You say, ‘I am innocent; he is not angry with me.’ But I will pass judgment on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’ (Jeremiah 2:35)
In today’s world, the concept of ‘sin’ is a rather quaint idea. These days ‘anything goes’, as long as it ‘doesn’t harm anyone else’. So, we talk about mistakes, or momentary lapses, or errors of judgment, or little character weaknesses – but never ‘sin’, for sin is far too judgmental a word. The trouble is, all these expressions ‘let us off the hook’. So, the husband doesn’t need to say ‘sorry’, the politician doesn’t need to resign, the wrongdoer doesn’t need to own up. At best, it was always someone else’s fault (an excuse that goes right back to Adam and Eve!); at worst, it was just one of our little weaknesses.
All of this, however, underplays what the Bible means by sin. Sin isn’t a momentary lapse in my morals, behaviour or deeds; sin is an offence against God. ‘Against you, you only, have I sinned,’ said David when his adultery was uncovered (Psalm 51:4). This comes out in the words the Bible uses for ‘sin’, all of which concern God. In the Hebrew and Greek, the words used for sin imply things like: missing the target, stepping over the boundary, twisting the standard, rebellion. In all of these pictures it is God who is at the centre: it is God’s target that is not hit, God’s law that is broken, God’s purpose that is twisted, God’s will that is defied. Sin is not just some lapse of good judgment; it is going against God. It is living for ourselves and not for him - and then wondering why life doesn’t turn out right! And it is in this state of sin that we all naturally find ourselves.
Thank God, he has promised us a way out! And the way out is not to pretend sin isn’t there, but to ‘own up’, to ‘come clean’, to acknowledge what we have – for in doing so, we find, not God’s judgment, but God’s mercy. See for yourself today!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, KJV)
© Copyright 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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