I have a buddy that doesn’t believe there is such a thing as sin. He’s an admitted pagan – which I didn’t know actually existed anymore – so it shouldn’t be surprising coming from him. But when I hear those professing to be Christians say they don’t believe in sin, or at least some things the Bible calls sin, it’s really hard for me to bite my tongue.
For my pagan friend, not believing in sin is just convenient. No sin equals no accountability for one’s actions because you really can’t do anything wrong other than the big no-nos ascribed by society that will put you in jail. But for a Christian to say that something God calls sin is not in fact sin undercuts the entire foundation of Christianity so fundamentally that you may as well not call yourself a Christian anymore.
I’m going to take a few moments today to talk about why sin still matters but what I say may surprise you because most Christians don’t know their theology well enough to understand sin, which is why they write it off as no longer necessary in our faith.
If you call yourself a Christian, why do you need Jesus Christ?
Think about this one for a minute before you blurt out an answer.
You need Jesus Christ because you are a sinner and instead of God punishing you for your sins, Jesus came and took the punishment for your sins upon himself so that you and God could be reconciled.
You don’t need Jesus because he’s your friend or a good teacher, or even a prophet and king. You need Jesus because you are a sinner and fall short of the glory of God, so Jesus paid the price for our transgressions and offers us grace, mercy, forgiveness, and eternity with him if you accept him as your lord and savior.
That’s our basic theology as Christians. So let me ask another question:
What happens if you don’t sin? What exactly did Jesus do for you on the cross?
I’m hoping you’re seeing the problem here.
If you don’t sin you don’t need Jesus because you don’t need someone to pay the penalty for something you didn’t do! In other words, when you deny sin you deny Jesus’ work on the cross, thinking instead that in your own righteousness you’re pretty much good enough to get to heaven and be reconciled with God on your own.
Let me just share that that kind of thinking definitely won’t get you into heaven, according to scripture.
So what kinds of things are Christians denying as sin? Pretty much anything outside the 10 Commandments these days, and I’m not sure I’d even go that far – maybe only six commandments. Does anyone really take keeping the Sabbath, honoring your parents, taking the lord’s name in vain, or coveting that seriously anymore? You can see Christians ignore these daily.
How about these:
- Being Harsh with Your Wife
- Calling Someone a Fool
- Not Loving People
- Not Loving God
- Lusting After a Woman
- Thinking Wrong Thoughts
- Using Coarse Language
- Sex Outside of Marriage
- Getting Drunk
There’s more but you get the idea. In our culture today everything is permissible because we live in a time of moral relativism. But those of us who call ourselves Christians cannot go there no matter how much peer or cultural pressure there may be. To deny the things that God calls sin is to deny the necessity for Jesus in our lives, which in fact is to deny Jesus.
Now here’s the part that some people miss. Jesus died for the homosexual. Jesus died for the adulterer. Jesus died for the divorcee. Jesus died for the murder. Jesus died for the rapist. Jesus died for every one of us regardless of how egregious our sin may be. And when he did, it meant that we no longer go to hell for our sins.
I know that sounds counter biblical but let me walk you through this.
Jesus died for the sins of the world and his death demands a response. One can either accept Jesus’ atoning death for themselves, thus accepting Jesus as their lord and savior, receiving grace, mercy, forgiveness and eternity with him. Or one can reject Jesus’ atoning death and not be reconciled with God, rejecting a relationship with God and thus choosing to be separated from God for eternity. Those are your choices. It’s actually pretty simple.
Paul talks about various types of sinners going to hell and not being able to get into heaven, but those people are ones who have rejected Jesus’ offer of grace and forgiveness and instead have embraced a life of sin as Paul describes. And Paul is right, they are going to hell because they rejected Jesus and did not become new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) or be transformed through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
So if Jesus died for the sins of the world and we don’t go to hell for sin but for rejecting Jesus why does sin still matter? Because without recognizing sin for what it is we both reject God’s sovereignty to determine what sin is and Jesus’ sacrificial and substitutional death on the cross to save us from these sins.
So how do we as Christians deal with all of this in today’s society? Do we acquiesce and claim much of what God calls sin is actually cultural and no longer applies to such an enlightened and tolerant people as we?
Unfortunately many so-called Christians are taking that route both individually and denominationally as they try to find as many loopholes to God’s commands as they can. This may sound harsh but I believe they have slipped down the slope on this one and are rejecting God’s sovereignty and Jesus’ death even though they would argue vehemently they are not.
For me and those who believe God’s word is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow the better approach is to stick to our doctrinal truths, including the one that tells us to share the Good News of Jesus’ death with every other sinner you can find so they understand that they are forgiven and can choose Jesus instead of eternal separation from a Father who loves them.