Ever heard of 'sin'? Any ideas what it means?
OK, so have you ever got really mucky? Like you were out in the rain, or the park, or the mud somewhere and you got covered in filthy mud? Or maybe you played football and got coated in mud? Some of us have been to Soul Survivor or other youth festivals where we've got muddy and a pair of wellies and jacket become essential (along with the Bible of course, ahem!)
'Mud Day' in Westland, Michigan, USA
This is quite a crazy tradition going on in Westland, Michigan and involves getting coated in mud!
Or here's a crazy youtube video - 'Mud Boarding' - https://youtu.be/rNDQb5ABIUo (link checked Dec 2017)
Inside, outside, upside, downside?
OK, so I guess we've all been muddy! But what about feeling all 'muddy' inside? We know when we've got mud on us, we can see it and often smell it. But what about feeling pretty yucky or 'muddy' inside ourselves?
Here's what I mean. You get to know someone who's not popular at all at school or college. Other people laugh at them, put them down. You say to them "yeh i'll look out for you". But when you're with the real friends you find yourself putting that person down. You feel bad, but can't help it. Ever been there? Or you steal something small. You know you shouldn't, it's got a buzz but inside you just know it's wrong. Or stuff that's worse. You feel a bit 'dirty' inside, your conscience is bugging you - and you know you've got to put things right. Do you?
Sin... Is a bit like being muddy. Except sometimes we don't feel like we're doing wrong. Trouble is the Bible tells us we've all done wrong (Romans 3.23) so 'all' probably includes you and me...
What is sin?
Sin is about doing what is wrong as the Bible tells us. The Bible also tells us that if we know we should do something but don't, that's also sin! But it's not just doing wrong things or not doing good things! Sin is a state of being. By our very human nature we are 'sinful' (full of sin). This is how Romans 7.5 describes things:
For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death
In the movie, 'Hulk' Bruce Banner finds that after an accident, whenever he becomes angry, he turns into a green monster capable of destroying everything in sight in his fury!
Inside of us, we all have this kind of capability - we can all do wrong, do evil and serious things. This is because our insides are messed up because of sin! Everything we do wrong has a consequence. So if I steal clothes from a store and get caught, I could be fined or worse and will likely get a crininal record.
Before I was a Christian I was involved in a fight with football fans from a rival club. We got away with it, but inside I was nervous in case the police had us on CCTV! Sin always has consequences, even when God forgives you. For example, you can disrespect someone behind their back, they may forgive you but they may be wary about trusting you in the future.
God cannot look on sin because he is perfect and holy. In the Old Testament, people had to get right with God through animal sacrifice and their shed blood. But man kept messing up. You see, the sinful nature of man's being is so serious that God has to deal with it seriously because he is just. So God came up with an incredible solution to save us in this life and in eternity (forever)
Matthew 25.46 - Then they (those who sin) will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life
When you do something wrong we often try to put it right. If we don't, then we should! Unresolved conflict causes loads of problems - we can even be physically ill because of it! God had the same thing with our sin. He loves us so much he had to make a way to sort out the sinful nature. The old animal sacrifice thing wasn't enough.
The problem is that there is a price to be paid. If someone is in court for an offence and they're found guilty, they have to pay a 'price'. This price may be prison or it may be a fine. The problem with sin is that the consequence is death.
Romans 6.23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Death means that when we due (which we all do), we will not be forever with Jesus in heaven, but we will be in hell - the Bible makes this very clear. Hell is a place initially reserved for satan and the evil angels, but now a place where people go because they have rejected God. God doesn't want people to go to hell, he longs for everyone to be with him. But justice demands a penalty and the penalty is death then hell. But, because God is so good, he has made a way to conquer death and be with him forever in heaven - a place so amazing and incredible it goes beyond anything you can think!
(Or find a better and suitable clip!)
So if the consequence is death, then the only way to pay for sin is by death. Jesus paid for our sins, once for all by his death. In the Old Testament they had loads of sacrifices, but Jesus gave himself up as a sacrifice once because he is pure and without sin, so he could pay the price for us.
Hebrews 7.27 - Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Romans 5.21 - so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The only way to deal with sin was for Jesus to die (and rise again, see Romans 6). But we are full of sin inside us, so what has to happen in us to deal with this sin?
God's solution for us
We're made in 3 parts (no, not like an ant!) Instead, the three parts are our bodies, our soul/mind and our spirit. To deal with sin, Jesus died on the cross. But for us to personalise what Jesus has already done, there has to be a change in us. God's solution is to 'put to death' the old sinful part of us in our spirits and 're-create' us inside. Sounds a bit painful (sometimes it is!) but it is a perfect solution. Here's what 2 Corinthians 5 has to say about it...
Verse 5 - Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Verse 17- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Verse 21 - God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So God changes us on the inside, sealing us with his Holy Spirit (a kind of 'downpayment' for what is to come in eternity!) God changes our spirit by giving us his Holy Spirit. It doesn't mean we are perfect completely (only our spirit is re-created new), God works on the rest of us for the rest of our life to 'work out' what God has put inside us. But when God changes us, we are completely new, like this butterfly clip... (The only way we truly get to live and 'fly' is by God's change in us)
The Reward of accepting Jesus and turning from sin
Here are just some promises from God...
John 10.10 (Amplified) - The thief (satan) comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).
Romans 8.32 - He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
1 Timothy 6.17 (Amplified) - (do not) set (your) hopes on uncertain riches, but on God, Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for [our] enjoyment.
For those who like maths, here's the 'equation' in simple terms...
Sin = death
Jesus = life
The choice is yours. But choose well and think hard - following Jesus has a cost as well as a reward. It will change your life forever.
Will you pray today and ask God to come into your heart and clean the sin out and replace it with his Holy Spirit?
Or if you’re a Christian, get your mind and heart right with God by asking God to reveal any sin and saying sorry to him.
Take action today and be changed for the best !!