What is sin? Have you ever every truly thought about what God considers sin? There are many misconceptions as to what sin is, often because what is considered sin is heavily prejudiced by our upbringing, traditions and religious standards, rather than what sin is according to God. I believe that what we perceive as sin and how we deal sin, is heavily biased by our sociological, ethnocentric ideologies. Wow, that’s a mouthful, but don’t worry I’ll explain as we go.
A friend of mine, Pastor, Jerry Snider, says that sin is anything that separates you from Jesus. This a a big statement, with a broad meaning because what might be sin for you may not be sin for someone else. Now I understand that some of you may read this and ask how can sin be sin for me, but not somebody else? In truth, this statement is Biblical. Let’s look at a passage in Romans (yes I am aware the context pertains to food, but I believe that the same applies to everything).
13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
1 JOHN 5:17
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
This means that we might might have things in our lives we have overcome and do not struggle with, but for our brother it might be different. For instance we may be able to go to the beach and have a great time without falling into sin. Our brother might find himself falling into lust, chasing women and fornication; these things separate him from God. The beach itself is not bad, but the sin our brother has yet to overcome, is.
Notice that I use the word “overcome”. As Christians, saved by grace, we should not live under our sins, but overcome them through Jesus. Yes, this means we can and should overcome our issues, rather than living with legalisms and standards to avoid our sins, or else we will live bound in condemnation, without true freedom in Christ.
Just a real quick note, obviously this doesn’t apply to sins such as murder, sexual sins…etc. these are sins to us all. Another thing I should point out is that some may point out that universals sins would be the 10 Commandments, but we no longer keep the 4th commandment, keeping the sabbath day. We should actually remember the heart of what the sabbath was, which was to have a time for you and God. Jesus said the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath, it was supposed to be a blessing, not the curse it turned into through religious legalism (Mark 2:27–28).
1 JOHN 4:4
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
1 JOHN 5:4
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
With the law (I am referring to our justice system and Old Testament law) there are levels of crimes (sin), thus levels of punishment and atonement for different crimes (sins); we find this ideology in Catholicism. Through the law there are levels of atonement according to the crime (sin). The law seeks only to punish for breaking the law, and it doesn’t teach how to overcome sin, change the heart or offer correction. This means that the law doesn’t care if our hearts are changed, only that we do not break the law and if we do the atonement fits the crime. The issue with this Biblically is that if we do not change our hearts and thinking, then we are still guilty of sin, even if we keep the law; Jesus discusses this in Matthew 5.
God seeks a relationship with us, to save us from ourselves by correcting our sins, rather than punishing us for them. We are corrected for our sins through the Holy Spirit, so that we may live a life that overcomes sin, with a changed mind, and a new heart for good things.
With God, all sin is the same and there is no difference between sins, for it all separates us from Him. God does not require different levels of atonement for our sins, He provided Jesus as our savior, who atoned for all of our sins. By grace, sin is sin, and thus there is but one solution; Jesus Christ. Our atonement / justification comes through Jesus for all sins and there is no distinction for levels of sin or persons because we are all sinners; there aren’t levels of sinners, just sinners.
10…”None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
As Christian who understand that it’s only by the grace of Jesus that we are saved, we should live humbly, and not judge others because we are all imperfect sinners. Going to church every Sunday does not lift us up over somebody who doesn’t attend because living for Jesus is not about puffing one’s self up against another; that is then sin of pride. We should never think ourselves more highly than another, or think we are more righteous than our brothers, thinking that our sins are foolishly less than theirs; all sins are sins and none are righteous.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
1 JOHN 1:8-10
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
As Christians we should help and love one another through adversity and sins. Glory should always be in Jesus and not ourselves, for He is the reason we have life, redemption and hope.