14 May 2018 by romanin
The word ‘sin’ in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word ‘hamartia’ which among other things means ‘to miss the mark’ as in archery. We talked about this in church a few Sundays ago, and it got me thinking about how I explain sin to others; I began to ask myself some questions.
It is important to ask questions, even childish sounding ones. Sometimes we just assume we know what a thing like sin is without investigating. A child investigates unashamedly, but sometimes we think we should know something or are expected to understand something and so don’t think to ask the simple questions that would help us truly understand. We just pretend we know, just like everyone else. (Or am I the only one that does that?) We all at least know that sin is bad, right?
So is sin just doing wrong? I thought about that. We could argue that sin is just doing wrong, but there are a couple of passages that troubled me about that. For example, Paul exhorts us to honor everyone. That is not a law type of issue where there is a clear right and wrong action. For example, by their many ‘laws,’ Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees are guilty of not honoring their parents (Matt 15:6). Another example is lust: Jesus clearly equates lustful desire with adultery or anger with murder; a thought with an action (Matt 5). We can nod our heads in agreement, but it only takes a moment of self-examination to realize that each of us is guilty, however we can put on a good face and pretend we are righteous with none being the wiser. Finally, Jesus says ‘not all who call me “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of God (Matt 7:21),’ citing that there will be people who prophecy, cast out demons, and otherwise share the gospel even with signs, and yet remain in sin because they do not have a real relationship with Jesus. What does that say to me about sin? Sin is more than just doing wrong.
So what is it? What is missing the mark? Or perhaps a better question is, what mark are we missing? If sin is missing a mark, that must mean that even in sinning, one is tying to hit the mark, and failing. So what mark are we trying to hit? Jesus says in John 10:10 that He, being the Good Shepherd, had come so that we might have life, and have it abundantly. If there is one thing we are all chasing after in various ways through various cultures and philosophies, is the good life. We want to have a good life. We want a life we can be proud of. We want to live well, to thrive, to feel secure and sure, both privately and publicly. When we make decisions, we are trying to make decisions that will move us toward living the good life.
When a person lies or cheats on a test, the goal is to get others to think more highly of them so that they would be given more opportunities and privileges. When a person takes revenge on another it is most often to feel a sense of justice in his or her life. If a person is stealing, he is hoping to fill a need so that his or her life can be more complete, often thinking that he or she deserves to live a better life. If a person is addicted to pornography, he is looking for a sense of power and self-worth that he doesn’t perceive having in his day-to-day life. Adam and Eve believed Satan’s deception that eating the fruit would benefit their life and draw them closer to ‘the good life.’
My descriptions of sin in the above paragraph my not be completely accurate for you personally, but thinking on your own sin, why do you do it? Is it not from a root of selfishness? And also of a lack of trust that things are going to be OK? We all have emotional and physical needs. When those needs are felt, and when we have learned that the world is often not the kindest or most predictable, place, we desire to take things into our own hands and manufacture our destinies. Our aim is the good life.
However, since the beginning, God has made us, and made us for a purpose. This is critical, because if God made us, he is the only one who can tell us what our purpose is and how it may be fulfilled. All we can do is guess. If He knows our purpose, He knows how we can live a full and good life that will feel fulfilling and complete. We who lack true understanding try to seek the good life ourselves and constantly miss the mark. And if the mark is life, missing the mark means death (Rom 6:23).
Oh pity those who never meet Jesus! No wonder Buddhism’s primary philosophy is that all life is suffering and the only way to escape suffering is to escape life! Because all attempts at the good life fail! Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:1 says ‘meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless’ without God. Without God, life is a meaningless game where we eat, drink, suffer, and die. That’s why we hear ‘life sucks,’ or ‘it is what it is.’
The good news is that Jesus, who is God and man, who is the eternal king of the universe, came in flesh to show us what the good life looks like, yet he died, bearing the weight of the consequence of our missing the mark. He the rose again, defeating death, and to offers to share the reward he receives for hitting the mark perfectly. Jesus offers us the good life if we would believe in Him and follow His example and teaching.
Many perceive Christianity as a religion packed with rules and a killjoy attitude. The opposite is true. Jesus has the words of life. When we learn who God is, we desire to give ourselves to him and rid ourselves of sin. Because following God through Jesus gives us more fulfillment, and achieves our goal: the good life. If what we desire is the good life, we desire Jesus. Seeking God to rid our hearts of sin becomes a hopeful and joyful pursuit instead of a dreadful weight of law. It is a doorway to true fulfillment and joy.
Now, someone may say that this is a selfish reason to pursue the release from sin. But I would argue thus (and only shortly for my post is already too long!): God created mankind to be in harmony and unity with Himself. It only proves logical that our most fulfilled life is one in which we serve that purpose. therefore the expulsion of sin and union with God through Jesus is the ultimate pursuit in both glorifying God and satisfying our deepest longings and needs. When we are glorifying God with all we are, we are most satisfied and fulfilled.