I have been known to drive fast. I am no race car driver, but there are certainly times when I have pretended to be. You would think I’d learn my lesson after a speeding ticket or two. While speeding I usually do not think about violating a well-posted law. I tell myself, “I am in a hurry. I need to get there quickly. I have a lead foot. My car drives better faster. I am not being dangerous.” Pretty soon I am thinking stop signs and slow people are a nuisance.
Last year, I rolled through a stop sign in my neighborhood [only a block away from our church] and got pulled over by a police officer in the church parking lot before a Sunday service. At first, I was annoyed that he had to be in the area, “Now, I am going to be really late! How embarrassing. Everyone is looking at Pastor Justin in the church parking lot.” So I give the police officer a list of excuses to hopefully get off easily and quickly. I pay the fine and don’t feel all that bad about it, just angry with the cop for his insensitivity to my standard of what I think the laws and limits should be.
This is a true story and I share it to illustrate an important point: not honoring the limits or standards given to us is—sin. Like the cop, we do this to God, “God, why do you asked me to obey these impossible standards? You’ve got to be kidding me? I don’t think it’s that bad to stretch the rule just this once.” Then when we get caught we get angry with God like I was towards the police officer, “God you are unfair and unreasonable.” In reality, I have disobeyed a law that was meant to protect me and help me live in a way that pleases God, and He was being good and just.
What is Sin?
Sin by definition is when God says “No,” and I say, “Yes, I will,” or when He says, “Yes,” and I say, “No, I won’t.” Sin is living in unrighteous and deliberate disobedience towards God. When I sin I am rebelling against the authority of God, living like there is no law.
Sin starts in Genesis. Satan, who thought he was better than God got kicked out of heaven, but put on a leash. He roams the earth making it his aim to tempt created man into disobeying God too. He is crafty, sly and very successful. Satan knows how to tempt you through lies that make you think you are smarter than God [cf. Genesis 2-3]. It did not take long for man listen to the other voices and disobey God’s Voice. It was not Satan’s fault man fell into sin, since Adam and Eve were ultimately responsible; they listened and ate the forbidden fruit.
If we back up in Genesis we see that God created man to be His image bearer living under His righteous rule [Genesis 1:26-28]. He created man perfect and “very good.” [Genesis 1:31] In the beginning there was no sin, which means there was no need for police officers, security guards, door locks, burglary alarms, mace, sex offender registries, or judges. It is when man walked out from under the protection of God that the chaos caused by sin entered the world.
We often have a weenie view of sin. We think of sin as a no-no, oopsy-daisy, or boo-boo. The Bible gives us a cringing catalog of synonyms for sin: unrighteousness, godlessness, lawlessness, selfishness, blindness, deafness, rebellion, fallen, treason, transgression, perversion, missing the mark, vomit licking dog, idolatry, spiritual adultery [whore/prostitute], stiff necked, darkened, wicked, unreasonable, hard hearted, prideful, dead, and more. We discover in the Bible that man is totally depraved, in other words, sin has corrupted every part of man. Could this really be me?
Are you a sinful rebel?
Clearly, yes, all have sinned [Romans 3:10-23]. Through Adam’s sin all are born with a bent towards sin [Romans 5:12-21]. Adam and Eve are not to blame for all sin problems because you and I are just as cowardly. Without God you do nothing but sin. You do not take responsibility for your sin, “All we like sheep, have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way.” [Isaiah 53:6] You openly offend God and enjoy rebellion. You are a deplorable rebel to the core and live despicably.
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions then you have the heart of a sinful rebel [cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-5]: Do you only obey in part not in whole? Do you a blame shifter or excuse maker? Are you a man-pleasers more than a God pleaser? Do you think you are good compared to others? Do you enjoy playing god? Are other rebels attracted to you? Are you jealous of others? Do you crave control? Do you major on minors? Do you kill people with words? Do you ignore the need for permission and do it anyway? Are you not willing to confess you are wrong? Are you suicidal?
Compared to our neighbors, co-workers, friends, or local criminals you might not appear as evil, but when you compare yourselves with God you see that you are quite sinful. Don’t compare yourself with others; compare yourself with God. When you follow the footstep of Jesus in the gospels you see you are a sinner. He is the standard by which you will be judged. You will not be able to stand before heavens gates and say, “Ernie, was worse than me. Come on, let me in.”
Do you have a sinful view of sin?
Comparing yourself with others is a sinful view of sin. There are many sinful views of sin. Sin is by its nature is deceitful [1 John 1:8]. Here are the top 10 sinful views of sin: [adapted from: Sinful Responses to Sin, Mark Driscoll]
- “I’m Sorry! I promise to do better next time. God will understand.” A broken relationship can’t be mended by a simple apology. “I’m Sorry” is cheap; forgiveness is a willingness to change.
- “It doesn’t matter how I live because I am forgiven.” Do you presume upon God’s grace? “Do I sin that grace may abound?” Certainly not!” [Romans 6:1-2] Did Jesus die that you should keep sinning? Sin means you hate Jesus. When a person keeps on sinning habitually we can ask, “Are they truly forgiven?”
