Some doctrines are so elementary in the Bible you wonder how they could be misunderstood. This is not the case as many so-called Christians disagree on elementary doctrines like faith and grace and baptism. Likewise, “sin” ought to be a topic we all could agree on, but it turns we don’t. There is much confusion and error being put out some religious folks out there and it is having a major negative impact. Let’s take a look at what the Scriptures say about sin.
The Bible teaches that sin is many things. It is trespassing the commandment of God, 1 Jn. 3:4. Sin is doing “wrong” or it is not doing “right”, Col. 3:25; Jas. 4:17. Sometimes sin is done in ignorance and sometimes we make the choice to disobey our conscience, Heb. 9:7; Rom. 14:23. In Romans 2, Paul talks to the Christians about the justice and wrath of God that is being stored up against those who do not obey Him. Numerous times in the first 11 verses of that chapter does the Apostle show that sin is connected with actions. Contrast that with the modern idea that says man is born with a “sin nature” which is doctrine concocted from Satan himself. God would not be so unjust as to hold something against His children which they had nothing to do with creating. No, sin is disobedience by those who know better. The Gospel call for people to repent is not preached to infants and children. It’s preached to adults who have the sin, who can understand the Gospel and be pricked by it, and who can make the commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Children have no sin — and no sin nature — to repent of and thus Jesus says we must become like them.
Sin is deceitful. The Hebrews writer said, “But encourage one another day after day,…so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). The father of lies likes to conceal the real effect of sin. Sin promises so many things but delivers nothing but pain and death. It promises knowledge, but brings only ignorance. It promises happiness and pleasure, but only delivers sadness and hurt. It promises freedom while enslaving those it captures. “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Tit. 3:3). Sin promises life but it “brings forth death” (Rom. 5:12). It promises cheap, no costs thrills but it costs so much. If the costs of sin could be monetized, the benefit costs ratio would show sin to be a bad deal. But the person in sin doesn’t but rarely see because his mind has been deceived, blinded by the God of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). Christians should be reminded of the terrible consequences of sin. Do not be deceived.
Sin is a hindrance to the Christian walk. The Hebrews writer said, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Heb. 12:1). The word “encumbrance” connotes “bulk, mass, weight”. The word “entangle” carries the idea of something that “skillfully surrounds, besets”. If you ran a race, you would not bind your legs. Imagine if someone stepped onto the Olympic track a hundred pounds over weight. The crowd would gasp. He wouldn’t win because the weight would hinder. To run the race the Hebrews writer says we must “lay aside” sin. Each person who believes in Jesus Christ makes the decision to “lay aside” things like malic, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, filthiness, and everything in accord with the “deeds of darkness” (1 Pt. 2:1; Jam. 2:1; Rom. 13:12). To win the Christian race, people of faith lay aside sin.
Sin defiles the worship a man brings to God. Besides the other harm it brings, sin makes our worship displeasing to God. Concerning Israel which had become rebellious, disobedient, and idolatrous, the Hebrews writer says, “in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have taken no pleasure” (Heb. 10:6). Israel learned it could not act like the world and please God at the same time. For Christians to be “living and holy sacrifices to God”, they must “cleanse their hands” and offer to God what is holy (Rom. 12:1,2; 1 Tim. 2:8; Jas. 4:8). Pleasing worship to God is only possible with the right attitude. “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28). Are we thankful to God? Do we revere Him? If so it will show in holy living and it will make our worship pleasing to Him. Sin ruins all of that, so repent if you need to.
Christians need to develop a militant attitude against sin. When the Hebrews writer was talking about running the Christian race and the discipline the Father gives to help us, he says to the Christians, “you have not yet RESISTED to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” Think about those two words, resisting and striving. To “resist” means to “stand against, to dispose troops, to set an army in line of battle” and “strive” means “struggle, fight” against. That the militant attitude that Believers should have against sin. It is so deceitful and hurtful that Christians must get serious about defeating sin in their lives. That’s why they are told to “lay aside” those encumbrances and things that “so easily entangle”. Unless we are serious about the battle, it’s hard to imagine that any meaningful victory will be won.
Ultimately, victory over sin is won by faith in Jesus Christ. For all the addressing of sin and laying it aside, Jesus Christ does for us what we could never do. We are imperfect and “fall short of the glory of God”. John wrote that “faith is the victory that overcomes the world” (1 Jn 5:4). Our faith is not in ourselves or in our good works. Legitimate, meaningful, powerful faith is focused straight on Jesus Christ. Jesus bore “the sins of many” to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26,28). We have victory through Jesus Christ who completely understands us and sympathizes with us (Heb. 4:15). Let it never be said that Christians believe they think they are good enough to have salvation. Christians know their need like few others do and they never take their eyes or faith off of Jesus.
Sin is the major problem for man and man can be forgiven today. God has made salvation full and free. It’s His gift for those who have “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; 1 Thess 1:3). Do you believe in Jesus? Do you want to escape the awful punishment that is coming on the sinful, disobedient world? Then turn away from sin, repent and be baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and you shall be saved (Acts 2:38,41; 3:19; 22:16; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pt. 3:21). Today you may be delivered from sin by putting your faith in Jesus Christ.