Whatever Happened to Sin?


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?