I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22
God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17
Someone has identified seven social sins:
- Wealth without work.
- Pleasure without conscience.
- Knowledge without character.
- Commerce without morality.
- Science without humanity.
- Worship without sacrifice.
- Politics without principle.
John Piper offers this definition of sin:
- “What is sin?
- It is the glory of God not honored.
- The holiness of God not reverenced.
- The greatness of God not admired.
- The power of God not praised.
- The truth of God not sought.
- The wisdom of God not esteemed.
- The beauty of God not treasured.
- The goodness of God not savored.
- The faithfulness of God not trusted.
- The commandments of God not obeyed.
- The justice of God not respected.
- The wrath of God not feared.
- The grace of God not cherished.
- The presence of God not prized.
- The person of God not loved.
- That is sin.”
My definition is that sin is a deadly disease too easily ignored, dismissed, overlooked, forgotten, trivialized, and self-justified. Sometimes it is seen as the devil on the cartoon character’s shoulder, or the dismissive, “It’s only a little pet sin,” comment offered in defense of a peccadillo of one kind or another. The would makes little of sin.
But the lengths to which God has gone to deal with sin and to explain why he was doing it by sending Jesus into the world (“not to condemn the world”), reveals just how big a deal sin really is. Sin kills. Sin condemns. Sin shames. Sin breaks hearts. Sin destroys hope. Sin steals joy. Sin is a very bad thing.
God, however, has swept away our sins and transgressions. Where we have missed the mark he has supplied One who has not. Because we have strayed into paths of evil he has taken the path from heaven to earth to ransom us. Where we have twisted ourselves and gotten caught in a web of iniquity, God springs the trap and sets us free.
When we celebrate Christmas we should at the same time have a great sense of joy and gladness, while still – in the back of our minds – lamenting the fact that God had to take on human flesh so he could die for our sins. Jesus’ birth foreshadows his death. But his death is but a stopover toward the resurrection.
The problem with sin has been dealt with by God through Jesus. This is remarkably good news to those who have not deceived themselves into believing that sin has nothing to do with them.