First, what is sin? Sin is wanting to be our own god and living life our own way. Sin is in everyone, and it shows itself in our thoughts, words, actions or what we fail to do. In Colossians 3:5-11 Paul encourages the Colossians to put off their ‘old self’ since they died with Christ and have a ‘new self’ being renewed in the knowledge of Christ. By our ‘olds self’ Paul is referring to our sinful nature.
Sin is often ridiculed today and even Christians think about it incorrectly. Here’s some common myths about sin:
- If I feel at peace about it, it’s not a sin. Feelings are a very poor guide to sin. The best way to recognise sin is to look intently into the Bible, which is like a mirror showing us what we are really like. (James 1:22-24)
- It’s just a private sin. Sin has a way of becoming public. Sin affects everyone. It first of all has a dehumanising effect on us. The way it dehumanises us then affects the way we treat others. Jesus said a day is coming when everything will be known, so while a sin may seem private, all sin will be made public on that day. (Luke 8:17)
- This will be the last time. It’s the permission we give ourselves to do again what we intend to stop. The trouble is, it’s always the last time… until the next time. This is a lie of the devil. Don’t believe it.
- There is a hierarchy of sin. Sin is not inherently an action but an attitude. It stems from our nature. Therefore there is no hierarchy of sin. Rather all our actions are symptoms of the sin in our life. The smallest white lie is as bad as the most heinous crime, since both point to the sin in our heart.
- I can always repent later. This is a myth on two counts. First, failing to repent hardens out hearts. Who can say that our continual refusal to repent will not so harden our hearts that we actually lose the inclination to repent all together. Second, Jesus is returning any day now. We don’t know when, there will be no warning signs, and when he does return the opportunity for repentance will be finished. Is delaying your repentance a risk you’re willing to take?
The great news about Jesus, though, is that if we repent (turn back to God) and have faith (trust) in him then we will be saved, not just from the punishment of sin, but also from its power. It’s on the basis of this that Paul calls the Corinthians to ‘put to death’ the sin in their lives. How about you? Do you know God’s salvation? Are you putting sin to death in your life?