At first I thought it was a pimple. A couple of days later when the swelling began, I speculated, maybe a poisonous spider bite? All of this was going on inside my nose, so it was hard to get a good look. I finally went to the doctor and learned that I had an ingrown hair that had abscessed. It was infected, swollen, and very painful. Gross!
Sin can be similar. Often we treat symptoms, trying to stop a compulsive behavior or simply band-aiding the issue, hoping that no one else will see it. Even worse, we ignore it and hope it will go away. Sin will infect us, people we know, and have devastating consequences when it’s not treated properly. Oh, we like to compare ourselves to others and say that we don’t struggle with any of the big sins. Haven’t murdered anyone today? Check. No adultery, check. We seem to be comfortable rating our sins, considering some worse than others. God however, is holy and sinless. Which means that any sin, no matter what degree we measure it, is contrary to the nature of our holy God. So what is sin? Wayne Grudem, professor and theologian, defines it this way in his book Bible Doctrine: Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.
We measure sin in degrees of small, almost undetectable blips on the radar screen, all the way to murder and other heinous crimes. Maybe we barely notice or don’t bother confessing the ones we consider necessary, like a criticism or a small lie because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Scripture clearly tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That means not one of us is found pure and free from guilt in God’s eyes. It’s true that some sins affect us and those around us in varying degrees. There are sins that have catastrophic, outwardly seen consequences, while others go completely unseen, and no one but us may ever know about them.
I want the healthy habit of frequently doing as the Psalmist, who said that when you are on your beds, search your heart and be silent. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and purify us from all unrighteousness. This is a great thing because the wages, or what I’ve earned from my sin, is death, which is eternal separation from God. One issue with unconfessed and unrecognized sin is that it fools us into thinking that we’re really okay, we’re pretty good people, and that can lead to independence from God. When we get into the mindset that we don’t desperately need a Savior, we’re in big trouble!
Wayne Grudem does a great job of explaining the doctrine of sin in his book Bible Doctrine. (link below)