The “S” Word

We don’t talk about sin anymore, or at least not much and rarely outside the doors of a church. The concept rankles our society—steeped as it is in the belief that Mankind is basically good.

Christians, while giving intellectual ascent to the problem of sin, live very much like everyone else. We say things like “an innocent child” and “he didn’t deserve to die,” as if sin didn’t somehow pollute babies and death wasn’t the end result of sin as God said it would be.

Occasionally I catch one of those “reality” TV programs called “Super Nanny.” The premise is, a family with out-of-control kids contacts the show asking for help. In essence, they need a crash course in child rearing. And truly, the families they show are in crisis. In the worst cases, the children are in charge completely. The thing is, these little ones are often of pre-school age. How does this happen unless children have innate pride and selfishness and greed and deception and rebellion?

This morning I heard an Alistair Begg radio sermon from the book of Proverbs about child rearing. Interestingly, he said the chief problem for today’s parents is their theology. They don’t realize that the oh-so-cute little bundle they brought home from the hospital is a monster. He’s right. How we discipline someone who is good would be vastly different from how we would discipline someone who is inherently sinful.

Truthfully, our belief in sin is as fundamental as our belief in God because it is sin that separates us from Him. If we have no sin problem, then God seems irrational or mean or non-existent. I just finished reading Philip Yancy’s Disappointment with God, which I’ve mentioned here a time or two. The stories he tells of people disappointed with God, who think He is hidden or silent, now make sense to me.

The fact is, God remains inaccessible to us because of sin. It mars us, soiling us to the point that we cannot have fellowship with Him. Sin creates an breach between us and Him. A breach no one can cross except the Sinless One.

Again, in contrast to popular thought, Christ did not come to show us the way to also live sinless lives. He came because we cannot live sinless lives. He came to give us new life, to create clean hearts, to eradicate our sin problem.

So no wonder the world doesn’t get Jesus. If there is no sinful man, only good people led astray by society or damaged at an early age, then why would anyone need Jesus? And how could he expect to know God?

Published in: on May 29, 2008 at 9:34 am  Comments (8)  
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8 Comments

  1. Wow. Of all of Calvin’s teachings, the doctrine of the total, inherited depravity of man is perhaps the most destructive and despairing. Sin, the practice of lawlessness, is a choice, not a part of our nature. (Isaiah 7:15) Several OT scriptures reveal that our cognizance of that choice begins during our “youth”, not at birth. (Gen 8:21; Jeremiah 3:25)

    Jesus clearly taught that little children are not corrupt sinners. In fact, he used them as examples for those who wished to enter the kingdom. (Matt 18:1-3; 19:14) Sin requires knowledge of the law, of what is good. (Romans 7:7-9; James 4:17) How can a baby/child be guilty of sin when they lack that knowledge?

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  2. Isaiah 7:15 does not demonstrate your point. Jesus was not tainted by sinful blood. His Blood is holy, heavenly dispatched. You’re talking about the cognizance/accountability factor of sinful behavior. Becky is talking about the sin factor being in our blood, passed through generations of mankind descending from the sinful Adam. It’s our nature to sin.
    Jesus spoke of the “faith” of a child, the inherent ability to believe before their belief system is corrupted by the cares of this world. Our nature is not “good” but inherently evil because of sin. God is able to judge the accountability factor, but you cannot doubt when some people testify that they got “saved” at the age of three because they knew/understood they had sinned. Some children are very astute in recognizing sinful behavior both in themselves and others. And, yes, of course, it varies.
    Your Gen.8:21 scripture further proves the point that our hearts are evil. (Romans 5:18-19, “man” setting the course for mankind)
    If you cannot accept that we are encased in a body/nature of sin, then why would we need a Savior? Sin is not acquired–it is “natural” for us.

