How sinful is sin? We read phrases like, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and nod in assent — “sure, we’ve sinned.” But we generally fail to recognize and affirm the horrid and disastrous nature of those words.
That oft quoted verse refers to our acts of sin. But it also refers to the state of sin (our sin nature) fueling our sinful acts. To gain a broader perspective of the nature of sin, we can consider the definitions of the various words the Scriptures use to describe our sin —
- Sin is a blasphemous insult against God (putting self in His place by flouting His commands).
- Sin is a deceitful lie, promising that which it cannot provide.
- Sin is an illicit, self-gratifying desire for something that cannot satisfy.
- Sin is lawlessness that seeks the removal of all restraints.
- Sin is unrighteousness that refuses its duty to God and men.
- Sin is an acceptance of the world’s standards above the standards and protection of God.
- Sin is to “miss the mark” — we’ve failed to hit the bull’s-eye demand of God’s righteousness (Mt. 5:48).
- The essence of all sin is to not glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31) and not love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And it is not just that we have failed to glorify him on occasion in the past, but we even now, constantly, fail to glorify Him.
One novelist summarized our sinfulness well when he acknowledged, “I do not know what the heart of a bad man is like, but I do know that the heart of a good man is like, and it is terrible.”
How sinful is sin? It is desperately, terribly, and horribly sinful — far beyond our imagination. And it is from this sinfulness that Christ’s blood forgives, frees, and redeems us.