What is Sin? And How to Overcome It!


Shyju Mathew

"Experience the Word of God, in the power of the Spirit."

January 18, 2012

This entry is part 7 of 30 in the series Featured Bible Study: 30 Christian Basics

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It is a topic that is familiar to us all. Even those we consider to be invincible in spirituality have been vulnerable to this poison; and all of us have drowned in it. What is sin?

Sin:  An immoral act against a divine law.

Some have also defined this way:  Sin is a failure to let God be God and placing something or someone in God’s rightful place of supremacy. There are times when we cherish money, possessions, ambitions, other relationships, and much more above the glory of God. There are times when we try to be the god of our own lives and not joyfully submit to Jesus; and most of the time, we disobey willingly and repeatedly. We exchange the glory of the Creator for the glory of created things (Romans 1:18-25).

The Problem:  Why Do We Sin?

We all have experienced it. We know what we ought to do, but are unable to do it. We can make goals and plans and profess how we will change, but it nearly always ends in failure. The reason we are so disappointed is because we misunderstand sin. We typically think of sin as an action, something that we do. However, scripture also talks about sin as something that actually exists in us.

–       It is parasitic in nature and is out to devour us (Romans 7:11)

–       It takes root and kills us (James 1:14-15)

–       It seeks to control us (Romans 7:20)

–       The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)

Therefore, sin is not merely something that we just do. As some have said, it is not that we are sinners because we sin, but that we sin because we were born sinners. We came into the world, before we even took a breath, completely fallen and needing God’s grace. That is why the Psalmist says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5). There is no one who does good. No not one (Psalm 53). Every one of us needs God’s mercy, because we have all fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23).

This is crucial that we understand this, because it will affect the way that we seek hope. If you believe that the problem is really a lack of education, then you will just try educating yourself for change. However, if the problem really is within us, as the Bible says, then there must be a radical transformation that has to come from outside of us. We must realize that our will was broken in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), and that is precisely why we can never simply will ourselves to victory – because we would be using what is broken to fix what is broken. That is why God must intervene.

The Solution:  The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Paul says that he is not ashamed of the Gospel for it IS the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). The Gospel is the power of God for salvation, transformation, and joyful fellowship with God. When we believe the Gospel, that Jesus finished it all, and that there is nothing else that we can do to earn God’s approval, make Him love us more or less, we are transformed. True repentance is having a revelation of what Christ has done, and turning away from our sin as a result.

The word repent in Greek (meta-noeo) actually means to feel remorse for an action and change directions as a result. However, it is not something that is purely emotional. In fact, the word in Greek can be sliced right down the middle, and two root words can be found. The first part of the word meaning, “after” and the second part sharing the root for, “knowledge.” What is implied is that there is remorse, and a change in direction, but as the result of having some sort of revelation. It is to change one’s direction or path after obtaining knowledge – conviction: that we are fallen, that God is an infinitely holy God, and He has come near to us in Jesus Christ. What joy there is in that!

In this life, we will continue to struggle with sin, as God is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus. However, when we come to the cross, we are deeply convicted of our sin, and deeply encouraged by the immeasurable love of Jesus, who was willing to die for us. We realize that there was nothing we could do to help ourselves, and yet God was willing to come to us. We are joyfully humbled that Christ lovingly took our shame, and we get a righteousness that is not our own (Philippians 3:5-11). Because of Jesus, we are treated as people who have never broken the law, not even once. Not. Even. Once.

As Tim Keller once noted, “The Gospel is this:  that I am far worse than I imagine and simultaneously more loved and accepted by God than I ever dared hope for – because of Jesus’ death for me.”

Discuss: What is your greatest struggle with overcoming sin? What can you share to other GTH readers on what you have learnt on this issue?



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