Our vocabulary changes from time to time. We gain some “new” words/idioms and lose some along the way. When I was a teenager, there were words we didn’t speak in front of our parents or adults. Were we afraid they did not know? I recall a cartoon in which a worried-looking father said to his son, “It’s time we had a talk about sex!” The son responded, “Sure, Dad, what would you like to know?”
Times have changed. When Bill Clinton was in the White House, the reporters made sure that all of us understood what oral sex was all about. I’ve asked myself, what ever happened to sin? Have you noticed that word rarely appears today? Maybe we should redefine what we mean by sin. I read the words of Romans, chapter 3 and was reminded that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” No matter how hard we try to change it, that word confronts us.
We can redefine and change the word. In fact, we do. We acknowledge our errors, our mistakes, our failures, our lack of judgment, and our trespasses! But we dare not admit that we have sinned. Yet we pray “forgive our trespasses…(a softer word than sin?)
Now that we are here, let’s see what the Bible actually says; to sin is to fall short of the glory of God! That is more than behavior — our sins! It is an attitude that allows me to ignore the standards by which God measures sin. The beloved disciple John said that when Jesus lived on earth, they saw His glory — that like God’s glory!
A similar experience occurred when Moses came down from the Mount Sinai experience with the stone tablets on which the ten commandments were written. His face shone from that encounter with God! Abraham was called the friend of God. Jacob wrestled with God during the night. Peter made a seminal confession of faith which Jesus praised. Yet ALL of these humans sinned. Jesus was tempted in all the ways we are but without sin. They fell short of the glory of God!
If sin is only a behavior, then we can try to compare our behavior to other human beings — and make our excuses. If sin is an attitude about God, we all are guilty! Sin is the failure to be as righteous as Jesus was!
Since sin got Satan kicked out of heaven, and Adam and Eve banished from the garden, it carries significant consequences. Our attitudes, behavior and consequences comprise the evil we call sin. It separates us from God. So what can we do about this?
We can’t ignore it. We can’t condone it. We can’t deny it. Nor can we hide it from God. The only way to deal with this problem is through Divine forgiveness.
That’s the good news the Bible introduces — that Jesus died to forgive sinners. We seek God because we are sinners; God seeks us because we need a Savior!
Paul, who often proclaimed lofty theological truth in his writing, made his simplest declaration about Christ and our sins. He writes: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not holding our sins against us...For He made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (II Corinthians 5:19-21)
So, what happened to sin? The words of an old hymn sum it up: “Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.” This is the matchless story of grace. “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” The way home for the wandering sinner is to admit my fault, to confess my guilt, to be cleansed of my sins, and to receive the marvelous gift of forgiveness.
The declaration is “All have sinned.” The decision is “Forgive me. I have sinned!” The discovery is “My sin has been washed away.”
A lad came home from Sunday School to tell his father that he had asked Jesus to forgive his sins. “What is he going to do with your sins?” The incredulous father asked. “My teacher said he would put them behind his back.” The father said, “What if God turns around?” The boy was puzzled for a moment, but then responded, “I guess his back will still be behind him, Daddy.”
When God forgives our sins, He also forgets them!