Genesis. Sin is a living power that lives in us, so when we call ourselves sinners, it is because we sin, but it is not who we are in Christ. And it has no eternal power over us anymore if we are in Christ.
But notice that God doesn’t punish our sinful behaviour. Yes there may be natural consequences, but God doesn’t punish for the actual sin per se. He punishes the refusal to repent after we sin, when he gives us the chance. Look at what Peter says in his sermon in Acts 2: “Repent and be baptized in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (that’s all), and you will receive the Holy Spirit. This promise is for everyone whom the Lord calls to himself.”
The Holy Spirit and the Law will show us our sin, and all God wants is for us to be sorry and make an effort to turn from that sin. But he knows we can’t not sin while in the flesh.
This is what the entire Old Testament is about. How God’s people continued to sin in spite of so many chances to repent and change their ways, and trust Him. Today we will see both a repeat of Adam of Eve in the Garden, and a repeat of the death and resurrection of Christ. What I mean is that the dynamics of what happened here with Noah and his sons, are very similar to the dynamics of the original sin, and people’s response to Christ’s act of redemption.