The “S” Word

Western culture doesn’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.

From time to time I used to watch one of those “reality” TV programs called “Super Nanny.” The premise was, a family with out-of-control kids contacted the show asking for help. In essence, they needed a crash course in child rearing. And truly, the families they that went on the show were in crisis. In the worst cases, the children were completely in charge. Sadly, some of these little ones were pre-school age–four and under. And yet they would fight each other and often hit and scratch and curse at their parent. How does this happen unless children have innate pride and selfishness and greed and deception and rebellion?

Some time ago Alistair Begg aired a 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–who is determined to please himself, promote himself, and control everyone else.

Truthfully, our belief in sin is as fundamental as our belief in God because it is sin that separates us from Him.

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short
That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)

If we have no sin problem, then God would seem irrational or mean or non-existent. But 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 a 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 how to live sinless lives like His. 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? We’d need a better social structure, more equitable laws. But God? Belief in Him is divisive and what we want is a society that fosters peace and harmony. Better if belief in God goes the way of belief in sin.

Except, wishing sin didn’t exist, pretending God doesn’t exist, will not change reality. Man is sinful and in need of God alone who can save us.

This article originally appeared here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction in June 2008.

Published in: on June 7, 2012 at 6:28 pm  Comments (5)  
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  1. Good, solid reminders. As a teacher who’s worked with kids of all ages, I can say that anyone who thinks children are without since has never actually had to teach children how to behave. Some many be more outwardly compliant than others, but without Jesus, even the best behavior is toward selfish ends. I had a very competitive class get almost violent in their efforts to outdo each other–in being humble! All because they thought it would get them special treatment. Amazing how we all can twist the idea of “being good” because, apart from Christ, there is truly no good thing in us!


  2. Why do you think the Church in general ignores this Reality? I have been in services where “wretch” in the song Amazing Grace has been changed to “soul” or “child”. This WRETCH was amazed and grieved by the substitution!


  3. Janeen, I was a teacher for years, too. You are absolutely right. No matter how good the home, how talented the child, how passive or compliant or popular or attractive or intelligent, the sin nature inevitably rears its ugly head. Why else do we say euphemistically, “Nobody’s perfect”? We know it’s true. And yet society still buys into the notion that the kids are fine, born as blank slates, at worst. It’s the rest of us (we were also born with good natures) who mess up the newborns. What? That is so lacking in logic, and yet that’s what people cling to.

    How could society become corrupt unless the people in it are? It’s such an obvious point.



  4. Ugh! I hate when they change “wretch” too. I’ve heard it “someone like me.” But honestly, it’s been a while. I think that one became popular in the culture at large and “wretch” was scrubbed to make it more culturally acceptable. But, wow, we in the Church should know better.

    But the true is, the idea that we are sinners has become offensive. We make mistakes, are wounded. But sinners deserving of God’s judgment?

    I understand how hard it is to face the truth, but it’s kind of like having cancer and remaining in denial instead of turning to the doctor for diagnosis and treatment. To deal with cancer we have to admit we have cancer.



  5. […] week I posted about a topic we dislike–sin, ending with this line: “Man is sinful and in need of God alone who can save […]


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