Long time ago, the Garden: the universe was corrupted by two humans who chose sin over the Almighty. God immediately cursed those two, then gave a promise that sin would be dealt with by a perfect sacrifice.
In short, it used to be about sin.
Christians throughout history understood how pervasive sin was. Knew that it was a ball and chain that kept them in bondage. The whole Reformation started because Luther was overcome by his own sinfulness and was begging for release. Sin killed, then killed some more.
It used to be about sin. The freedom we are to proclaim to the captives is freedom from sin. The ancients understood the ugly stain they could not wash out. Seekers wrestled with sin and fell upon God seeking forgiveness from it. The grace that promises to lead us home was offered freely to us when Christ paid our penalty, the penalty of sin. It used to be about sin. Preachers railed against sin. They understood that conversion came only after people understood the depths of their own depravity. Those preachers brought people to the cross, the place where sins were laid down and forgiven. Those converts knew they were saved because that crushing load of sin was removed. They wept over the release from that oppressive taskmaster.
But in churches today, the message has been changed. It is no longer about sin; it is about what we can get from God. Christianity has become the religion of meeting felt needs. Need your car fixed? We Christians can help with that! No one to pal around with? Hey, let’s get a pickup game of basketball going! Can’t walk the walk? No sense feeling guilty about it!
Many seekers, especially in America, don’t want to hear about sin, so our preachers oblige them by not talking about it. “Too scary, too off-putting to people.” “That message doesn’t work anymore.” “You can’t catch flies with vinegar.” So in the place of the message about the depths of sinfulness we all possess, many churches have adopted a message that says, “You are entitled to special treatment, and God is right there to give you anything you think you need.”
Last year, I heard a presentation advertising small groups within a church. This was a multimedia extravaganza that featured numerous real-life stories of people currently attending the church’s small groups. The clip ran almost five minutes, but when it was all said and done, the name of Jesus had never been mentioned. People talked glowingly about what they got from their small groups, but nothing was ever said about triumphing over sin, getting closer to Christ, understanding the Bible, or any of the traditional Christian issues. Instead, we all heard about going to baseball games with others in the group, having someone bring groceries over in a tough time, and the like.
It’s now all about what we can get. Because of this, few people ever talk about sin anymore. I wonder if seekers ever wrestle with their sinfulness. Considering the dearth of time we all claim today, perhaps others simply cannot devote much mental energy to thinking about their own sin since so much time is commanded in getting felt needs met.
The “new” churches that adhere to this self-centered paradigm wrap their evangelistic efforts around conducting felt need analyses or interpreting neighborhood demographic studies rather than working to show people the depths of their depravity and the person who can release that burden, Jesus. We are on the verge of losing the entire sin perspective as we abandon the very core of why Christ came in favor of making everyone happy, lest they find another, more accommodating church to attend.
Jesus said that if He be lifted up, He would draw all men to Him. Are we lifting Him up and showing Him as the Redeemer and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? Or have we reduced the Savior to little more than being a sanctified version of Santa, doling out whatever we ask for in the absent shadow of a missing cross?
Joy unspeakable comes from knowing that we will not have to pay the price for sin because Christ already has. In the midst of our endless desire to have our felt needs met, do we still remember this?
Whatever happened to sin?
9 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to Sin?”
Excellent article, Dan. Very well said. Gary Petersen
The second worst mistake the Christian Church in America has made is to emphasize God’s perfect love to the exclusion of all His other attributes. It is a part of the worst mistake which is that we put forth a small God. We don’t put forth a God whose perfect righteousness requires perfect judgement. We don’t show the God of Isaiah’s vision that caused him to tremble and cry out overcome by the realization of his own uncleanliness that came with it. We don’t show the God Who had a covenant meal with seventy elders on the mountain and all they could tell us about it was what the floor looked like under His feet. We show a nice grandfatherly old fellow in the sky who loves us and can wink at sin. Shame on us.
An excellent, and sobering post. I’ve had conversations with younger believers, who rarely read the Old Testament, because they just don’t understand all the killing and blood and the angry, vengeful God portrayed there. They choose to stick with the more loving teachings of the New Testament. It’s clear they have no understanding of sin as a key theme in the Bible, and its judgement by a holy, righteous God. The Good News is only good because the bad news was so bad…
“I’ve had conversations with younger believers, who rarely read the Old Testament, because they just don’t understand all the killing and blood and the angry, vengeful God portrayed there.”
That is the problem with the ‘church’ in general, not just teens.
First of all it is the lack of understanding of our Hebraic roots that one sees G-d as vengeful and angry. Yahweh from the very beginning all throughout Torah and the Tanakh (acronym for Torah, Prophets, Writings in Hebrew also known as Old Testament) is reaching out to man, wanting fellowship, and grieving over the adultress ways of His people.
The complete lack of understanding to Torah is why there is a problem with the understanding of sin.
Sin is the TRANSGRESSION of the LAW. 1Jn 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law”
What do you expect when the shepherds teach the flock that the Law has been done away with…even though the scriptures clearly teach otherwise.
