There is a three-letter word that spells the difference between happiness and misery, between freedom and bondage, and between heaven and hell. A generation or two ago, this word was commonly used in our speech, especially by the clergy. We used this word to describe wrongdoing and human failure. Then, as some words are prone to do, it gradually began to be replaced by synonyms which were more gentle and kind. That old three-letter word is sin, and in spite of the fact that most people prefer not to think of themselves as being tainted by this word, sin is good news! “And how can that be?” you might be thinking. It’s simple: There is a solution to the problem of sin, an antidote which neutralizes its effect; and that is good news.
The existence of sin is demonstrated three ways: First, by history. Then by the human conscience, and certainly by Scripture. Historian Harold Lindsell wrote, “As long as man has been on earth, wars, tumults, disease, and death have been rampant. All creation bears unmistakably the marks of evil. The pages of history are blackened by its effects.” Some 5,000 years of history display a constant repetition of human failure.
But the effects of history go beyond what takes place on a national basis to what takes place on a personal basis. We are told today that there is a difference between public and private morality—something which no generation has ever believed before; nonetheless, the mentality which wants to believe this is but a reflection of the thinking that it is unfair to hold others accountable for what we, ourselves, are not willing to abide by.
Your conscience is only as good as its understanding of right and wrong. When a person doesn’t know what a straight line is, it is difficult for him to understand why a crooked line is different. But, nonetheless, the consciences of almost all men and women, at some time or another, nag at them, saying, “What you did is wrong!” And when that wrongdoing violates others and God, it is sin—unvarnished and plain.
The Bible says that men and women are sinners by choice and by nature as well. “All have sinned” is the dictum of Paul to the Romans. We sin because of our human compulsion towards selfishness and wrongdoing as well as by our personal choices which, at times, we know are wrong—yet we prefer that to doing what we know to be right.
Suppose you went to your doctor because you had a lump on your thyroid and it just wouldn’t go away, and he ran some tests and then asked you to sit down as he said, “There’s nothing to worry about. Our tests show that you have a lymphoma, but this is perfectly natural. You have a beautiful smile and a wonderful personality. Think positively of yourself and realize you are much better off than most people.” If you heard what I’ve just told you, you would be fuming with anger. You’d probably break your fingers punching the buttons on your phone as you called your attorney.
But if your doctor says, “You have a problem here, but there is a solution, which is surgery followed by radiation. The answer isn’t terribly pleasant, but we can assure you that you are going to be OK” –then you have hope. The Good News about sin is not that you have failed but that God has an answer, a solution to your wrongdoing, and that solution is in what Jesus Christ did in paying the price of your failure.
No, sin never makes us feel good about ourselves, but it should bring us into confrontation with the grace of God, which can make us right with God. And that’s good news.
Resource Reading: Romans 6
Text: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – July 31, 2017