In 1995 Newsweek magazine reported that teaching on sin had all but disappeared from many churches. They questioned how can people still identify with Adam and Eve these days? Yet, the articles points out that people still experience shame — loss of face — and that guilt requires much more such as a recognition of sin and the need to change one’s life. True evangelicals will agree that confession and repentance remains valid into the 21st century but only if Christ is at the center of one’s faith. A short insert from Newsweek:
But the aging baby boomers who are rushing back to church do not want to hear sermons that might rattle their self-esteem. And many clergy, who are competing in a buyer’s market, feel they cannot afford to alienate. To be sure, liberal ministers — and many a rabbi — routinely condemn such “systemic” social evils as racism, sexism and other updated permutations of the Mosaic Ten Commandments. But their voices are strangely muffled on subjects close to home — like divorce, pride, greed and overweening personal ambition.
Although sin leads to shame and guilt and necessitates the cross and forgiveness, that the gospel in liberal theology has had its message hallowed out and champions mostly social issues, will inevitably leave those in the pews to decide for themselves if they are good Christians, which not surprisingly most see themselves better than what Scriptures say about them.
Our tendency toward self-righteousness is plain when God’s law is applied to our lives. The Ten Commandments shows us what is right and wrong and to break any of these commands is to be guilty before God. God repeatedly reminds us in Scriptures about our sinful state and how far we are from meeting His standards. If you were to make a list of all the kinds of sins described in Scriptures, it would total over one hundred and twenty five, which can be catalogued under one or more of the commandments. Even so, to grasp the extensive nature of sin, we learn from 1 John 5:17 that “all wrongdoing is sin.” Furthermore, James tells us in 4:17 that “anyone, then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Individuals sin far more than they realize or wish to admit when our minds take in the teaching of Scripture. Yet, today a baneful denial exist in men’s hearts about personal sin which complicates matters on a twofold level: First, the universality to downplay sin leaves the hearer confused about the need for acceptance of the gospel And second, a shadow is cast over the Holy character of God. After all, if sin is not real what was the purpose for a Holy God to send His Son? It would be unnecessary and it would seem God had made a mistake. But that is not the case since sin made the cross indispensable. The cross meant that the sinner is not left alone to face the consequences of his sins on judgement day – if this is not the case then the sinner is not a recipient of Christ saving act and His divine righteousness is not credited to him so that he has not been made right before God – but if personal faith is placed in Christ saving work, the sinner is justified and granted the right to be forgiven and adopted into His family. If you are not concerned or prepared for this, do not think that anything in fallen humanity will help you. It is plain to see that the world is spiraling out of control each time we visit the news. But distressing news stories is not ours to control. The trouble we are speaking about is the kind we experience when we take sin lightly and leave God out of our lives. We have choices to make and if we decide not to take responsibility for our own sins we face the consequences and remain in our lost state with no hope of eternal life. But when the sinner goes to the cross for new life, a radical transformation in our lives begins to take shape. Our transgressions against God are forgiven and forgotten and Christ becomes our Savior. This can only come about when we trust Christ and confess our sins and repent of them.
For any who are seeking a check list to measure themselves against several are provided throughout Scriptures (Proverbs 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8). These lists are not exhaustive, but they do provide particular vices for us to see our own complicity to do evil; to remind us that we are not blameless and are guilty of having offended God on many fronts and in many ways. To offend God is a serious matter. Do not condescend to the attitude that it is no one’s business but our own to do as we please and that it should not become an issue. There is good reason to change your outlook about sin.
Ask yourself, if doing wrong is no one’s concern but your own, and if it can be overcome some other way, Christ’s death would then not be necessary, and therefore a great deal of pain and suffering could have been avoided. Right? But we soon find out that not a day goes by that we do not sin. John makes this point very clear “If we say that we do not sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins He is just and faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When self-will and rebellion asserts itself, a sense of “lostness” and “fear of God” along with “impending judgment” fades from our consciousness. Concern for our own souls lessens. From here onward it becomes progressively worse as shown in Romans 1:29-31. Here sin is tracked to its final outcome where it is given free rein to run its course. When sin is left to its own devices and continues unhampered, it leads to a state that is best described as “extreme wickedness” where every type of debauchery is carried out and encouraged and celebrated. Instead of regret, evil is approved and applauded (vv.32). God leaves the sinner to himself as an act of judgement when the sinner has fully abandoned God. One cannot help but be saddened by the increase of evil that we have experienced in our day. If you think this warning from Scripture remains theoretical reasoning or reserved for another period in history and has not happened yet, think about the sins of our nation as of late, the evil promoted through recent legislations, and you have good reason to reconsider. The Scriptures teach that those who perpetrate evil are fools and deserving of death (vv.32). Fools trust in their own wisdom and fail to discern truth from lies and good from evil and apart from seeking God’s wisdom, cannot do otherwise. Vanity and conceit make people think that they are wise, but their conceit has left them largely ignorant of reality.
The fact is that when man tries to avoid sin’s significance and its effects in life, it only compounds the problem. We find ourselves sliding deeper into chaos. Any attempt to rationalize sin out of existence, either nullifying or lessening its importance only shows man’s utter foolishness as he seeks to sidestep the truth about God and about man’s sinfulness. Typically man’s arrogance leads him to create his own philosophies about the universe and life’s purposes even though God has spoken clearly from the Scriptures about our origins and depraved state. Far better to consider men liars and God to be true than to accept the bizarre and chaotic that forms man’s understanding about himself and this universe. Man wishes to be autonomous and suppresses truth in his efforts to distance himself from God. It is in this darkness that the Christian is called to live on God’s terms — a defiantly normal life where the believer accepts responsibility for his sins and looks to Christ for continual forgiveness, strength and wisdom to resist being part of the absurd, destructive, and petulant ways of those who wish to avoid the light of God’s Truth. The Christian must be fiercely devoted in his stand. The Christian seeks to embrace truth about himself and about God, regardless if it is self-effacing or God Glorifying, or finds acceptance in this world or not, for it is far less injurious to be thought of as intolerant, narrow-minded and a bigot than to be considered a fool by God and spend eternity in hell.
Which will it be for you? Are you a sinner in need of salvation. Jesus said “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:13b) Will you admit to your sins and look to Christ for forgiveness and eternal life?