Whatever Happened to Sin?

I remember as a young man listening to missionary pioneer Colin Tilsley singing in a duet. The words of the refrain were “Why must I die, why must I die I can hear the people cry”. I was profoundly moved and felt the weight of people’s need of Jesus.  

People need the Lord!  It was then I became aware of the millions of lost souls in our world!

What does it mean to be lost? The Bible suggests that because of sin people are lost relationally. From creation, God’s desire was for relationship with people.  Genesis 1 v 26 to 27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”. This distinction, “in God’s image” included our ability to communicate, our personality, the ability to know truth, wisdom and holiness. This relationship gave us the capacity for spiritual communion with God, to love and to serve.

As a recipient of God’s saving grace we experience how good God’s original intention for relationship was and how lost we once were without this relationship.

Relationship’s disruption is identified in Romans 3 v 23 which tells us, “For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God“. Clearly our relationship with God was disrupted by sin! Sin is possibly the most unpopular word in western society, resulting in many preachers avoiding its use!  Why is this? Perhaps it’s because the application of the word sin suggests error, fault and wrong doing and as such it is a word that uncomfortably demands self-examination by each individual. The reality is all sin is a violation of some type of relationship and every device of Satan is aimed at breaking relationships, producing alienation and isolation first with God and then with our communities. Whether the word sin is used or not, sin is felt by all. Mankind are not only sinners by nature; they are also sinners by practice. They all fall short, in themselves, from the Glory of God.

As I honestly reflect on my personal battles with sin, I find relationships are always the first victim of my sin. Our sin impacts all our relationships and all sin destroys God’s gift of relationship with him!  

The good news is the recognition of our sin fast tracks us towards God’s grace and renewed relationship. Romans 5 v 8 describes how God deals with sin.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Out of sheer generosity Jesus puts us in right standing with himself. It’s a pure gift. He got us out of the mess we were in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be.  How did he do this? The answer is found in John 16 v 8.  God sends his Holy Spirit “to convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement”. 

We must remember it is Satan who uses sin as an accusation, not God!  A key to the message of mission is not to use sin as an accusation but rather as a realisation that results in those who are lost in their relationship seeing their need of Jesus and embracing God’s grace through repentance and faith.

So let us openly testify to reality of sin, its deception, bankruptcy and sin’s breaking of relationship with God. Only then will the accepting of the good news of Jesus be able to free the lost from their sin. People need Jesus who has conquered sin and death. Paradoxically we must share the bad news of sin so that people can grasp the good news!

Then watch what God will do!

Murray Stevenson