Here is a challenge. During the next seven days’ pay careful attention to the news stories you see on TV and hear on the radio. I know it’s hard to stomach. You will hear about every conceivable crime for A to Z: adultery to the zeal of terrorist. Make a note of how many of these behaviors are called sin. Unless you have strayed into a so-called “Christian news” program, I venture to say you will not hear the word sin mentioned; and even the “Christian News” programs will rarely use the word sin. Sin is not a politically correct word.
Years ago when I was doing graduate working in counseling, based on a biblical perspective, one of the textbooks I was required to read was Dr. Karl Menninger book, “Whatever Became of Sin? This book written in the early ‘70s by a psychiatrist is still relevant today: “Whatever Became of Sin?” In my opinion, is more relevant today than when it was written. Why? Because sin has been relegated to the “no longer relevant trash ben” of modernism.
Notice the shamelessness of dress, language, behavior, gestures, and more that is paraded across the television screen and local theater screens. We are living in an age when immunity is being developed against any thought or mention of sin. Popular books on the best seller list are immoral, when compared to Gods standards, yet they are consumed by the millions; even by Christians. Children are lured into satanic and cultic books and movies because they are popular and “everybody” is reading and seeing them.
Some of the most popular televangelist have attracted their mega crowds, both in their assemblies and viewing audiences because they never talk about sin. One popular TV preacher affirmed that the only sin mankind is guilty of is low self-esteem. This has created so-called sermons and teachings, along with books, on self-help being the solution to all our problems. Just “think positively” and realize “you can be anything you desire.” And on yes, God wants you to prosper and be rich. The key being financially supporting the preacher and his ministry.
Dr. Menninger, who wrote from a non-biblical or theological perspective, is more relevant today than he was when he penned it. Sadly, there are a few media preachers, and congregational preachers, who preach a watered down version of the biblical doctrine of sin. The theology behind the doctrine of sin is weak and permissive. Is there any hope that the church will recover the biblical truth about sin? Is there any hope that this generation of preachers will expose sin for what it is?
One of the major influences on reducing sin to a tepid existence or a non-existence, is the relabeling of sin. Drunkenness and alcoholism is now a “disease.” Homosexuality is now only a lifestyle choice. Abortion is simply the termination of an undesired pregnancy. Adultery is a mistake based on irresistible circumstances. Marriage to a same-sex partner in only an expression of love. Divorce is acknowledging that differences exist and cannot be resolved. Gambling is an over-extension of a desire to be wealthy and successful. Viewing pornography is nothing more than an appreciation for art and the human anatomy doing what is natural. Doing drugs for a high is a way of reducing stress. Relabeling is a national pastime.
In the midst of all this relabeling and renaming, we must remember “That a rose by any other name is still a rose.” Changing the name and definition of a sinful behavior doesn’t change the truth—sin is still sin. God has not given His approval for relabeling and renaming sin so that it will eventually be acceptable, forgotten, and cease to exist in human vocabulary and hang-ups.
I find it amazing but at the same time ironic, that the news media will give prime coverage to signs and advances in cancer research; as well as raise billions of dollars for research and treatment, which I am thankful for, but they will not give a sentence to the most deadly foe of mankind and that is sin. Sin not only has temporal consequences in time but also eternal consequences.
Isaiah spoke in a clarion voice about the consequence of sin: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that He cannot save; nor His ear heavy that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1, 2). Imagine being separated from God forever and ever!
Jesus sealed the fate of those who did not believe in Him and died in their sins. They could not go to heaven if they died in their sins (cf. John 8:21-30).
How do we feel when we see or hear someone making light of cancer? How about when we hear negative remarks about cancer? I would be upset and wonder what was wrong with someone who would belittle cancer. Here is how Solomon describes a person who takes sin lightly: “Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor” (Proverbs 14:9). The Hebrew word Solomon used for fool is luts and refers to a mocking or making fun of something or someone; to scorn.
Whatever happened to sin? Solomon tells us what has happened to sin in the lives of some people: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). The Hebrew word for cover is kacah and means “to cover, to conceal, to hide”. This is what Achan tried to do when he hide forbidden spoils of war, which caused him to lose his life (cf. Joshua 7:16-26).
I know a lady who tried to cover up a skin cancer on her face with makeup. It didn’t work. In time it turned into a very deadly form of cancer that finally took her life. Trying to ignore, minimize, deny, belittle, justify, forget and relabel sin will not take it away. If we do not deal honestly and biblically with sin problems they will not go away. They will only fester, and will always come back sooner or later to expose and harm us: “… be sure your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32:23); in the judgment ( ).
If we are not honest about the reality of sin in the world, in our lives, and in the church, forgiveness will not occur. A line in a popular hymn asks “What can wash away my sins?” The answer is quickly given “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” This is why Jesus commanded “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
The apostle John reminds us about the continual challenge of sin in our lives: “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” (1 John 1:8, 9). The blood of Christ, not self-help or pop psychology, can take away our sins (cf. Matthew 26:28). Cancer denied will not go away, and neither will relabeled sin.
Whatever happened to sin? Prayerfully for each Christian and the church “it is not crouching at our door”