sin – a definition

We’re currently working through the blueprint in bible study: it’s a series of studies on Christian doctrine.

Each study covers one of the points of the doctrinal basis of the AFES; I first really encountered it at EU back at Sydney Uni, but it’s a decades old description of (evangelical) Christian beliefs that has weathered a lot of disputes between Christians about what the bible says about this or that.

Why would you have a doctrinal basis? Mainly to summarise your belief in words so you can avoid heresies (people coming up with concepts that sound a lot like Christianity, but differ on some crucial point), but there are often unexpected practical applications too.

Tonight we managed to work through the third point of the doctrinal basis:

The universal guilt and sinfulness of man since the Fall rendering man subject to God’s wrath and condemnation.

This is a pretty sombre point: everybody has done the wrong thing, and deserves (and can expect) God’s punishment. Not the kind of thing that you’d normally start a conversation with – "Hey – do you know what’s happening to you when you die?" – but bear with me here.

As we looked at a range of bible passages, one particularly useful idea emerged, as far as explaining the idea of sin to someone who hasn’t had a lot of exposure to the idea.

Sin is what happens when creatures who have been made in God’s image try to take the place of God. This is what happened in the whole "Eating the forbidden fruit" story: it was all about Adam and Eve wanting to take the place of God.

This means that sin isn’t some ugly notion where I’m being better than you because I’m a Christian.

Rather, each of us (Christian or not) have sinned: we have wanted to take the place of God, and we’ve acted on that.

Sin is not about limiting the fun things that we can do: trying to trick God into approving of us because we’re nice. It’s too late for that: we’ve already proven that we’re not good enough.

Sin is a breaking of relationship with God: instead of treating God with the respect and awe due to Him, sin is saying "actually, I know how to run things better than you; please leave me alone.&quot.

What comes to mind when you try to define "Sin"?

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  1. Is sin simply any thought, word or action which is not in complete accordance with God’s will? (idea from Ryles)

  2. Sure; that’s one way to look at it; but to be able to use that definition, you have to have a pretty thorough understanding of the will of God.

    I guess I’m talking about understanding why sin is a problem as much as what sin actually is.

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