What exactly is the problem with sin?

Church without labels 3 – What exactly is the problem with sin?

At an Alpha course someone asked me; “why do we have to ask for forgiveness from God when we lye to someone. What has God to do with it when I tell a little lye?” A very good question that made me think. I was used to ask for forgiveness for these kinds of sins, but why was it a sin? What is His problem when I am jealous, or eat pork or transgress an other command? Why do we have all those rules anyway? When there are no rules, we can’t transgress them and then we wouldn’t have any problem with sin, isn’t is? Because even Paul says; “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law (…) for apart from the law, sin was dead.” (Romans 7:7,8)

When there are no rules, you can’t transgress them. So get rid of the rules, then we don’t sin any more.

Unfortunately this doesn’t work. There just are very good rules everybody agrees upon the importance of keeping them. Like don’t cheat on people or exploit them, take care of the sick, the elderly and other people who aren’t capable to take care of themselves, don’t vandalize stuff, be honest and reliable, etc. Despite that everybody will tell you they want to keep these rules, there is something that makes you transgress them sometimes.

Paul also sees this and says about it: “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:18-20)

In other words, there is something inside you that makes you do things you actually don’t want to do. “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me”, Paul continues to say. The bible calls that evil ‘sin’. It is a force we can’t escape and can’t control.

The question remains why is this standing between us and God. Isaiah 59:2 says: “your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you”. It is unpleasant that we sometimes hurt other people, but if we can’t really do anything about it, because it is caused by a force stronger than ourselves, then it isn’t fair that God doesn’t want to look at us any more, is it?

But when you read a little further you will see that God hides his face because He can’t stomach the misery we do to each other. “He was appalled that there was no one to intervene” (verse 16). How is it possible people lye and cheat and exploit one another without even blinking their eyes? This is not how He meant it to be. God created everything very good, but the force that keeps us prisoners, the evil that makes us do these things we totally don’t want to do, has corrupted everything. Sin transformed paradise almost into hell.

That is the problem with sin.

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