There is some debate in my church about the nature of sin. Could you share with us a biblical perspective on the topic?
Published on: 09-29-2021
For our purpose, sin is the ethical, moral, mental, and spiritual decomposition of the human being, originally created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). Decomposition is about being involved in a process of spiritual putrefaction that upon progression results in the disintegration of God’s good creation. This process leaves behind spiritual and moral fetidness that is repulsive to the Lord. This concept of sin, understood as the dissolution of our inner being and our wholeness, helps us to realize that it is already active within us and that it is much more than a thought or an action.
1. SIN AS REBELLION, ENSLAVEMENT, AND ALIENATION
Sin is indeed an enslaving power (Rom. 6:17), one that we have voluntarily embraced in an act of rebellion against God (Gen. 3:1-7). In its original manifestation, sin was an incomprehensible act of rebellion against the good Creator, but it immediately became a permanent, disrupting, and destructive inner attitude expressing itself in all sorts of evil thoughts, words, and actions. To be a sinner is to be characterized—indeed, defined—by a state of inner conflict against God, others, and self (Rom. 8:7; 7:23; James 4:4). If sin is a state of rebellion against God, then it is also a state of alienation from Him (Gen. 3:8), the very source of life, and sinners are in fact heading inexorably to extinction. Rebellion creates distance, separation, and it implies independence (Eph. 2:12). Death, the decomposition we mentioned above, is almost by definition separation in a condition of animosity against God. Such alienation shows itself in sinful behavior.
2. SIN AS BEHAVIOR
Most of the time we conceive of sin as a serious behavioral problem, and this is correct. In fact, the Bible states that sin is a violation of the law (1 John 3:4). The Bible emphasizes wicked behavior in its portrait of sin because actions reveal the inner condition of the human being. They are the objective evidence of the state of the human heart as the corrupted center of existence. Jesus stated it in univocal terms: “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (Mark 7:21, 22, NIV). There is something deeply wrong with humans; there is rottenness at the very core of our existence. An understanding of sin as a behavioral problem is hardly adequate to reveal the deep darkness of the human predicament. A limited understanding of the human condition leads to a limited comprehension of the costliness of the sacrificial death of the Son of God.
3. RESOLUTION OF THE SIN PROBLEM
The final solution to the problem of sin is not behavioral modification, even if it occurs through the power of the Spirit, but death. Christ died a most awful death, separated from the Father (Matt. 27:46). The corrupted human nature is not to be patched up, but to be destroyed. It was executed on the cross of Christ! What He required was nothing less than a new birth (John 3:5), a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), brought into existence through the power of His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:44, 45). For now, we struggle in a world of sin, but at the coming of Christ our sinful human nature will be removed, and we will be dressed with incorruptibility (verses 52, 53).