The Law has never been done away with…only the PENALTY of the Law and only for those who choose to enter into Covenant with Yahweh by faith through the shed blood of Yeshua.
YHVH spoke to Jeremiah saying, “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray.” This is true today. Most shepherds have very little knowledge of the Torah (and most don’t even know what it is–they think its a ‘jewish thang’). Torah means “instruction” actually to “point the finger” as in one giving directions.
Torah teaches the Bride how to prepare to walk in Holiness for her Bridegroom. How to live in the mishkan (the tabernacle, holy of holies, the bridal chamber with her groom).
Not only is there rarely teaching anymore about sin, but concurrently there is very little teaching on Holiness.
Torah is our instructions on how to walk out our lives of redemption AFTER we are born again. Torah teaches us Yah’s ways, on how to live in the blessing realm.
One cannot enter into a marriage and then think they can just live any ole way they please. The same is true with Yahweh.
Scripture teaches us that the man of Lawlessness (Torahlessness) has been loosed, this is obvious b/c those who choose to follow the commandments of Yahweh are labled “judaizers, legalists, pious” ect.
And yet Yeshua himself says, “If you love me , keep my commandments” Jn 14:15.
When you have only 3 comments posted to a topic like this….the message is very clear. No one has an understanding to the Holiness of Yahweh and they never will unless they return to the ancient paths, the ways of Yah.
It’s true that too many in the church (let alone the world) do not understand what sin really is or how serious it is. I believe the gospel should always be preached with the ten commandments in view, teaching people that they are guilty of breaking God’s law and in dire need of salvation in order to escape the coming wrath of God against sinners.
I disagree with how far lover of torah goes however. The law is our guardian until faith comes. Now we live according to the Spirit, who teaches us to say no to ungodliness. The law is no longer our teacher, He is.
I agree that we should not neglect the Old Testament Scriptures– they are full of rich wisdom and the voice of God to his people. We cannot have a full appreciatian and understanding of the gospel without them. I commend anyone who loves His word as given there. However, it seems to me lover of torah, that you may be neglecting Romans and Hebrews and others. As far as the verse you quoted from John, it seems taken out of context to me. John goes out of his way in all his writing to clarify what the commandments are: to believe in Jesus, and love God and man. This is hardly advocating going back to the old covenant, which is still insufficient to justify us before a most holy God. Here are a few verses which have shaped (along many others) my views on this:
Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
1Jo 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
Heb 7:18 On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness
Heb 7:19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
I am certainly no scholar, but I try to prayerfully understand what the Spirit is trying to teach us in His Word. I would certainly welcome and appreciate any Scripture references to study if I’m missing something here.
Couple things: First, God did not curse man, He said man was cursed because of Eve and Adams actions. Mere semantics perhaps, but I think it’s important. The curse was not a random punishment by God for the disobedience of Eve and Adam; it was the natural result of their actions.
Next-The Law kills. No other way about it. It is important to know and understand the law, but only because it shows the nature of God. So while the Torah exists to show us this God who made us, the Torah does not save us. It is, and always has been, Grace by which we are saved. Those who went before the sacrifice of Christ were saved not by their sacrifices and offerings, but by their faith in the Grace of God because they knew the law, and so knew they were unworthy. It was the lives they lived and the fruit of those lives, that was attributed to them as righteousness, just as it is today.
Third, and my rant is over. Should we be surprised that the church today avoids talkof sin like the plague? The purpose of Satan is to devour believers. As C.S. Lewis said so well through Uncle Screwtape, we need only be diverted, not rebuffed or prevented from the throne of Grace. By dithering over sin, we have been successfully prevented from our primary mission: To preach Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. If there is no sin, then there is no need for a Savior.
Thank you for your comments.
I agree with you and with David that it is by grace through faith in the shed blood of Yeshua that saves us. I also agree that Torah does not save us, for Torah is not about salvation; it is and has always been about Yahweh’s instructions to us on how to live lives of obedience once we come into salvation.
The word ‘law’ is misunderstood by most christians and hopefully what I share might bring light to this topic.
Moses is our model of how and what to teach our children. Moses followed the pattern given him by seeing the Word of YHVH face to face. These words spoken to Moses were written down for the Bride as her ketubah, the Hebrew word for her marriage covenant. Other Hebrew idioms present the ketubah as “the promise”, “the message”, “the gospel”, “the good news”, “good tidings” and “the word of truth”.
The interpreters of the Brit Chadasha/New Testament put all these expressions together and boiled them down into one word and meaning called nomos (Strongs’ # G3551), translated into English as “law”. Unfortunately this Greek word looks more negative and legalistic than positive.
