The topic of ‘sin’ can be unappealing because it is not enjoyable to think about and is so unflattering to us. Nevertheless, it is critical because it speaks to our perspectives on God, ourselves, the world around us, and the need for salvation based on God’s grace alone.
Sin is whatever is contrary to God. He is perfect holiness; sin is anything that deviates in any way (see Romans 3 v23).
God created us in His image to reflect His glory. However, due to sin, we can no longer perfectly or adequately do that. The divine mirrors that we were created to be have been distorted by sin.
A fundamental truth about sin is that it is first and foremost something that happens inside us and only secondarily something we do on the outside (see Matthew 15 vv18-19, 21-22, 27-28).
The biblical emphasis is not we are sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we are sinners. It all begins with what the Bible calls our sinful nature. My problem is not my sin; my problem is me! It is fundamentally who I am, not what I do. I have an inclination, a propensity, a default setting for sin.
It is possible for God to assess ‘good’ things as evil. Jesus strongly condemned the Pharisees for giving money to the poor, praying and fasting – good things in themselves – because their motives were corrupt (see Matthew 6 vv 1-2, 5, 16-17, Romans 1 v 21, 14 v 23).
Sinful acts are not only bad things we do, but also things we do not do (see James 4 v 17).
This is part of the answer to the question, ‘Why does a person need to be saved?’ Through Jesus Christ, God has addressed all these results of sin and solved all of sin’s problems, and he has done it for free!
Taken and condensed from Understanding Theology by Daryl Aaron.