We must define sin by what the Bible says it is, not by what the society around us says is okay.
— Pastor Tri Robinson
I received a comment this week that said: “Forget about the bible, that old and irrelevant book, and find peace in deep empathy and compassion. Forget about religion, seek inner truth and spirituality.” The problem here is that if we don’t have a source of absolute Truth, if everything is relative and up to the individual to decide (up to the inner person), there can be no peace, no deep empathy or compassion because everybody is deciding what is right by their own criteria. And, as a side note, I would venture to say that anyone who calls the Bible an “old and irrelevant book” has never read it from cover to cover and has never taken the risk of letting God reveal truth about it.
I’ve always said that we shouldn’t be surprised when the ungodly act like the ungodly. If someone doesn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, why should we expect them to obey Him and to live as He told us to live (loving God and loving our neighbors)? We can be horrified and sorrowful about what we see in our society today and we can hope to influence it for the better, but we shouldn’t be surprised that it is sick and dying.
What is more heartbreaking to me is that all too often the godly, those who profess to know Jesus as Lord, act like the ungodly. When a person truly comes to Christ, there is instantaneous salvation. But sanctification, becoming more and more Christ-like, is a process. Yes, it takes time, but we should be able to see the results of a changed life. If we can’t, if the person continues to “practice” sin, then examination is in order. More importantly, repentance is in order.
So what is the Biblical definition of sin? Here is one from The Message paraphrase:
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21)
I want a better way of living. I want to live God’s way. So what happens when I refuse to practice sin, when I follow absolute truth instead? The Bible (a very relevant and “new every morning” kind of book) tells me that, too.
He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard — things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (Galatians 5:22-23, Msg)
Our society today tries to tell me that things are okay because “everybody does it.” But that doesn’t make it okay. It’s only okay if God says it’s okay. There is absolute Truth, and there is an absolute Authority. Like it or not.
So, I won’t be surprised when unbelievers write to me and say, “Forget the Bible.” After all, they simply cannot understand because their spiritual eyes are blinded. And I won’t be surprised when the ungodly act like the ungodly. No, I won’t be surprised. But I will pray for them. Whether they like it or not.
In the grip of His grace,