by Dan Phillips
Non-Christians are baffled by what seems to be the Christian obsession with “sin.” To the non-Christian, “sin” often means “unauthorized fun,” or “fun that breaks some dumb rule,” or “fun that I don't want to have,” or “fun that I really do want to have, but my religion says I shouldn't, so I don't want anyone else to have it, either!”
But it is the conviction of most of the non-religious that sin is not that big of a deal. In fact, sin isn't really bad. I mean, think of our language: if something is better than just good, we say that it is sinfully good.
Sin is just some stupid rule. Stupid rules should never stand in the way of fun, of happiness, of joy, of self-fulfillment, of a life of freedom and self-realization. A hundred movies, a thousand TV episodes, tell tale after tale of some poor noble soul oppressed by joyless, loveless, graceless, dour, dessicated, usually hypocritical religionists.
The problem with this line of thought is that it starts off with a wrong step, and never corrects course.
The way the world thinks about sin starts with the assumption that man is the measure of all things. Whether the talk is of “enlightened self-interest,” or the heart's best impulses, or the “angels of our better nature,” or what-have-you, the assumption is that man is both alpha and omega. Maybe an individual man, or maybe the human consensus of an enlightened society — but the assumption is that morality bubbles up from within. It can be divined by a poll, which often turns out to be a poll of one.
The problem with that is that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). You see, with its very first words, the Bible turns our thinking on its head. We don't define our universe. We don't create meaning. We come into a universe already created, already defined, with already-assigned values and borders and lines and definitions.
Were that not true, then common thinking is correct: man is both alpha and omega. However, since it is not true, neither is man-centered thought true. Before the whirl of the first atom, God existed: self-sufficient, self-delighted, the font of all perfection. When He created, He created. All things are His things. All creatures are His creatures. He owns, possesses, has rights over all things.
Including you, whoever you are.
You may pound your chest and insist you're an atheist. God overrides your vote. God exists in defiance of your notions. God owns you. You will answer to Him one day, for every thought, action and word.
Or you may be a religionist, a relativist, a post-modernist, or a nothingist. No matter. Those are all labels applicable to you, and they are all irrelevant to reality.
In reality, God is the center of the universe. He is its source, its creator, its owner, and its definer.
Sin is my refusal to deal with reality — specifically, with the game-changing reality of God. Sin is my insistence on being self-defining (as if there were no God), self-ruling (as if there were no God), self-pleasing (as if there were no God). In fact, sin is living as if there were no God. It makes me the opposite of the real Jesus Christ; it makes me an anti-christ.
In fact, sin is the desire that there be no God. Sin sees God as the great obstacle. Sin wishes there to be no such obstacle. Therefore, sin wishes there to be no such God as the God of the Bible. Therefore sin is, at heart, a desire to murder God; and all sin is attempted Deicide.
All of which is simply to say: to me, I am God.
Which is a very, very old lie. Because, you see, the thing is: you aren't. God is.
And that's what makes sin a big deal.