New Apostolic Church USA

Understanding Sin

"What is sin?" from the Summer 2018 Vision Newsletter

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19

Because of the fall of Adam and Eve, humans are born with concupiscence, the inclination to sin. Since this inclination is a part of our nature from the day we are born, we should take some time to try to understand sin and its effects on our lives.

What is sin? We may feel inclined to answer this question by reducing sin to an action we do or some words we say. But how do we know what a bad word or action is versus a good one? Who sets this standard? Even when we look at different societies or countries, we find different sets of laws and regulations. Which are correct? When we consider these questions, we can come to understand that sin is more complex than something that is “bad.” Sin is: a turning away from God. We can see that the definition also becomes the consequence of sin – we are turning ourselves away from our God. Every word or action that disorients us from God’s will makes a mark on us that continually pushes us away from Him and warps us into a being He did not intend us to be.

In Romans 3:23, Paul wrote, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… We need to understand that the sins we commit do not begin with just the things we do or say. Understanding our sin starts with who we are. We are not good people who sometimes sin. We are sinful people who sometimes do the right thing. It is a part of our nature. We are permanently in a state that is separate from God, because He can’t be where sin is. We are sinners in need of a Savior. When we become aware of how much we fall short, we begin to comprehend our dependence on our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is through Him that this divide can be mended.

Before a person comes to know or believe in Christ, they cannot understand their need for a Savior. Unbelievers are trapped in sin because they either remain tolerable of their sin, or, without accepting Christ as their Savior, they think they can save themselves.

Believers in Christ understand that they are dependent on Him. When they accept Christ in their lives, they have to work to transform from their old, sinful nature into the new nature of Christ. The battle against sin, which tries to prevent that new creation from growing, is between the believer’s old nature and their new nature. It’s not just about the things you might do each day that are sins, but rather, that you are a sinner and that’s why you do those things. This fight between the old and the new nature is more than just trying to change our behaviors or actions, it is about changing who we are. It is possible to change our actions on our own. But we cannot change our underlying, sinful nature. To do that, we are completely dependent on Christ and His sacrifice. Only the power and freedom from sin we have through Him gives us the ability to overcome our nature and transform into His image. It’s not about doing something, it’s about becoming an new person in Christ.

When we come to the realization that we are sinners in need of forgiveness, we are led to confess our sins and to repent for them. Until we are made perfect through God’s grace, we will always be sinners. Martin Luther, in his 95 Theses said, “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ…willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

Reflecting on our sin and turning to Christ must become a daily practice or discipline.

Following Christ does not mean that we are just trying to be a good person or that we want to be nice to those around us. Following Christ means our sinful nature dies daily. But until His Spirit wholly consumes our old nature and we are re-joined with God, we will be sinners. Because of this, let us always humbly and joyfully embrace God’s gift of repentance.

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