We misunderstand sin.
To start off, today we misunderstand sin. Sin is seen as something that sets a person apart from the rest of nice society. It’s a way of dismissing someone as worthy of the flames of Hell and the wrath of God.
Something like those Christian’s see X (tattooed, homosexual, drunkards, sex ‘addicts”) as sinners and so dismiss them to feel better about themselves and there own goodness or holiness. They like to talk about them to get their kicks and feel fulfilled.
(Now there are examples of people that believe something somewhat similar to this, but this is not the authors intent)
I admit if this is actually the picture of sin and how it relates to Christians I would agree it sounds a whole lot like a dark fairy tale made up to stroke our egos.
What is sin?
Rather than this picture sin is described in the Bible as unrighteousness or falling short of the way a person should be.
How we can see this in the Bible.
A good definition comes from a thorough look at the passages or chapters in the Bible that communicate about sin, let’s look at one in detail:
(NOTE: this is a good time to note that good Biblical understanding comes from understanding books, chapters and the logical coherent thought the author is trying to communicate. Not, proof texting or taking a verse and trying to analyze it without thinking about what the author is saying. Doing that is like quoting Nixon’s words “I am not a crook” without looking into what happened in Watergate, you could end up with all kinds of wrong understandings of what sort of thing he was doing to feel like he had to tell the country that. In the same way verses outside context take on the life of the storyteller and not their original meaning)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
— Romans 1:18
This is a basic statement of sin. To break it down sin has to do with suppressing the truth for not so valid reasons. The word men here literally means the human race, everyone, this is clearer later in chapter 3 when Paul says:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
— Romans 3:23
So, back to Romans 1, Paul begins to describe the first or initial sin and how it led to what is known as the depravity of man (human beings).
because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
— Romans 1:19
So we know God exists and we know what He is like from some basic facts that every person has access to.
My purpose is to describe sin though so I’m not going to jump into how that is but if you want to see some of the ways you can read through this blog post: https://revivalinjesusway.wordpress.com/2020/01/27/troubleshooting-and-culminative-arguments-the-reasonableness-of-christianity/
Interestingly Paul’s point here is not so much that we say God doesn’t exist as it is that we reject what He is like. We make up God to be something He is not. (see the following few verses to see what I mean)
So jumping down, we want to remember two things:
1. Romans 3:23 and 1:18 describe sin as a humanity wide issue.
2. This humanity wide issue started with a humanity wide denial of God despite good evidence.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
— Romans 1:28-32
The they here being humanity as a whole. So following our leaving God as a race but also as individuals rejecting God’s authority and His character and making up our own ideas of what He is like we enter into depravity. Depravity here again is human wide. Depravity leads to us being all sorts of things a person shouldn’t be: we aren’t loving in relationships as we should be, we boast unnecessarily (kind of like the “Christians” pictured at the beginning of the post), we envy each other etc…
To show I’m not trying to pull the wool over your eyes or that this isn’t something Paul just made up here are some other verses that point out the same thing. (https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/All-Have-Sinned)
Further we all know this is true about us humans. We are weirdly envious, weirdly hateful, prone to deceiving to get our way etc. Something is off about us and we have a tendency to do things that we feel guilty about. This is the Biblical idea of sin. We are off from what we should be and we are to blame for that offness. This is the great problem of humanity. We desire to be good, but the good we desire to be we don’t live up to and that’s wrong…
How should we respond?
So what should we do when we realize we are not all that we should be?
Peter’s second speech after receiving the Holy Spirit is instructive:
Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
— Acts 3:19
So, we should:
1. Repent and confess our sins to God
2. Turn back from the thing you’ve been convicted about by seeking to follow in the way God leads
3. Be refreshed. God will bring restoration as we confess and turn to Him.