Sin is far worse than we think it is

Sin is far worse than we think it is

When Christians think about sin, often it is in the context of our sins being forgiven. We know that we are sinners and that we do all kinds of things that disobey God, some of them unknowingly and some of them intentionally. But we have been forgiven for our sins, right? Jesus died for our sins in our place, our debt is paid, and we are free. That is great news and foundational to what it means to be Christian. With the knowledge that our sins are forgiven, and that we have been shown such grace, we can start to think that sin is not really that bad. After all, if I make a mistake, Jesus will forgive me, right?

Yet, in places like Matthew 18, Jesus says very harsh things about sin. Here’s a brief excerpt:

8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Matt. 18:8-9 ESV)

This is part of the great community chapter of Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus is speaking to his disciples. Yes, that’s right: these harsh words about dealing with sin are directed at those who already trust in Jesus. Sin remains a threat to Christians and it is something that requires harsh treatment to deal with and resist.

Why is Jesus’ language so harsh? Think about the logic of the gospel. Sin is so bad that Jesus came to earth to die to pay for it. This is no trifling, insignificant matter. It might be simple to fall back on the idea that we are forgiven; we must never forget that our forgiveness was bought at a massive cost.

Christians show that they have understood this logic of sin and the gospel by doing all they can to resist temptation and deal with the sin in our lives. Think of it like eating fast food. We all know that a diet made up of mainly fast food is bad for us. We see advertising warning us of toxic fat and heart disease and all kinds of nasty things that are connected with a diet of fast food. Yet many of us still eat a fair bit of fast food. Why? Because convenience and taste, in reality, trump our belief that it is bad for us. We don’t really believe how bad it is, hence we keep on eating it. If we understood how bad sin really was, rather than simply caving in and relying on God to forgive us, we would recoil from it in horror.

So next time you’re tempted to sin, to fall into the sinful patterns all of us have in some parts of our lives, tell yourself this: sin is serious. Sin cost the life of the Son of God. Sin will eat away at us and enslave us, and the short-term reward from sin will not be worth the long-term impact on our faith. Run from sin and never take it lightly. Sin is far worse than any of us think it is.