Talking about sin is not popular in our culture. At the very core is a belief that all man are good. It is rooted in a thought popularized by a man named Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau was a French philosopher during the 1700’s. He was convinced that man is naturally good and that vice and error are alien to mankind. This has been adopted by our culture and is the underling lie threatening our societies promotion of relative absolutes: if it’s good for me, and I don’t harm anyone, what’s wrong with it—don’t force your morals on me.
But the Bible says that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10)
What is sin? All great revivals in the past have come as a result of a fresh revealing of what sin is and the depths that we all have sunk into it. Pastor Tim Keller writes:
“John Newton says…we sin not simply out of a rebellious desire to be our own masters, but also because we are looking to things besides God to satisfy and fulfill us. While Newton was good at pointing out the danger of having too low or light a view of one’s sin, he was also good at pointing out the opposite problem—too light a grasp of what Jesus has done for us. Newton wrote to a man who was discouraged:
‘You say, you find it hard to believe it [is] compatible with the divine purity to embrace or employ such a monster as yourself. [In thinking this, you] express not only a low opinion of yourself, which is right, but too low an opinion of the person, work, and promises of the Redeemer; which is certainly wrong. . . . Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. He sometimes offers to teach us humility; but though I wish to be humble, I desire not to learn in this school. His premises perhaps are true, that we are vile, wretched creatures—but he then draws abominable conclusions from them; and would teach us, that, therefore, we ought to question either the power, or the willingness, or the faithfulness of Christ. Indeed, though our complaints are good, so far as they spring from a dislike of sin; yet, when we come to examine them closely, there is often so much self-will, self-righteousness, unbelief, pride, and impatience mingled with them, that they are little better than the worst evils we can complain of. . . . You have not, you cannot have, anything in the sight of God, but what you derive from the righteousness and atonement of Jesus. If you could keep him more constantly in view, you would be more comfortable. He would be more honored. . . . Let us pray that we may be enabled to follow the apostle’s, or rather the Lord’s command by him, Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice. We have little to rejoice in ourselves, but we have right and reason to rejoice in him.’”1
And what is God’s response when we confess our sins? “He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:9) And “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
1. “Letter XI, to the Rev. Mr. S.,” Works of John Newton, Vol. 6, 185-187