Sunday, April 27, 2008

What is sin?

It's easy for Christians to tell people, "All have sinned..." but telling someone he is a sinner without telling him what sin is would be like arresting him and not telling him what crime he's committed. Now, I'm not too inclined to go around telling people they are a sinner, but you know... writing this blog the subject's going to come up, so I might as well cover it.

The classic definition (the kind, by the way, that can be used in Sunday School to irritate your teacher) is "a willful transgression against the known will of God."

To begin to understand the "known will of God," a good place to start is the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:3-17)

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.

    The greatest sin is to love God's creation more than God Himself.

    Jesus stated this commandment in the positive form rather than the negative: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). Of course, to accomplish this successfully, one would have to keep God as the most important thing in their life from the moment of their birth. This in itself puts every one of us in violation of Law and in need of God's grace.

  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    This goes right along with number one; God wants to be the priority in your life. Of course, it turns out that if He's not everything goes down the pooper anyway.

  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

    Have you ever noticed that nobody ever hits their thumb with a hammer and shouts out, "Allah!" or "Buddah!" or any of those other names? That's because those names hold no power whatsoever.

  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

    We all take one day off each week from all of our work to dedicate the day to the Lord, right? Oh.

  5. Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

    Too many fathers reject their role as the spiritual leader in their household. I'm sure this topic alone could develop into more than I can handle.

  6. You shall not murder.

    Jesus said, "You have heard it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matthew 5:21-22) You see, murder starts with unforgiveness. It's pretty condemning if you think about it.

  7. You shall not commit adultery.

    Jesus complicated this one quite a bit. "You have heard it said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27) I don't know...seems like most of us are going to have a problem with that.

  8. You shall not steal.

    How many times do you have to steal before you become a thief? I don't know, but have you ever noticed how quickly pens walk away...?

  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

    Basically, do not lie. How many times do you have to lie to become a liar? How many of us haven't lied even once?

  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

    Coveting is essentially spiritual adultery; it is idolitry. It includes lust, greed, and pride. It is, essentially, putting something else ahead of God.

Well, that's a little heavy. But, fortunately, mercy triumps over justice. We need Christ because we have broken God's law.

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