Great! Now we have arrived at a good working definition of sin. If you aren’t sure how we got here, I suggest that you go back and start at Part 1. By doing so, you can follow our clear and logical path, and see how we arrived at our destination: the answer to the question, “What is sin?”
But before you rush off and start cataloging your past activities, or more importantly, the motivation behind them, as sinful or not, there is one more thing to consider, in terms of defining sin.
We’ll come back to this in a moment, but first, have you ever wondered about traffic? Traffic is an interesting phenomenon. Even after we stop to consider that each vehicle carries one or more occupants who are going to work, to school, to play, or to some other destination; we realize that traffic can still appear to be a unique and constantly changing collective event, with a sense of existence and purpose all its own.
Within this environment, the general tendency of participants is to ‘go with the flow’; which usually means to travel between five and fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit, and keep pace with the cars around them. Regardless of the posted speed limit, people often make the conscious choice to keep up with traffic, rather than to obey the speed limit signs.
If you are traveling in unfamiliar territory, you may not be aware of where the speed limit signs are, and what the speed limit is. If, in this unfamiliar place you are traveling at a constant speed with the traffic around you, its likely that you are speeding. If stopped by a traffic officer, you will be held accountable for driving over the limit, whether you know what the speed limit is, or not.
This is as it should be. As fellow human beings trying to co-exist in a society, we must all be held equally accountable to the laws of that society, whether we know them or not. This is the only way that the society can maintain a sense of order. Fortunately, when it comes to God’s law, this is not the case.
The Apostle Paul actually tells us that God will only hold us accountable for those selfish motivations, and the resulting actions, which we know and understand, to be selfish. In his letter to the Romans (Chpt 4, vrs 15b), Paul writes “…where there is no law, there is no transgression.”
If you read the whole of chapter 4, of Paul’s letter to the Romans, you might conclude that in relation to the rest of this section of Paul’s letter, I have taken this small verse out of context. But whether I have taken Paul’s statement out of context or not, as a single point of fact, this statement stands on its own, whether it is included as a part of Paul’s larger message or not: “…where there is no law, there is no transgression.”
Taken in the strictest of interpretations, it might be suggested that this statement is meant to refer to people who haven’t heard of Yeshua, or His good news, or the Twelve Commandments, such as an early Neanderthal tribe or someone (even in today’s world) who hasn’t yet heard of these things.
But once again, in a New Christianity, we take the point of view that God is love! This means that as our Father, He is going to show us the same love and consideration as any good parent would show their child. A parent of a three year old wouldn’t expect their son or daughter to do their own laundry, or prepare their own meals, because the child wouldn’t have the knowledge or understanding of how to do this. Why then, would our Father hold us as being sinful, when we act out of a motivation, which we don’t know, or understand as being selfish? He doesn’t. As Paul explained, “…where there is no law, there is no transgression.” At some point, if, and when we have gained this understanding of selfishness, we will be held accountable. But the Father knows our motives, and He knows what the level of our knowledge and understanding of selfishness is; like any good parent, He will judge us accordingly.
That is why, for this last time, we must amend our definition of sin.
What is sin?
Sin is the label that we apply to all thoughts, words and actions which originate from a motivation which we know and understand to be selfish.
As we conclude this series of articles about sin, it is appropriate to go back and review what we have discovered. We’ve learned that most sin amounts to nothing more than a small error in judgement, and that once we find that we have sinned, we should confess our sins, which includes doing what we can to make the situation right again.
We’ve learned that sin is wholly unavoidable as we seek to allow the spirit of Christ to shine forth, over and above our natural tendencies to look out for ourselves.
We’ve learned that it isn’t our specific actions which prove to be sinful, as much as the motivation behind these actions, and that while we may or may not know the motivations which result in the actions of others, the Father does know these motivations, and will judge us all justly, according to our motives.
Finally, we’ve learned that our Father is a loving parent. His justice is tempered by the level of knowledge and understanding we possess, and our individual ability to know exactly what is selfish and what is not.
In a New Christianity, we acknowledge that we have all sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. However, we also understand that the nature of this sin is not as grievous as ‘the church’” would have us believe, and that because Christ has died for our sin on the cross, the Father does not condemn us to eternal damnation!
With this assurance, go, and do your best to be a good person. You know that you will occasionally make mistakes, and that’s OK. Confess your sins when you need to, accept God’s forgiveness for them, then go back to doing your best again.
This concludes our series of articles about sin.
Grace and peace to you all,