Before I started seeking a deeper relationship with God, I understood sin to be those things listed in the ten commandments (which, I’ve probably broken all of, mind you) that we were supposed to try and avoid doing. I’m pretty sure that a lot of Christians think or feel that way as well. But how do you explain those things that aren’t on the list? All of those little sins in between that aren’t listed in the top 10? There is no “thou shall not cuss when people cut you off in traffic,” or “thou shall not be petty towards my neighbor because their unraked leaves keep blowing in my yard.” What about those types of things? Better yet, how do I explain the inclination I had to lie at the age of 4-years-old when I did something my mama told me not to do?
One of my first discoveries on my journey to get a better understanding of sin led me to a sermon by Pastor Tony Evans (Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas, TX-Check him out. He’s a fantastic teacher!). A lot of what I am about to type is directly from his teaching because he explains it so well. He explained how sin itself is the desire to live a life independently of God, or, rebellion against God. He also went into the explanation of how there are 3 types of sin:
- Inherited Sin-The passed on depravity from, or due to Adam’s sin. This may be hard to understand but look at it this way: Adam and Eve’s sin caused eternal separation of man from God. With the existence of sin in our world, God’s presence will not exist among it. God is Holy, and as you can clearly look at the news, social media, etc., and see, the world is not.
- Imputed Sin– “Imputed” is a term used in financial and legal settings. It means to take something that belongs to someone and credit it to another person’s account. Before the law of Moses was given, sin was not imputed to man. Meaning, man was still sinful, due to the inherited sin of Adam, but man had no awareness of what sin actually was so God didn’t hold them accountable for it. After the law was given to Moses however, sins committed in violation of that law were imputed to men. See, God is EXTREMELY fair and just.
- Personal Sin– These are the sins that are committed every day by us humans. Because we have inherited sin (the stuff we got from Adam) we commit everything from seemingly innocent untruths to murder. NONE of which are acceptable under God’s standards. But, we can’t help it. We’re born with a natural inclination to sin, due to the fall and the separation of man from God’s Spirit.
Now, here’s where the interesting part comes in: Those who have not accepted Christ have to pay the penalty for inherited, imputed and personal sin and the price for that is hell and spiritual death. For those who believe in Christ, however, we have the power to resist sin by the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. I talked about this in my last blog post, how the receiving of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual transaction and the ONLY WAY we can have access to the one true God. You see, once man sinned and chose Satan’s way over God’s way, in the beginning, God took His Spirit from amongst us. Now, the only presence of God’s Spirit upon the earth exists within those who desire to receive it, through Jesus. It’s an entirely spiritual occurrence, which is hard to understand if we keep trying to make physical sense out of spiritual things and not laying down our own understanding so that we may receive His.
Knowing and understanding all of this, does this mean that since we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that POOF! we won’t sin anymore? Um no, and God doesn’t necessarily expect that to happen because those of us who have accepted Jesus are still part flesh, living in a fallen world that appeals to all things fleshy! All God asks and expects is for us to: a) acknowledge that His ways are NOT the world’s ways, b) acknowledge that the world’s ways are sinful, c) repent, turn from that sin, accept that Jesus Christ is Lord and renew our minds DAILY with His word, which gives further insight to His ways.
This all sounds easy, right? But of course, it’s not. You can take one look at our world today and see that the human heart is exceptionally flawed and full of sin. Again, once that decision was made to take Satan’s word over God’s in the garden, God washed His hands of the earth and handed it over to Satan, and all of the ways of the world are Satan’s ways, not God’s. It’s like when you’re 17-years-old, and you ignore your parents’ curfew. They tell you to be home by 10, but you come home by 12. When you walk in, your mom tells you, “oh, you’re grown now? Well then, if you’re just going to do what you want to do, pack up and get out of my house!” God kicked us out of the house Y’all, and the only way He’s letting us back in is if we accept Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we go down with the world and all its ways because we chose it over God.
In conclusion, I’d like to put my business in the streets to further illustrate how sin and the Holy Spirit are working in my life. Before renewing my relationship with God and my understanding, I had sex outside of marriage with no thought to it whatsoever. I mean sure, I knew the Bible stated that I wasn’t supposed to do it, but the Bible was a book written thousands of years ago and times have changed! The world has changed! Once I surrendered my will to God, confessed that I was a sinner, and I realized that my ways were nowhere near superior to His, the Holy Spirit revealed to me WHY God’s standard for marriage, sex, commitment, etc., was important, and how it was the exact opposite of the world’s standard. It changed my entire perspective. Now, does that mean that after my realization, I never had sex outside of marriage again? Um, no. Remember what I said about still being flesh and the world appealing to all things fleshy? Yeah…that. The only difference is. However, I no longer view it as something I should be able to do just because I want to and I’m not hurting anyone else. I trust God’s will and way over my own, even if I don’t fully grasp the “why” just yet. Therefore, I strive for obedience versus doing what is physically satisfying to me. Because once I realized that God loves me so much that He sacrificed someone else for my sinful nature so that I could live in His presence eternally, how could I repeatedly take advantage of that? But I would have never been able to come to that realization and had that kick in my conscience without the Holy Spirit. And if you doubt that truth, try it for yourself. Tell yourself that you won’t do a, b, and c because God frowns upon it. You can’t deny that without some kind of spiritual transformation, it’s hard to prevent yourself from doing something that is pleasing to you and not hurting anyone else but quite frankly, a sin in God’s eyes.
I hope that if you had any questions or hang-ups on sin, this cleared some things up for you. Most of all, I hope it clears up the misconception that all it takes to get to heaven is to, “just be a good person.” In God’s eyes, NONE of us are righteous (Romans 3:10-12), and we have to stop limiting our understanding or definition of a “good person” to the world’s standards. God knows we won’t reach perfection until Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom here on earth and we receive those new, immortal, sinless bodies. Until then, however, seek Him, seek His ways, pursue righteousness, know that you will fall short (but Jesus died for those falls), and live every day to please Him above all. When you know, believe and live by this, none of these things plaguing the world can or will affect you. Peace and clarity are the amazing side effects of the pursuit of righteousness.