Whenever we read the word “law” in the Brit Chadasha/New Testament, it is from the Greek rendering nomos that the translators chose to consistently use in the text. As a result, when we read God’s Word today, we do not know whether nomos/law is referring to YHVH’s teaching and instruction and how to receive the blessings of His Word and the moral and ethical code of conduct to walk in His righteous ways, or whether the word is instead referring to the “law of sin and death, that which can cause our flesh to govern us, and which brings about curses in our lives when we walk outside YHVH’s blessings in our thoughts, attitude, speech or physical behavior.
Thirdly, does the word nomos/law instead refer to one of the Five Books of Moses or perhaps all Five Books of Moses? And fourthly, does the word nomos/law in the passage refer to the Ten Commandments? Is it being used to describe the Covenant set up with Abraham, or the Covenant set up with Moses, or both? And if nomos/law refers to the Covenant, which contained our inheritance, identity, blessings and direction for how to receive them, then why would the word nomos/law have a negative connotation when the Word of God and Covenants were to bless us? I could list many more, but the point is: which law was the word nomos used to refer to? Was it the realms that brought blessings, or the realms that brought curses?
Are law and Torah the same? No! The two are separate. In the Brit Chadasha/New Testament they are not distinguished separately but joined under the one word nomos. Nomos was used for both so that you cannot tell which is which, and this brings great confusion to the body of believers today .
Unfortunately anti-Semitism had become very strong by the time the Scriptures were put into affordable print (King James Version), and the word nomos became a part of our heritage.
How did this all come about? Hebrew cannot be translated linguistically, but hopefully the following information will be a blessing and help bring clarity to some scriptures.
The Hebrew Scriptures were interpreted from the original Hebrew meaning. From the 3rd to 2nd century BCE, three major changes took place in the Hebrew culture. Firstly, the Jews began to strictly follow the oral tradition (Talmud) alongside of the Torah, especially in regard to the suppression of the sacred name of YHVH. Secondly, a massive campaign of Greek Hellenization began (started originally by Alexander the Great) with the purpose of uniting the Greek Empire (along with Israel) under one common religious heritage. It was, and still is today, the foundation of the modern day ecumenical movement. And thirdly, the LXX (an acronym that stands for the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) was commissioned and eventually adopted as Scripture for non-Hebrew speaking Jews.
Greek understanding is more abstract and legalistic in thought, while Hebrew understanding is more conceptual in thought. That there is anything wrong with the Greek language is not what I am saying here, nor is the authority of the Scriptures in question.
Conversely, the point that I am attempting to make is that the Greek understanding may be misguiding for many who are not familiar with Hebrew terms in scripture.
We see examples of the influence of Greek thought in how many have interpreted the following scriptures for years. Firstly, when YHVH delivered the Children of Israel, He did so by His great Power and by showing them lasting impressions, marks, signs and wonders. These words are the background understanding in Hebrew thought to the Greek root word translated as “statutes” in English.
Again, the whole purpose of the Torah, and YHVH’s guidance of the Children of Israel through the Wilderness, was to show them His loving kindness in being their Deliverer and delivering them by His great Power. This is the background understanding in the Hebrew language to the Greek root word translated as “judgments” in Scripture.
Another example is YHVH’s loving teaching and instruction guided the Children of Israel through the Wilderness and enabled them to enter in and posses the land He was giving them. This is the Hebrew thought behind the Greek root word for the English words “commandments, “decrees and “laws” in the Tanakh/Old Testament.
Many were taught that YHVH’s teaching and instruction for LIFE, mistranslated as “nomos/law”, was done away with now that we are under grace in Yeshua. This is not true. The grace in Torah is YHVH’s provision of forgiveness and redemption back to Him through the grace and mercy offered us in Yeshua, a gift that we did not deserve. Yeshua fulfilled the purpose of the law. He is the goal of Torah.
The “law was the shadow like a tutor for our lives, it was never meant to save us. Only Yeshua, the author of the Torah, can save us. Yeshua’s words (at Mount Sinai, His teaching and instruction) will never disappear; they will always be our guide!
Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words (ALL of them from Genesis to Revelation) will never pass away.”
Translating Hebrew into Greek left both people groups blind, veiled and separated for a season from the truth. From a Christian/ Hellenistic background it was hard to “see Torah” in the Brit Chadash/New Testament. Likewise, from a Synagogue/Jewish background, it was hard to “see Messiah” in the Tanakh.
The next time we read the Scriptures, for example Psalm 119, we should try looking at both Greek and Hebrew descriptions and see which interpretation filled King David with passion.
In the Greek rendering it reads that David passionately loved statutes, ordinances, justice, decrees, commandments, judgements and the law. In the Hebrew understanding we see that David loved with passion YHVH’s acts of loving kindness, signs and wonders, teaching and instruction, lasting impressions, influences, and YHVH’s Deliverer, Deliveries and Power. Which rendering was David passionate about and gives us a vision of the Messiah, the greater Torah?
I do not mean to condemn the translations we have available today, but instead bring deeper insight and understanding Hebraically to some Greek/legalistic terms in the Scriptures. The information that I have provided has come from Torah teachers Carl & Julie Parker of Messianic Israel Alliance.
Hope this has been a blessing to you.