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  3. I don’t know what taint you are talking about. That is not a biblical teaching. We do not inherit sin. (Deut 24:16; Ezek 18:19-20) Granted, Christ had his divinity, which made it possible for him to obey the law perfectly where the man could not, but that does not change the fact that it is by choice that we sin, not by some innate part of our being. We were fashioned after the likeness of God. He created our spirits. Did He create something corrupt?

    Adam and Eve’s sin changed their relationship with God and their location (the garden of Eden) but it did not change who they were, their nature. They were the same as when God created them.

    Again, Gen 8:21 qualifies that the evil in man’s heart began when they were youths, not at birth. Romans 5:18-19 does not teach that Adam’s sin caused all future generations to be sinful, but that the consequence of that sin would impact all of man. Because of Adam, we will all die, but because of Christ we can all be regain eternal life. Otherwise, it would contradict the teachings in Deut and Ezekiel, and I certainly hope you aren’t arguing that the Bible (or God) contradicts itself.

    We need a Savior because we choose to give in to the temptations of our flesh. But the flesh is not sin (our misuse of it is), nor is it our “nature”.

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  4. =0) Glad to see you’re still stirring things up here, Becky.

    Kameron, on the day they ate of the fruit they died. God told them they would and they did. They died spiritually. And then they begat chldren after their own kind just as all the animals begat offspring after their kind.

    Psalm 51:5-6, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”

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  5. Look, I’m not going to get into a big theological argument with you. I think you’re wrong. It is our nature to sin. No, God did not create us as a corrupt being. We became a corrupted being when we disobeyed Him. What do you think the curse means? Why is it that if it’s simply a choice not to sin, why do we choose not to sin once we, according to you, get old enough to determine what sin is? Why has no human being ever been sinless?

    “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” Romans 7:17; “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:25

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  6. Hi, Becky

    I’m going to be the goof who takes the least topical thread from your post and posts something outside the discussion. 😉

    You mentioned Yancey’s book, Disappointment with God. Have you Reaching For the Invisible God? I started underlining quotes as I began to read it, but gave up b/c there were so many memorable quotes I couldn’t gain any momentum. I’m going to read it a second time to take notes. GREAT book.

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  7. Kameron, as I think you’ll be able to tell from today’s post, I do not ascribe to Calvinism. (A Calvinist friend of mine actually laughed when she read that part of your comment.)

    I’ll have more to say on this whole issue of sin because I do think it’s a critical point and I do think the Bible has much to say about it. But from a purely logical standpoint, if no one is sin free (Romans 3), from your view, then everyone chooses against God. What are the chances of that happening unless there was some agent at work directing our choices? I can tell you, I’ve never seen any choice come out 100% against in any other scenario.

    Becky

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  8. Nicole, Sally, thanks for your comments. As I mentioned to Kameron, I’ll have more to say on the sin subject later.

    And Wayne, I appreciate your comment, too. I should mention that Yancy comes through in the end of Disappointment with God. He doesn’t ever really say that God is disappointing. Just that man might be disappointed because God is silent or unfair. What he doesn’t say is, Man is wrong to think God is silent or unfair and should be on his face repenting as Job did at the end of his book.

    Yancy writes in such a clear, engaging style. I have no doubt Reaching For the Invisible God is an excellent book.

    I really am not trying to pick on Yancy and I’m actually glad I re-read (and read to the end) DWG. However, I do think the popular” God is big enough to take my angry tirades” attitude did start with him. And I don’t think we’re better for it.

    I was reading in Acts about Paul and Silas being beaten and thrown in jail. And singing praises. I couldn’t help think, the American Christian response would probably be to shake a fist at God and say, What are You doing? Don’t You know I’m serving You, witnessing for You? And THIS is what I get? Jail? A beating? How could you? Where are you?

    Where is contentment and trust and joy in our Savior, no matter what is happening to these outer shells?

    We’ve lost something in our culture because we think we are entitled before God.

    As I see it, it’s we who have lost sight of God, not He who has become invisible, or silent.

    Becky

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