This morning I want to talk to you about one of the Wonderful Words of Warning: Sin. In the Bible, sin takes several forms:
Sometimes, sin is the willful transgression of the known law of God. God laid down the law through Moses to protect his people from themselves and one another. When I break the law, I invariably hurt one or more people, and I always end up hurting myself.
Sometimes, sin is missing the mark. Imagine you are an apprentice to a potter. In the beginning, the things you turn on the wheel and fire in the kiln will be primitive and sometimes downright ugly. It takes time and effort to become a master potter. And it takes time and effort to be the person God wants us to be. We miss the mark when we do anything other than our best. You remember that old grammar school ditty: Good, better, best, never let it rest, until the good is better, and the better is best. I think God wants that for all the people. It is not enough that we hit the mark yesterday. The mark is continually moving.
There is a third definition of sin, and I will let you hear it from the lips of another. A man once came to me with his life in shambles. Like King David, he had let his eyes wander. He ended up losing his wife, his children, his home—everything dear to him. He said, “Worth, do you know what sin is?” I said, “I think I do, but you had better tell me.” He said, “Sin is anything we do, by which we hurt ourselves or another.”
His definition was painfully perfect. I would add only that sin is “anything we do or fail to do” by which we hurt ourselves or another. Most of us are keenly aware of the sins we commit against God, against one another, and against ourselves; but we are often blissfully ignorant of the good that we have failed to do. It is only after we have achieved a degree of moral and spiritual knowledge that we are able to see that the good we fail to do can be even more costly than the evil we have done.
All of us are sinners. None are perfect. All have made mistakes. In Romans 3, the apostle write, “None is righteous, no not one. All have turned aside, together we have gone wrong.”
We are all sinners, but there is a remedy for the sins of the past. We need to seek forgiveness. 1st John 1:9 declares, “If we confess our sins, (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We can have forgiveness, and forgiveness is “the most therapeutic idea in the world.”
We are all sinners, but there is a remedy for sins of the future. We must love more. In Romans 13:9-10, St. Paul writes:
The commandments “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
It is easy to live a life of limited love, loving only those who are like us. It is more difficult to live a broader life, loving not only those who are like us but those who are unlike us. We can seldom do that without help. Fortunately, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
In one sense, sin is a bad word, a terrible word. However, in another sense sin is a wonderful word of warning that leads to a richer, fuller life. Check out the other “Wonderful Words of Life,” especially “Forgiveness.”
God bless you!