Unfortunately for some, their spiritual understanding has tended to give the impression that “sin” is just willful participation in some act of behavior, such as stealing, drunkenness, adultery, etc., which is against religious and social moral values and laws. This unfortunate concentration on moral behavior has led many to believe that the church's primary function is judgment, i.e., to “convict sinners" of their wrongs so they may see the light, change and “do right." This fosters the belief that if an individual’s exterior behavior is acceptable, all is well and good; therefore, he is qualified to belong to the church. This is an unfortunate misconception, because it belies the “Good News" that Jesus brought. This attitude says, “Change your ways, then we will accept you." In reality, the Gospel message is found in:
- Romans 5:8 NASB: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Titus 3:5-6 AMP “ He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Which He poured out [so] richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
It is interesting to note that one of the primary complaints of a few religious leaders in Jesus day was -- He was too much in the company of so-called “sinners.” The truth is, long before Jesus even spoke about sin, He was telling and demonstrating what love is. When He did begin to speak on sin, He talked more specifically about pride, jealousy, lust, anger, greed, envy and indifference, which are the internal barriers between man and Himself and God. Certainly, there are behavioral sins. lt goes without saying that behavior can be a violation of values and laws. The problem of “sin” goes deeper than just behavior; it begins with internal motivation.
Each individual who discovers the reality of Christ learns that in the process of becoming a Christian, the true meaning of sin becomes clearer as he grows in his faith. The more he discovers about himself and God, the more he learns that sin is an attitude of the spirit, soul and mind; that the real basis of sin is self-gratification at the expense of others or self. lt is an attitude of self-worship, or satisfying self at any expense. lt could probably be classified as any self-motivation that comes between the love of man for God, others and himself.
The Good News is through Christ real change becomes possible. He is not interested in “cleaning us up.” He does not wash pigs. Instead He calls sheep – those who will surrender their will and life to Him so that He may enable them to lie down in green pastures and lead them beside the still waters so that their souls may be restored. Jesus Christ identified with our humanity and understands our weaknesses. Our salvation is in Him and with Him. He gently leads us. We are the sheep. He is the shepherd. (Psalm 23)