This article continues our series on how to share the gospel so far we’ve established that because God is our creator, our owner, we are accountable to follow his instructions for a life centered on Him. We are to love God perfectly and love others completely. And we’re to do this both in our actions and in our attitudes. Yet we are incapable of reaching God’s standards. And in this article, we’re going to look at what we do instead.
What is Sin?
When we don’t live life in a manner that is pleasing to God, when we are not living life in a God-centered way, we are living it in a self-centered way. And any time we disobey God when we disobey God in our mind or our actions, this is called sin.
Failing to obey and to love God is sin. And what do we know about sin? Sin separates us from God because God is perfect and Holy and Righteous. Even one sin separates us completely from God.
Sin separates us from God and our relationship with God is broken. And now there is a huge gap and we’re unable to please God and change for the better. We all try in some way to please God by trying to “do”.
Ways we try to Please God
We try and please God by doing good, and end up failing. We try and please God, by starting to do religious things, by going to church, by reading our Bibles, by praying, but in of themselves, none of these things are powerful enough to save us because it’s something we are trying to do and we fall way short. We do not do these things perfectly. And so not only do we start trying to do the right things, but we also try and stop doing the wrong things.
But ultimately we fall way short. We can never do enough to be made right with God. There’s nothing that we can do in our own power, in our own strength that will give us even a glimmer of hope into making our relationship right with God.
It’s not just that we sin but that we have a sinful nature. In and of ourselves have a sinful nature. And in our lives, God requires perfect obedience, Romans 3:20 says this “for by works of the law, no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.:”
Romans 3:20 teaches us that there is nothing that we can do to be justified in God’s sight. “For by works of the law, no human being will be justified in his sight.” There’s nothing we can do. And later on in the Book of Romans at the end of Chapter 14:23, Paul says that anything that does not proceed from faith is sin.
So even the good we try and do is sin if it’s not rooted in faith in God. It’s not that we’re just people who commit sinful acts, but it’s that in our very nature. We are sinful. And so when we remove God from his rightful place at the center of our lives, other things rush in to fill that center. And that center becomes and is defined as selfishness.
When God is not at the center of our lives, when we are not living a life of God-centered living, we are living a life of selfishness. And so, again, as a reminder, point one since God made you, you belong to Him and are accountable to follow his instructions for a relationship of love centered on him. This is point two, rules for God-centered living of perfect love for God and others shows us that God’s requirements measure all our actions and attitudes.
And point three, having become self-centered you are separated from God, unable to earn forgiveness, addicted to your desires, experiencing guilt, and headed down the road to a hopeless eternity in our very nature. On our own, we have a hopeless eternity. And what we’ve been trying to share over the past few weeks and what I hope that we can all see is when we redefine the biblical God, we can deny the seriousness of sin.
Because we have an incorrect picture of what our sinful nature is in our evangelism, when we remind people who God is, we rightly show them who they are. Both in terms of their significance and in terms of the horror of their sinfulness. Will Metzger writes “we as human beings, people must come to a right understanding of God. And in a right understanding of God, we get a right understanding of our sinful nature.”
Conviction of Sin
And with a right understanding of our sinful nature that affects us, we’re going to have a conviction of sin.” In Psalm 51 we have a depiction of confession, of penitence, of what does it mean to truly be convicted of sin, and this is what is so important for people when we’re sharing the gospel, people must have a right understanding, a true conviction of sin.
It’s not that they just have to intellectually come to a knowledge of the truth and believe that truth, even the demons believe the truths about who God is and even their own sinful nature. But they have to be convicted, we have to be convicted of our sin.
This is a Psalm of David where he confesses his sin before God. He has been confronted by Samuel in his sin. So David is made aware of his sin and David is showing a picture of what it means to be penitent, what it means to be repentant. What does it truly mean to be convicted of sin? J.I. Packer helpfully sums the conviction of sin up from Psalm 51 with three points.
Awareness of a Wrong Relationship With God
Number one, we have to have an awareness of a wrong relationship with God.
We see this right off the bat, in Psalm 51:1 “have mercy on me. Oh, God. According to your steadfast love.” There is a direct acknowledgment that David is in a wrong relationship with God, he needs mercy from God, and so in our conviction of sin, the true conviction of sin has an awareness of a wrong relationship with God, not just with self or others or a general sense of need, but a specific need of reconciliation with God. We see this also in verse four when David says “against you, God against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”
So a true conviction of sin is based on awareness of a wrong relationship with God.
Acknowledge Particular Sins Against God
Second, the conviction of sin senses our guilt for particular wrongs, a sense in the mind of certain things that we have done that is sinning against God. In verse three, “For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.” We need to see sin for what it is. We need to acknowledge our sin, the things that we have done.
Acknowledge our Sinful Nature
This third point is one of the missing elements in a lot of evangelicalism, and that is it’s not just acknowledgment of our sin, but it’s an acknowledgment of our sinfulness, our sinful nature.
So we have an awareness of a wrong relationship with God, a conviction of sins. And also, thirdly, a conviction of sinfulness, a sense of helplessness to do right, and the consequent need of a new heart, a rebirth. Any goodness that we can try to claim is not inherent, but it’s purely derived from God. Our righteousness is not good enough, either qualitatively or quantitatively. David says in verse five, “behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me?”
And then in verse 10, this is really the turning point, “create in me a clean heart. Oh, God”, David gets to the heart of the matter. He gets down all the way to the innermost part of his being that he needs a new heart. There’s nothing that he can do in his own power to be made right with God. He needs a new heart, and we without Christ and people in the world without Christ, need new hearts.
And we need a right spirit within us, and so a true conviction of sin is awareness of a wrong relationship with God, a conviction of sins, and a conviction of sinfulness. And that wraps up tonight’s lesson on what sin is.
Sin is self-centered living. The third point is having become self-centered, you are separated from God, unable to earn forgiveness, addicted to your desires, experiencing guilt, and headed down the road to a hopeless eternity.