Sin is a word that we just don's use all that much outside of church. Sin is a harsh, biting word. We hesitate to use it unless we mean business and want to cut deep and make our point. Sin is always bad—we know that. More often than not, we just avoid the word. We call things mistakes, errors, problems, faults. We hesitate to use the word sin even when it is the right word. But when is it the right word to use?
In a way, it is always the right word to use. Romans 3:23 says, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Isaiah even says that "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." (Isa 64:6) If everyone sins, and even the best that we have to offer is like a filthy rag, then everything we do must be sinful. This can make us uncomfortable, to be sure. No one wants to be told that the best they have to offer is still sinful. But we know it to be true, don't we? All we have to do is lift our eyes and look at the world around us and we can see that sin infects everything. Wars, famines, diseases, corruption, injustice, and senseless violence just begin the list of tragedy that we look at on a daily basis. And these have the same root cause: sin. Sin makes everything worse.
But it gets worse. Sin not only gets between us and other people, but it gets between us and God. "Your iniquities have separated you from your God" (Isa 59:2). Jesus commands us to "be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt 5:48). We have missed that mark miserably. The result is terrifying: "the wages of sin is death." (Rom 6:23) Our separation from God is not hypothetical, not temporary, not menial. Our punishment is eternal death in the fires of hell. The worst part? There is nothing that we can do about it. Paul describes us as dead in our transgressions (Eph 2:1). There is nothing that a corpse can do to change its state.
This is not the end, though. This is just the beginning. We must understand our full depravity before we can even recognize our need for help. But we do need help, and desperately. That is what the next article will cover as we think about the second key concept: grace.