Making Biblical Decisions: Our Sin Problem (October 27, 2023)

They lived in absolute perfection. God placed these two perfect beings into the garden to care for it and enjoy its bounty at creation. Each day, they experienced the pleasure of walking with God and communing with Him. They never got sick, they never experienced pain, and they never suffered. God placed only one restriction on them. They could eat from the hundreds (if not thousands) of trees in the garden but one. “Just one no amid a thousand yeses!”[1] They could enjoy the delicious harvest of every tree. But the tantalizing fruit of the one tree from which they were restricted led to their downfall. On that day, which started perfect, Satan entered into the serpent and implanted questions about God into the minds of these two perfect beings. Satan asked, “Did God actually say?” (Genesis 3:1, ESV). And when Adam and Eve began to entertain the question, they started down a path that led to death. Discontent with all God provided, they sought their version of pleasure (to be like God) and found it perverted.

Today, Satan rehashes the same old argument. Sin, our flesh, and the Devil cause us to question God’s words and commands as we seek our version of pleasure, ideas, and satisfaction. We claim that we love God and seek Him above all things. But Kevin DeYoung poignantly notes that the hole in our holiness is that we don’t want to be holy.[2] Amidst the thousands of yeses God gives us, we fixate on the no. We determine that God’s way might be best for Him but is really not best for us. As a result, we seek ways to justify our words, actions, and attitudes while downplaying sin. Many recognize the blatant examples as professing Christians ask the same satanic question about dogmatic moral issues. Did God actually say that homosexuality is a sin? Did God actually say there are only two fixed genders? However, we tend to miss how we ask the satanic question in our lives.

As we seek to make biblical decisions, we must begin by questioning the most basic assumption: that we make godly decisions. Our world tells us to follow our hearts and live our truth. However, we fail to understand that the truth of our hearts is a dangerous thing on which to rely. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). Because we cannot trust our hearts, we must begin our decision-making process with the question, “Is this sin?” Biblical decisions and sin stand at odds with one another. So, we cannot sin and consider our decisions right.

Further, we cannot assume we hold the correct view of sin. Instead, we must think again about what exactly constitutes sin. Scripture informs us that sin is anything that violates God’s Law (1 John 3:4). Since God’s Law is based on God’s character, sin is a violation of God’s character (Romans 3:23). Thus, all sins are acts against God (Psalm 51:4). So, a good definition of sin is that sin is anything in man that does not express or is contrary to God’s holy character. An essential aspect of this definition can be found in the determiner of sin. Man does not determine what is and what is not sin. Our traditions, proclivities, desires, and ideas do not determine what is and is not sin. The definition of sin is rooted in God’s person and purposes. He decides what is and is not sin. We are blessed in that God has clearly enumerated these things for us in His Word. Therefore, we must ask of each decision, “Is this sin?” and seek the answer in God’s Word.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in our lives with sin is that we do not take sin seriously. We have bought into the message of society that sin is not sin. Instead, sin is a mistake, illness, lifestyle choice, personality characteristic, or quirk. As we buy into these alternate definitions, we downplay sin’s seriousness. As Adam and Eve held the tantalizing fruit in their hands, their only thoughts were the godlike characteristics they believed the fruit would bestow on them. Even after they ate and the juices trickled down their chin, they attempted to downplay their sin. Adam claimed it was not that big of an issue and that it was Eve’s problem. Eve pointed to the serpent. And both Adam and Eve excused their sin. And from these parents, we have inherited the proclivity to downplay and overlook our sinfulness.

Yet, in that exact moment of confrontation regarding the first sin, we receive a picture of sin’s seriousness. This picture is not found in their expulsion from the garden (as awful as that was). Instead, we see the picture in the proclamation of the curse. Our lives would now be lives of suffering, resulting in death. Only one solution existed: the woman’s Seed must crush the serpent’s head. In this wordplay, God painted the path to eternal redemption. God would become flesh and crush sin by becoming sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Think about this for a moment. The only solution to sin was for the Son of God to die in our place. We could not work our way out of sin. We could not will our way out of sin. Only the Son of God’s death could defeat sin. “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). It took something far greater than we could ever offer to redeem us. It took the blood of our Incorruptible Lord: a perfectly pure sacrifice. As God, He had no sin, no fault, and no blame. Sin is such a massive problem that only the perfect sacrifice of God’s Son could correct it. Yet, we regularly and willingly rebel against God and demand our way. We act as though Christ’s sacrifice does not matter.

In Romans 6, Paul presents the reality that Christians must delight in saying no to sin. Through Christ’s death, we died to sin. Placing our faith in Christ’s vicarious death results in the freedom to say “no” to sin. How, then, can we continue sinning willfully? At salvation, God immersed us in Christ. We are said to be placed in Christ. This means that Christ, as our representative, is joined to us, and we are to Him. Like water surrounding the person in baptism, the believer is wholly immersed in Christ. This can be said because Romans 6:6 informs us that our sin nature was crucified with Christ. It was put to death. This truth does not mean that we no longer sin. Instead, this means that we do not live in a habitual pattern of sin. There is no category of a believer who regularly and unrepentantly waves the white flag to sin. That person is an unbeliever. Instead, as believers, we seek to please God and refrain from sin. As a result, we no longer live for ourselves. We now live for God. All that we have belongs to God. And we discover that what God says is best is actually best for us. So, we must ask of every decision, “Is it sin?”

[1] Erwin W. Lutzer, God’s Devil: The Incredible Story of How Satan’s Rebellion Serves God’s Purposes (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2015), 50.

[2] Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2012), 10.