July 9th 2010

Whose Sin Is It Anyway?

“…Sin entered the world through one man, and death came to all men, because all sinned.”

Romans 5:12 (NIV)
People who are relatively new to Christian teaching sometimes ask what “sin” is. To be defined as “sinners” seems like a guilt-inducing accusation without real context. If what we have done through life can largely be explained away in terms of nature, nurture and chance, how can we blame ourselves?

We’ve all met people with deeply messed-up lives, who even with help and support seem unable to take any meaningful steps to extricate themselves from their troubles. Maybe many of us have been tempted to feel some blame, especially if we can see problems affecting the welfare and future of the younger generation. Whether we call it sin, iniquity, guilt or moral helplessness, something—some state of un-wholeness or unwholesomeness—seems to carry down from one generation to another until God enters the picture.

So maybe, on closer knowledge of personal and family history, blame gives way to a more compassionate sense of how nearly inevitable such failings must have been. Perhaps it is someone else’s fault because of the neglect, abuses and poor role modelling handed down a generation ago and more. 

Whether it is nature, nurture or a combination of the two it seems a path is laid out for us.  For some this path leads to a life of trouble and woe.

Personal effort, help, advice and support can, of course, improve the outlook for many kinds of problems, but ultimately (Romans 7:25, The Message), “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does [save us from the power of sin]. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”

There is only one way to get out of the cycle altogether, and that is by the mercy of God to sinners.

Holy God, we depend on your mercy to us as sinners. Thank you for Jesus, who set us free from sin; and please cleanse our lives in every way.

Study by Fiona Jones 
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