Sin is just something we don’t like to talk about. It may be because it drums up old feelings of guilt and shame. Or it may be because it feels legalistic. Whatever the case, we typically try to avoid sin in our devotions and small groups. But doing so has a detrimental effect on our faith. It is imperative we have a proper theology of sin in order to understand and cherish the fullness of the Christian faith. While I am not going to lay out what that proper theology of sin looks like, (maybe a future blog post?), I do want to lay before you all two major reasons why we need to dive deeply into the theology of sin.
First, a good theology of sin exalts God and the sacrifice Christ made for us. When we understand how ugly sin is we get to see how glorious God is. 1 John 1:5 says “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Psalm 96:9 proclaims, “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” A good understanding of our sin helps us see that God is the complete opposite. When I try to understand God’s holiness apart from my sin, it can seem abstract or just a nice verse in a song. But when I look at the evil in my life and the world and recognize that God is completely void of all of this evil, I am better able to grasp His infinite holiness and appreciate and praise Him for it.
We also better appreciate the cross of Christ when we understand our sin. When we minimize or neglect to consider how heinous our sin is before a holy God, we diminish the sacrifice of Christ. If my sin really isn’t a big deal, then was the cross really that important? Hebrews 10:10 tells us, “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” When I think over my sins and understand what sin really is, I have a greater appreciation for all that Christ did for me at Calvary.
Having a proper understanding of our sin is vital to seeing the incredible holiness of God and appreciating the amazing sacrifice of Christ on the cross. But our understanding of sin also has a practical, daily life effect. When we grasp a deeper understanding of what sin is, we remain humble, dependent and continually desirous of sanctification.
We remain humble by remembering what our lives of unchecked sin looked like before Christ saved us: “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:11-13).
We remain dependent by realizing there is nothing we could have done, can do or could ever do to set us free from our bondage to sin: “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23).
And we avoid the common trap of complacency by realizing our lives still are stained with sin and we need the Holy Spirit’s help in growing in holiness even now: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9).
If sin is a topic you try to avoid, my hope and prayer is that you would actively takes steps to deepen your knowledge of what sin really is. We cannot simply just consider the overt sins in our lives. Nor can we simply compare our moral accomplishments to others around us. We need to take seriously our theology of sin because of the vertical and horizontal effects it has. May we desire to better understand what sin is, not because it is an enjoyable task, but because it leads us into a deeper experience and fulfillment of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.