Christians still talk about sin. The world has moved on, or at least it’s trying to move on. But we still talk about sin.
As the world tries to move on from sin, it preaches acceptance. But it’s acceptance without forgiveness, and so it gives no peace. Concerning those things that Scripture classifies as sins, the world says, “No, that’s normal.” And I think they are well-meaning. They see guilt as a mental issue, and not a spiritual issue. And that actually makes sense if you take God out of the equation. If there is no God, then who’s to say what’s right or wrong? And if there’s no one who can authoritatively say what is right and wrong, then there should be no guilt. So they see guilt as a mental construct caused by overzealous religious people trying to impose their morality on others. Their solution is to preach acceptance. And if that doesn’t work, perhaps the overzealous religious people need to be silenced. So far, it hasn’t worked. As the message of acceptance has exploded in our culture, especially among young people, so has mental illness, especially depression. The reason, they claim, is that overzealous religious people, especially Christians, are shaming them. The only way to test that theory is to completely silence any talk of sin. But by then, the damage will be catastrophic.
Guilt is not a mental issue. It is a spiritual issue. In our sin, we are guilty before a righteous and all-knowing God. Our consciences know this, even if we profess to not believe in God. So the only cure for a guilty conscience is (and always will be) forgiveness. And so, as Christians, we need to hold onto the concept of sin. And we need to hold onto, even tighter, the message of forgiveness. And we must keep this word of forgiveness as close to our tongues as we possibly can. A hurting world needs it.
Our sin separates us from God, but not in the way we might think. We may think that God is angry at us for our sin. This is not the case. God condemned all sin in the flesh of his Son. He is no longer angry over sin. He is not angry with you. Sin separates us from God, not by turning God off to us, but by turning us off to God. It draws our hearts away so that we trust in something else, we find our joy in something else, and we find our identity in something else. We begin to love other things, but those things cannot satisfy for long, and they cannot save us. They are, ultimately, hopeless. So we confess our sin, and we find hope in the forgiveness earned by Jesus.
Then we can also recognize that God’s commandments are not burdensome. He gave them to us for our good. It’s his design for how the universe should function. So we live better, healthier, and happier lives when we live according to God’s design. So the problem with sin is that it hurts us, it hurts those around us, and it draws our hearts away from the one true God. God promises to forgive us when we confess our sins. And he does forgive us. So we can freely give up our illusions that we’re just fine the way we are. We can confess our sin. We can delight in Jesus’ forgiveness. This is our hope for this life and the next.
The peace of Christ be with you all,