Sin an Introdution by Thomas Clement Sin an Introdution by Thomas Clement

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(an introduction)

Edward Poucher (1914)

Sin defined
My Webster’s New World Dictionary, 1990, defines the word “sin” as “1) The willful breaking of religious or moral law; 2) any offense or fault.”

Seems pretty clear. “Any” offense or fault. Not “some.” Not “a few.” Not “most.” Not even “the one’s you don’t get caught doing.” It’s defined as “any” as in “all,” “every,” “each,” etc.

There are three things we can do about sin:
1) never do it
2) stop doing it
3) pretend that sin is something mean people invented a long time ago so we can’t have any fun today.

Number 3 has given us such morsels of moral relativism as “There’s no such thing as right or wrong,” “What’s true for you isn’t necessarily what’s true for me,” “It’s OK as long as it only involves consenting adults,” and the Jerry Springer show.

What qualifies me to write about sin? I’m an expert! No, I haven’t done every possible sin, just the one’s that interested me or made life “seem” more convenient. Still, that’s a database full. Have I committed enough sins to not get into Heaven? Well, it doesn’t look good. Don’t gloat. It doesn’t look good for you either.

Worldy Wisdom
There’s a mind set that if there is a Heaven -- maybe yes, maybe no -- but if there is, you should get in because you’re (say it with me) “basically a good person.” It’s not like you robbed a bank or murdered anybody. To many, those are the main qualifications for being allowed into God’s presence, as if there’s a form you fill out at Heaven’s front desk:

Name (last, first, middle initial)
Last Mortal Address
Phone/E-mail (for Heavenly use only;
we won’t share this with telemarketers)
Sex (please circle one)
Other (please explain)
Please circle the following either YES or NO
a) Have you ever
murdered anyone?
b) Have you ever
raped anyone
c) Have you ever
robbed a bank?
d) Have you ever
left the seat up?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, please skip to page two.

If you answered “No” to all of the above questions, congratulations! You’re now ready to enter Heaven, a gated community.

But what if you answered “Yes”? What does Page Two have in store?

“Welcome to page two. We regret to inform you that you will not be entering Heaven, but will be bussed to another location like Boston or St. Louis or Des Moines (though it will most likely be Hell). But you won’t go away empty-handed. You’ll receive a year’s supply of TurtleWax, “TurtleWax, the new standard in shine,” a collection of New York Times editorials, and "Heaven, the Home Game.”

What Does the Bible Say?
Naturally, you’d probably like to know what the Bible says about sin as opposed to what Worldly Wisdom says; Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Hmmm. Not a lot of wiggle room there. Perhaps you were hoping it said, “for all have done those little sins God could care less about, but since you haven’t shot up a Post Office or knocked over every AM/PM in the lower 48, then hey, no problem, you have NOT fallen short of the glory of God.”

Remember, there are things that we can do about sin. Look at the first: never do it. Perfect. To get into Heaven, just don’t sin. Let’s take murder. Most people I know have never murdered anyone which has made my personal life a lot less stressful. But most everyone I know (including me) have, at one time or another, thought about murdering someone, or at least seeing them mugged, doubled-over from food poisoning, publically humiliated, or on hold with tech support.

What does Jesus say about just thinking about sin? How bad could that be? Bad. Matthew 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

The thing to keep in mind, and it’s a HUGE thing, is that God cannot be around sin. That’s all there is to it. Do you want to have a relationship with God? Great, but don’t expect to be sinful and have God still be able to give you a hug. If you are unrepentant of your sin, no matter how small it is, He simply can’t get close to you (and He wants to be close).

This leads us to the other thing we can do about sin: stop it. Some sins you will be able to stop just by asking God’s forgiveness and asking Him to take the sin from your life. It’s true.

Some sins you think God has given you a handle on, though you back slide from time to time. So you keep at it. And the back sliding gets more and more rare until it stops altogether (this is also known as maturity).

You may find that a few sins take years or even your whole life to deal with. These are the sins where God really wants you to work on an aspect of your nature. And work on it. And work on it. And work on it. Don’t be discouraged. Stick to it. God knows what He’s doing (even when you don’t). Just don’t stop asking for forgiveness and working on yourself. God doesn’t give up on you, don’t you give up either.

No matter how big or how small the sin, don’t tackle it alone. You can’t. Go to God. Make sure you’re working on it by constant prayer, reading the Bible, fellowship with other believers, and still more prayer. Many keep a prayer journal and chart their progress (a good idea). God wants to see that you’re working on your sins. No one ever won anything by throwing up his hands and giving in. Don’t give in to sin. Fight it ferociously. God is on your side.

What about that third aspect, just pretending that there is no such thing as sin. Psalm 53:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Again, pretty straight forward. A person who does not believe in God isn’t necessarily someone who doesn’t understand right and wrong, good and evil (though many non-believers do suffer from this). Instead, his views of morality are built on nothing, changing with the times, changing again with what is cool, pleasurable, expedient. Compared to God’s Word, these are hardly reliable guideposts.

I believe sin exists. I believe I have sinned. And I now realize just how big even the most microscopic sin is: it’s enough to separate me from God! Any one of my sins is death to me. Even the sins I’m sorry for and try and make up for by doing good deeds or apologizing or trying to break sinful habits does not erase the sin itself. The lie, the insult, the bullying, the cheating, they all hover in the stretches that are my past. I can’t un-erase them. They sit like ugly hills on my history. I can’t get back to them and knock them down. I can’t rearrange dimensions to stop them for happening. My sins exist in time no matter what I do. This concept is so truly huge that it becomes crystal clear why it takes God himself to blot those sins out. That’s why God gave me His son, Jesus. Jesus is the only sacrifice that will take my sins away. And God made it so easy. All I have to do is belive, repent, and follow Him

Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

© Thomas Clement. Published by American Art Archives. All Rights Reserved.