What Sin?

Today’s post is a bit longer than what I normally post. You’ll probably need about 10 minutes to be able to read it thoroughly.

In the blog this week, I’ve been explaining why Jesus is the only way of salvation. On Monday, I showed that the overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that Jesus Christ alone can give us eternal life, salvation and the hope of heaven as our home. While this demonstrated this truth, it still didn’t explain why. Yesterday we saw that when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden it had lasting consequences for all people born after them. Their sin caused every human to be born spiritually dead, separated from God and resistant to the rule of God. This resulted in all of us taking actions that God calls sin.

The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). The Bible also says that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). But what if I don’t feel as though I’ve sinned? What if I feel that I’m basically a good person that doesn’t deserve the death of a sinner? Those who feel this way, do so because they don’t understand sin and God’s standard for righteousness. In order to understand God’s standard for righteous, we need to identify what sin is.

Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law.” 1 John 3:4 (HCSB)

The basic idea of sin is that sin is breaking God’s Law. As it is meant here, God’s Law basically refers to the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments make up God’s standard to determine whether someone is guilty of sin. In order to understand that we have sinned against God and are guilty in His sight, we need to see how we’ve sinned by breaking His Law. As you look at the Ten Commandments, keep in mind that the standard is to keep the Law perfectly. This means that before we can be considered to be innocent, we have to have kept each commandment perfectly from the time we were born until the time that we die. Even one “small” infraction of any commandment makes us guilty.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3 NKJV) To have perfectly obeyed this Law you would have to have had God as the supreme object of your love, devotion and service. You would have to have done this every moment of every day of your life. This couldn’t be in words only. It would have to be in your speech, your attitude and your actions.

You shall not make for yourself a carved image…” (Exodus 20:4 NKJV) This is essentially a command about worshipping the right God in the right way. To have perfectly obeyed this Law you would have to have kept yourself from worshipping, or being devoted to, the false gods of self, money, sex, pleasure, wealth and possessions or any other idol that can be made on this earth. You would have to have done this every moment of every day of your life.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…”(Exodus 20:7 NKJV) This is a command against misusing His name in any way. To have perfectly obeyed this Law you must have kept yourself from using His name as a curse word, using His name in a flippant or insincere way or doing anything that caused His name to be profaned or dishonored. You would have to have done this every moment of every day of your life.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8 NKJV) The Sabbath day was a day set aside for rest and the worship God. To have perfectly obeyed this Law you must have had one day every week where you did no labor and spent the day focused on God and on worshipping Him. You would have to have done this every week of every month of every year of your life.

Honor your father and your mother…” (Exodus 20:12 NKJV) To honor your father and mother included obedience to them but was not limited just to that. To honor them is to ensure that nothing you do brings shame to them, demeans them or makes light of them. To have perfectly obeyed this Law would mean that never once in your life did you disobey your parents or do anything that brought shame to them, demeaned them or made light of them.

You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13 NKJV) The meaning of this one is pretty obvious and for most of us, it seems that it’s easy enough to keep. Until we get to Jesus and see what He had to say about it that is. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says that being angry with someone without cause, despising someone or calling them a fool was the spirit behind this Law (Matt 5:22). To have perfectly kept this Law would mean that not once in your life have you taken another human life, been angry at someone without a valid and righteous reason, despised someone in speech, thought or action and have never called anyone a fool.

You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14 NKJV) This was a command on the sanctity of marriage so obviously sexual relations outside of marriage were forbidden. Jesus also takes this one and moves it deeper. He says that having lustful thoughts about one someone other than your spouse is the spirit behind this Law (Matt 5:28). So this would not only include the physical act of adultery but also pornography and probably even romance novels. To have perfectly kept this Law would mean that not once in your life have you had sex outside the bonds of marriage or had lust filled thoughts about someone other than your spouse.

You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15 NKJV) This is a command against taking and keeping something that belongs to someone else. There are so many ways that this could be done. It can be done by employees on the job, politicians in government and customers in retail stores. To have perfectly kept this Law would mean that not once in your life have you ever taken anything that didn’t belong to you.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16 NKJV) The broadest understanding of this Law is that it is a Law against lying. This would include little lies, twisting the truth, telling half-truths, telling gossip without really knowing the truth or intentionally seeking to discredit someone through falsehood. To have perfectly kept this Law would mean that not once in your life have you ever told a lie, told a half-truth, passed on gossip you weren’t sure about or intentionally tried to discredit someone through falsehood.

You shall not covet…” (Exodus 20:17 NKJV) Covetousness is consuming desire for what you do not have. Covetousness covers a lot of ground. You can covet money, stuff, success, looks and even people. When we covet something, we have an overwhelming desire to have something we don’t currently possess. Acquiring this thing, whatever it is, becomes the consuming passion and desire of our lives. To have perfectly kept this Law would mean that not once in your life have you ever let the acquisition of something you didn’t currently possess become the driving force of your life.

So how did you do? What was your score? Keep in mind that this is a pass or fail test. Even if you scored 90% on this, you still failed. It’s not the size of the violation that makes us guilty of sin and deserving of the punishment for sin, it’s the violation itself. We also have to understand that a perfect score isn’t that at some point in time we have kept all ten. Instead, a perfect score is that I have perfectly kept all ten every day of my life from the time I was born. To keep a perfect score I must perfectly keep all ten every day of my life until the day I die. We cannot even have one slip up ever and still claim to have a perfect score.

If we scored anything less than a perfect score, then we are guilty of sinning against God and we have earned the wages of these sins. The eternal wrath of God will be poured out on all that have sinned. This leaves us in a really bad place. Tomorrow we’ll see what Jesus did to save us from this wrath and why this makes Him the only true source for salvation.

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