Sin. Not a popular topic. I certainly do not enjoy talking about sin. Yet, I think sin needs to be taken seriously and not swept under the carpet. It is our sin that separates us from God, and Jesus came to deal with our sin. As Peter words it, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” (I Peter 3:18).
I was part of an evangelical denomination for awhile that claimed to take sin very seriously. In a certain way they did, as holy living was a prime focus of their teaching and doctrine. Encouraging Christians to live holy lives is certainly a good thing! Yet, they also taught that is was possible to reach a higher level of Christian life where you could go days, weeks, or months without committing any sin. Really?? Obviously I did not believe this even though I was a part of this group for years. I believe I sin everyday. Every single day. This type of admission or statement was not well received, and it would even be condemned from the pulpit, with an emphasis that one does NOT have to sin everyday “in thought, word, and deed.”
It comes down to how you define sin. A distinction was made between deliberate/willful sin and mistakes/unintentional sin. With this type of distinction, you can see how it might be possible to think you could go days, weeks, months without sinning. Yet, this seems a bit subjective. Is the line between deliberate and unintentional that clear cut? It seems very easy for pretense or rationalization to take place. “Oh, ya know, that was just an accident, not purposeful.” Hmmm.
I also don’t see an allowance for this in Scripture. Sin is sin. In Psalm 19:12, David asked God to forgive his hidden faults or accidental errors. If something is not really sin, we do not need forgiveness for it. It would seem that these hidden faults were sin. Romans 14:23 says that “whatever is not from faith is sin.” This certainly broadens the definition of sin. We could do the right thing, but if it is not from faith that would make it sin for us. Indeed, impure motives can lie behind good actions. I’d say that even our best actions are a blend of pure and impure motives. I also think of 1 john 1:8 which states that if we claim to have no sin “we deceive ourselves.”
It seems that we weaken the definition of sin by limiting it to only deliberate sin. Is that a good path to begin walking on? Are we really “taking sin seriously” if we are re-defining it and excusing certain behaviors as accidental? And doesn’t it put a unhealthy focus on self, as you decide what is sin or not sin in your life? Isn’t that actually the role of the Holy Spirit? And if you say you can go days, weeks, or months without sinning – that sounds like you are keeping record on a calendar. That seems a bit self-absorbed, doesn’t it?
AB Winchester said:
Jerome, in the fourth century, declared that ‘light views of sin induced false views of God’, and the late master preacher MacLaren of Manchester stated that ‘ninety percent of all doctrinal errors have grown up around defective views of sin.’ Any theory that minimizes sin minimizes the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ and the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit.
Why not just honestly admit that you sin everyday? We won’t be perfect until eternity. This doesn’t mean we can’t live a consistent Christian life in the here and now. We can live holy lives. Yet, holiness does not mean perfection, not yet at least. That waits until a future day when Christ returns and makes all things new. Admitting your proclivity to sin doesn’t make things hopeless. Rather, it should point you to your only hope: Jesus Christ and his atoning work for you on the cross. Maximize Christ. Be absorbed with Him and there lies your hope for holy living.