Sin, the Elephant in the Room
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10
When we think about God we always experience a little discomfort. We may be struck by awe and wonder when we think about His divine majesty, His fearful holiness, and His all-conquering grace, but there is still a gnawing discomfort under it all. We are aware of something that is wrong. It unsettles us. We are aware that we are sinners in the presence of a holy God. The Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). There is no exception to the rule. All persons everywhere deserve the wrath and curse of God due to us for our sin.
This doctrine of sin is one that is often avoided. It is sort of the leper of theology. Nobody wants to talk about it explicitly. But it is the elephant in the room. It cannot be avoided. It effects everything. Our first parent, Adam, sinned. His sin was met by God’s cursing all mankind and all of nature. The wages of sin is death the Bible teaches. No one escapes. Death is exhaustively the case for mankind.
What is sin anyway? Sin begins in us as an all-penetrating part of our nature. It is a disposition of rebellion against God. Its effect is to ruin our whole experience of ourselves and control of ourselves. Our desires and inner-selves and natural harmony of our mind and body are all distorted and disoriented. This perverted disposition of soul leads to thoughts, words, and deeds that are disobedient to God’s nature and law that He has revealed. We fail to do what pleases Him, and we do what displeases Him. This condition leads to all human misery.
If we ask the man on the street “Are all people bad?” he would say “no” emphatically “no!.” If we ask the same man on the street “Are all people perfect?” he would say “Of course not, no one is perfect.” But here is the worm in the apple. If there is already an imperfection, if there is already one act, one thought, one disposition to rebel, are we not rebels against God? The streetlights, the locks on our door, the police department, the army, navy, and air force, all testify that there is something wrong with us individually and collectively. But we just do not want to call it sin. In fact, we live in a time when all manner of perversity is said to be natural and therefore in some way good. People feel incapable of changing or dominating their unnatural desires. This is because of the nature of sin. Sin is an all-pervasive slave-master. This is what we mean when we speak of the dominion of sin. Its power makes us feel that we can do nothing other but give into its sway.
The whole message of the Bible is based on the reality of sin. Sin is real. Sin is powerful. Sin ruins everything. But God sent His only begotten son to take our place to do what Adam could not do for us. Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father and His obedience is attributed to everyone who will come to God through Him. Jesus died on the cross to bear the wrath and curse of God for all sin. Everyone who comes to God in repentance asking for the forgiveness of sin will be forgiven all his sins. Jesus rose from the dead as a testimony that the Father accepted this offering. The Father gave Jesus the power of resurrection to give life to us who believe in Him. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, the Bible says, will be saved. The guilt of sin is cancelled. The power of sin for the believer is broken. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things have become new. We have new life in Christ. When we believe we are born again by the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit.
There is no gospel of salvation without talking about the need for salvation because of sin. And real thinking about God must deal with the subject of what separates us from God. Sin is the elephant in the room. And we need to start naming it for what it is. This needs to be done, not simply in church services, until we make clear that sin is what it is and that it leads to misery and death. Until then we have not done our job as those who are seriously seeking God. Our society has banished the idea of sin from the public realm. In fact, unless the Christian church returns to identify sin in the public arena, we will fail utterly to present what is the fundamental issue that will save us and our society which the Gospel addresses. In other words, we will fail to offer the real, full-orbed salvation of the Bible.
I write this as a sinner saved by grace who is still repenting day-by-day of my sins and depending on the promise of the verse written above this blog that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us all our sin. This forgiveness, John goes on to say is based upon the cross work of Jesus Christ as a satisfaction for our sin. This points us outside ourselves for the solution for our sin. No believer in Jesus Christ may truly think of himself as self-sufficiently good in and of himself. Rather, as Christians, the elephant in the room should humble us to be more openly accepting of those around us. We can accept others in their flawed, sinful life without putting our stamp of approval on their attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. This is a fine line to walk. However, I don’t know how else we may freely offer, in love, the open arms of the gospel that calls us to a freely offered salvation through Jesus Christ, our living Lord.