Summary: This is message about sin the cure for it.
What is sin? Has anyone every asked you that? Have you struggled with an answer? Over the last two thousand years there has been much debate and study on this three-letter word. A great deal of ink has been spilled on this subject. The Bible says several things regarding sin. Romans 14:23 says, “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” 1 John 5:17 says, “All wrongdoing is sin.” Proverbs 24:9 says, “The devising of folly is sin.”
John Wesley, the 18th century theologian, said, “Sin is a willful transgress [or breaking] of a known law of God.” Another definition that I remember hearing as a child is, “Sin is the nature of rebellion against God.”
The original Greek word that is often used in the New Testament, for sin means “missing the mark.” It is like an archer missing the bulls-eye on the target. There has even been much debate over what exactly that means. Some say it means that since we are in imperfect human bodies, we will never be able to live up to the standards that God has for us. Others say that means that sin is missing the mark as far as our intentions go. We may mess up, but if our intentions are pure then it isn’t sin.
Add on top of that, sin is both in human actions and it is also in human nature. We commit acts of sin. Our nature is such that we are inclined to sin.
With such a wide ranging affect and so many different points of view on the subject, there is little wonder that such confusion exists.
Turn with me to 1 John chapter 3.
Read 1 John 3:1-7.
We are confronted with four questions. What is sin? We have covered that a little already. What are the effects of sin? What is the remedy for sin? And, what are the effects of the remedy for sin?
Whenever there is a medical problem we want to know what the problem is. We want to know what the effect of the problem is. Then we want to know what the remedy is. Finally, we want to know what the effect of the remedy is.
For example, we could consider baldness. Baldness is a problem. The effect of the problem is that one’s head tends to get sunburned. The remedy is, perhaps, wearing a hat in the sun. Or, we could seek to reverse the baldness through medical means. The effects of that would be the growth of new hair.
What is sin?
This question just won’t go away. “What is sin?” John states one of the clearest definitions of sin in the Bible. “Sin is lawlessness.”
We come back to John Wesley’s definition of sin, “Sin is a willful breaking of a known law of God.” I am fully aware that God doesn’t want be to harm others. If I go and punch you in the nose, that is sin. I would be willfully disobeying a known law of God.
It goes deeper than that. It goes to our heart and our motive. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment,” and, “Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
Our actions begin in our heart. Our motives are born in our heart. John was dealing with a group of people who thought that there was no connection between the physical body and the heart or spirit. They lived lives of horrible sin, because they didn’t believe that there was any relation between the body and the spirit.
This brings us to the nature of sin. We are all born with that nature in us. We are born sinners. Every single one of us is born with the nature to shake our fist at God.
Outward compliance with the law of God is meaningless, if our inward spirit is still shaking our fist at God.
I am reminded of the little girl who was riding in the front seat of the car with her dad. All of a sudden she decided to stand up. Her father told her to sit down. After several warnings, he finally said, “If you don’t sit down immediately, I will pull the car off the road and give you a spanking.” The girl quickly complied with her father’s instructions. After a couple minutes, she turned to her father and said, “I am still standing up on the inside.”
That is the nature of sin. That is the nature of rebellion. We say we are following God’s law by not beating up someone we don’t like, but we still hate the person. It is just as bad, in God’s eyes, to hate that person as it is to beat them up.