I have previously argued for the idea that we are all sinners; sinners in that we do not pay the attention we should to the moral law. We want to obey the moral law when we wish (like in giving away one apple when we have three apples and a hungry neighbor), but do what we wish at other times (like copying someone’s math homework instead of taking the time to do it ourselves). In other words, we want to do as we wish – a very different thing from being subject to the law. If you’re still not convinced, imagine that the penalties for plagiarism were abolished and proctors we removed from examination halls. What percentage of the students will act honestly? I was once in a class of about 170 students who took an exam where the proctors did nothing to stop cheating. I was the only person I know who refused to participate.
Why does it Matter?
Everyone sins, but most people are not in anguish about it. I’ve met people who freely admit to having stolen, but they say it calmly and not with the severity one should use in admitting to breaking a law. If you press them, you get things like ‘well, it’s not that bad. It’s not like I killed anyone.’ Or sometimes they admit that it was a terrible thing, but don’t seem all that moved, like the man who’s lived in a filthy house for so long, he doesn’t even notice that it’s dirty. My purpose here is not to imbue anyone with a deep sense of sorrow for their sins (though that would not be unwelcome), but to explain, in the academic sense, the effects of sin.
Sin Hurts Us
Have you ever been hurt? Who was it that hurt you and what did they do? For some people, it was a murderer, or a thief, or a rapist. But those people are in the minority. Most people have never been raped, or murdered (obviously) or had a close relative murdered. But they have been hurt by people. What hurt them? Here are a few examples
The elementary school kid who classmates call her fat.
The boy whose father never spends time with him.
The woman who found that her husband had gambled away his earnings.
The man whose wife is pregnant by another woman.
The teenager who is abandoned by the father of her baby.
The person who cut in front of you in a line and made you late.
The teammate who failed to turn in your work and cost you a good grade.
In fact, the majority of us are hurt by the people around us, not Hitler, or Stalin or big business. I’ve been hurt more by my brother’s refusal to help with chores than I have been hurt by big business or Hitler. We are hurt by the little things they justify to themselves: the lies, the theft, the looks, the words and the actions. They are not violent, but they are hurtful. Yes, lies too. Dishonesty can destroy a marriage, unleashing suffering on an entire family.
Sin has no Place in a Peaceful World
If we are to live happy and healthy, we can’t have families (or anybody at all) being hurt by lies, or cruel words or actions even if those actions are not violent. In short, laws exist to protect us. So, anyone who wishes to do as they wish, to obey the law only when they wish to, instead of submitting to it, puts us in as much danger as the person who runs a red light. Laws are necessary for peace. Lawbreakers are not.
So, imagine that heaven is going to be a peaceful place, with no sorrow or pain. God would have to take away diseases, but he’ll have to take away bullies and dishonest people too. Dishonesty, after all, breeds disunity and heartbreak. So, if God decided to get rid of the murderers, rapists, bullies, insensitive people and liars, would you make it into heaven?
- Sunday Message: Sin (ferlans.wordpress.com)