“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Who am I? This most basic of questions demands a response and every human being makes one. Humans answer this question largely by determining their own identity: I am who I choose to be. Yet our insistence on taking life into our own hands is easily distorted and becomes defining of what the Scriptures call ‘sin’ – that willful insistence on stealing my existence from God and resolving every issue down to what I want.
The culture says that we are bundles of largely unrealized wonderfulness only inhibited by the myriad injustices foisted on us by others (who are, apparently, not so wonderful).
The Bible reveals God’s assessment of the human to us. The defining word regarding what it means to be human does not rightly derive from us but the One who created us…from God. And God says we are willful sinners, deserving of His wrath, in need of repentance and forgiveness. Small wonder humans flee from this God of wrath for all they are worth, preferring to “re-imagine” God in kinder, gentler forms.
If, however, there is no need to talk about the wrath of God, then there is not much need to talk about the sin that incurs the wrath. But this avoidance is no answer to the real problem of sin and all it’s consequences.
Christianity is incoherent without the idea of sin. There can be no good news of the Gospel without first understanding the bad news of sin. The mission of Jesus makes no sense if we remove such concepts from our thinking.
Jesus made it clear that the reason he came to earth was to save sinners: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners”. Take away the doctrine of sin and we take away the doctrine of the Incarnation. Indeed, we take away the entire message of the New Testament.
Because we are born in the darkness of sin, we assume our blindness to be life in the light. But Christ Jesus died for sinners that we might walk in the “true light”, Christ Himself. When we persist in our self-defining intransigence, we remain in our sins. When Christ opens our eyes through the Gospel by His amazing grace, we see our need for a savior and the Savior we need.