- “Nobody’s perfect!” Minimizing sin doesn’t make it go away. Sometimes we cover up our responsibility in dealing with sin by pulling out the divine trump card, “I am just a human. Everybody sins.” This is lame.
- “If I don’t confess every one of my sins I am not forgiven.” We know from the Bible that Jesus died for all of your sins past, present, future [1 Peter 3:18; Colossians 2:13; 1 John 1:9]. We don’t have to sit around and wonder, “Is there any sin I forgot to mention to God?”
- “God knows my heart.” Yes, He does. He says, “The heart is deceitful” [Jeremiah 17:9] and “out the heart comes evil.” [Matthew 15:18-20]
- “Can’t I have a little fun?” Sin is not fun—for long. It is not fun because when I sin if I have the Spirit I am convicted and feel guilty. [“By Faith Moses refused…fleeting pleasure of sin” Hebrews 11:25] Sin gives a promise that is not true nor will completely satisfy. Sin is hallow—you try more, newer, harder, riskier things to fill the hollowness, but it never fills.
- “It is not a sin unless someone gets hurt.” It always hurts. It hurts you and others around you. Pornography and lust hurts your mind and intimate relationships. Gossip and bullying hurt your reputation and other around you. Sin hurts you and everyone involved.
- “It is not sin unless you get caught.” God knows [cf. Psalm 139].
- “If our culture says it’s okay then it’s not a sin.” Culture or history does not determine what is right or wrong. Only God determines what is sinful. Do not measure your goodness by the way of society, but by the Word of God. God did not give the Israelites an excuse to sin amidst the wicked nations that surrounded them [1 Pt. 2:9].
- “Christians say everything is a sin.” Never go to movies, listen to bad music, drink or chew or go with girls that do. The Bible calls this spiritual maturity. The Bible does say that what we put into our mind does affect our heart. If I play with pigs I will get dirty. “Not everything is sin, but not everything is permissible” [1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23]. We need to discover if it is a matter of conviction, personality, preference, or affecting a younger believer to compromise his faithfulness.
How does God respond to sin?
First, God judges sin. When we sin God does not slap us on the hand and say, “Please, stop that.” Sin has serious consequences—life and death consequences. If He did not He would not be good or just. In God, are combined the perfect legislator, the perfect prosecutor, and the perfect crime victim, which means that God’s wrath and indignation will always be utterly just, because they will be in perfect proportion to the heinousness of sin.
I remember the words of the police officer that pulled me over in the church parking lot. “Rolling through the stop sign might have been harmless today, but let it be a reminder to you that the next time it could be more harmful. It is better to pay a fine now than having to deal with the guilt of killing someone from lack of responsibility.” If the police officer did not pull me over that day he would not be a good or just cop.
Second, God gives grace [James 4:4-10; Ephesians 2:8-10]. He like a loving father in that when He disciples us He shows us his loving grace. Third, in His grace God sends Jesus. God’s grace is seen in Him sending Jesus to save and change sinners. When He came He lived sinlessly even when tempted [Hebrews 4:15]. Therefore, Jesus became the righteous sacrifice to appease the wrath of God upon sin. And finally, in His grace Christ is coming back [John 14:3, 28]. God is sovereign over evil. Jesus is coming back to deal with sin once and for all and restore righteousness in His kingdom.
How must I respond to sin?
I must respond by repenting of my sin and begin living righteously for God’s glory. Let us be like David, “I have sinned against the Lord,” [2 Samuel 12:13] or Isaiah, “I am a man of unclean lips.” [Isaiah 6:5] By repenting, I own up to my sin and inability to do what is right without God’s help. Repentance is a gift and love of God through Christ, “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” [Mark 1:14-15]
Sin is serious. It is living in unrighteous and deliberate disobedience towards God. Sinful rebellion has serious consequences. God is not messing around when it comes to sin. God is good and just as a judge, therefore, trust and obey. Let us bow our knees to the King and decide to follow Him wholly and completely today. For as Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones said,
“There is in us, in man, this terrible, mighty power called ‘sin’ which alienates us from God and leads us to hate Him, and at the same time debases us and leads us to conduct which can only be described as disgusting. How idle it is to think of these matters and to discuss them theoretically. How criminal to look at life through rose-coloured spectacles. It is only as we face the facts, and realize the true nature of the problem, that we shall come to see that the one power alone is sufficient and adequate to deal with it—the power of God.”
Here is a sampling of the many verses on sin: 1 John 3:4; 5:17; James 4:17; Romans 1:18; 6:23; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:18-19; Colossians 3:5-9; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Isaiah 6; 2 Peter 2:2; 1 Samuel 15:23; Psalm 106:39; Acts 17:51
 David Clotfelter, Sinners in the Hands of a Good God. Moody Publishers, Chicago. 2004.45-46.
 Martin Lloyd-Jones, The Plight of Man and the Power of God. Christians Focus Publishing, Great Britain. 2010. 71-72.