Sin is simply “to miss the mark.”
Sin is anything we do that is displeasing to God. We all miss the mark (that is, we all sin) at one time or another (Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:10). Sins are implicitly unfaithfulness and hostility towards God (Leviticus 26:40).
Our sin, which makes us unclean, separates us from God, who is holy and perfect. Jesus can reconcile or make us right with God, allowing us to approach God, despite our flawed living.
This was the purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth: to die in place of all of us for the wrong things we have done. In essence, he paid our fine and did our time, so we won’t have to.
It’s easy to accept this gift (it’s free) and start on a journey with Jesus. Jesus simply said, “Come, follow me,” (Mark 1:17).
Last week we talked about Moses’ mistake of hitting the rock instead of speaking to it. He did this in disobedience to what God told him to do. The Bible calls this sin.
As a result of Moses’ mistake, that is his sin, he was only permitted to see the land God promised to give to the people, but he could not enter into it. This is a great illustration of the idea of following all the rules but one and then not getting into heaven because we’re not good enough.
We can’t earn our way into heaven, because just one “oops” removes that chance. Fortunately, the way to heaven is much easier; it’s called faith.
[Deuteronomy 32:51-52, Deuteronomy 34:4, James 2:10, and Ephesians 2:8-9]
We live in a society of blame. People shun taking responsibility for their mistakes and shortcomings. Instead they blame someone else: “It’s how I was raised,” “He talked me into it,” “It’s her fault not mine,” “If only I had a better education,” “I had no choice,” and so forth.
In doing so, they fail to take responsibility for their own actions. They attempt to pass their error onto someone or something else and thereby avoid God’s censure for their sin.
In God’s perspective, that’s not how things work. Each person is responsible for the things he or she does. Through Moses, God said that each person would die for his or her sin, not the parents but them.
Fortunately, Jesus offers a different solution: Saving people from their sin.
[Deuteronomy 24:16 and Matthew 1:21]
In the accounts of Jesus’ life, there’s a curious exchange he has with the religious leaders. Although he has many such interactions, this is perhaps the most perplexing.
He tells them sick people don’t need a doctor. True. Then he makes a parallel assertion that his purpose isn’t to help good people (the “righteous”) but bad people (the “sinners”).
What does this mean?
1. Is he implying the religious leaders are healthy and in no need of his help, that they’re doing fine by adhering to their traditions? While it’s true that following their laws could be sufficient, they would need to do so perfectly. This is humanly impossible.
2. This could be a sarcastic statement, calling them good (righteous) when everyone — including themselves — knew it wasn’t true, that they fell short of God’s standard as well.
3. Jesus could have meant, that since the religious leaders considered themselves to be healthy, there was nothing he could do for them. Although they were really sick, he couldn’t be their doctor until they admitted they were ill.
We all need a doctor, but are we willing to admit it?
[Mark 2:17, Luke 5:31-32]
In Three Things About Sin, the prescription for sin is to deal with the temptation before it gives way to sin. It’s like getting a vaccine; preparing now to avoid a bigger problem later.
The Bible teaches us three things about temptation; they’re in the form of promises that we can claim and rely on.
1) Our temptations are not unique to us: Others have struggled with the same issues in the past.
2) God will limit temptation to what we can handle: God doesn’t tempt us and he does limit the enemy’s power to do so.
3) God will provide a way out: We can ask God to enable us to see the way out, give us the will to take it, and the strength to persevere.
And then we can withstand the temptation — just as he promised.
[1 Corinthians 10:13]
The book of Genesis in the Bible gives a concise three-point teaching about sin. This was written about Cain, but equally applies to us.
1) Sin is crouching at our door: The word “crouch” reminds me of a cat getting ready to pounce on its prey. The situation is ominous.
2) Sin desires to have us: Once the cat leaps for its quarry, there’s little doubt over the outcome. Sin is crouching for us; it is getting ready to leap and destroy us. There’s little we can do — or is there?
3) We must master it: Sin is much easier to master beforehand rather than in the midst of it. When it is crouching, the potential for sin is there, but it’s not actual sin; it’s temptation. We know what to do with temptation and the devil who promotes it; we are to resist.
[Genesis 4:7, James 4:7]
Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus came for the sick. (Since he came to heal and to save, we may be able to comprehend this both literally and figuratively, that is, the physically sick and the spiritually sick.) Jesus came for sinners — those who miss the mark.
Conversely, Jesus did not come for the healthy, the righteous. What exactly does that mean? Perhaps:
- People who are righteous (good and law-abiding) don’t need Jesus. (Is Jesus implying their path is through the Old Testament covenant and following the Law of Moses?)
- People who think they are on the right track will never know they need Jesus, so he is dismissing them.
- Everyone needs Jesus, but some people delude themselves, thinking they are the exception.
None of these ideas is an adequate explanation for me of what this text means. Although the first one seems heretical, it is also the most direct understanding of Jesus’ actual words. The other two responses require an interjection of ideas, some assumptions to be made — of basically reading the text through our own theological glasses.
Fortunately, I don’t need to understand this text completely. What I do know is I need a doctor — and his name is Jesus.
[Mark 2:17, Matthew 9:12-13, and Luke 5:31-32]
Even if you’ve not read the Bible, you have likely heard about Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities God destroyed for their extreme wickedness.
The account of this is found in Genesis, chapters 18 and 19. In this text, the sexual depravity of the men of Sodom is portrayed. Despite that, it does not explicitly say that their sexual predilections were the reason for their annihilation. Even so, most readers make that assumption.
However, the prophet Ezekiel does explain the reason that the people of Sodom were punished so severely. It’s not what you think. Are you ready for the real reason? Sodom was destroyed because they “they did not help the poor and needy.”
That puts the idea of “wickedness” in a completely different perspective — God’s.