In reformed circles we are really good at hitting total depravity. Maybe it’s just me projecting, but I feel like my students get that our human nature (without Christ) is totally opposed to God. And when we talk about sin - often - we focus on how it applies to us. But if I were to ask students, “what is sin?” I’m not so sure how they would answer. Not just students, but how would you answer this? I think we all know when we commit a sin. But how do we define it.
This question came from teaching Romans 3:22b-23. “For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
What makes sin so big?
When I was done reading this I asked ‘why?’ Why do these two things equal each other? Why is it that God is against sin? What makes sin so big?
As Christians we know the answer, but if we were asked why, we might struggle. So, why is God against sin. To understand sin we have to understand God. God is righteous, which essentially means that He is the very definition of what it means to be right. God holds every perfect view. How He shows this is by giving His law to us. God in giving us the ten commandments is God showing us who He is. We can see that God is one (He doesn’t want us to worship anyone else), that He is truth (He hates lying). I could give a list of every commandment and how it reveals God very character.
Because God’s character is this way, this is also His standard. Therefore God must hate what is naturally opposed to Him. But that forces us to ask the next question. What is sin? I believe that the Westminster Confession nails it on the head. “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.” Sin - essentially - is a purposeful stepping over the line and at the same time a failure to meet the line.
sins vs Sin
But this is rarely how we talk about sin. Most of the time we talk about sins. There is a difference between between Sin and sins. Most of the time when we talk about sins, we are downplaying it. We mean the slip ups that we have during the week, or that day. But Sin is very nature of our opposition to Him. It is a heart posture. It’s bigger than our simple mess ups. While it is true Jesus died for our sins, the greater thing that Christ died for was our Sin.
So, what’s the point?
Why do we need to talk about this? It’s because well intentioned Christians and Pastors mistakenly make sin smaller to help new or struggling Christians avoid becoming discouraged. But there is a great danger in this.
When we make sin smaller we make what Jesus did on the cross smaller.
Sin is never fun to teach about, preach about, or write about. But the better you understand your sin, the more you will worship Jesus for what He did for you.