The Christian Worldview on Sin
1 John 1:5-10 is a letter from the Apostle John, the last living apostle. Biblical scholars believe this was written 30 years after Paul’s death, when John is about 90. He wrote is because the apostle saw the church falling into all kinds of heresy and disarray. The early church and the Gospel had spread, the church was maturing, and believers were maturing. But sadly, John has to confront a problem among these mature believers.
The problem that Apostle John speaks about is pretending we’re perfect and forgetting need for Jesus Christ. John says it over and over in today’s passage – we lie, we deceive ourselves, and we walk in darkness. We do this by pretending we don’t have sin, by pretending we’re perfect.
It was a common problem back then in the church, it’s a common problem in today’s church, in world. In fact, I sometimes think that technology exacerbates this problem. Many people notice the disconnect between our Facebook-self and real self. We post as if life is perfect outwardly, but our real daily lives are full of struggles and depression
One of the main issues with pastor’s families have is that the pastor act one way in front of others, another way home. Now to certain degree, we all have this, it can’t be helped, but to have a drastic difference between two. Family can easily see an inauthentic person and that’s when trouble happens
Whether it’s pastors or all believers, the inauthentic dichotomy between outward perfect self vs real self is what Apostle John is speaking about here in today’s passage. I think perhaps one of the biggest things John is pointing out here is our viewpoint on sin.
1 John 1:8, 10 – John says we claim that we have no sin. The fact is, we know we’re sinners but live an arrogant/prideful life as if we’re without sin. This is the same thing as saying we have no sin, so that is why John is saying truth is not in us.
We all recognize this attitude in mature believers right? It’s the same in the world. We become delusional with arrogance to think that we can justify ourselves. We think that if we live a decent, moral, responsible life then we can please God. We don’t think about needing a savior, but if we do good, then that must count for something. We think can show ourselves as perfect before God. Where does this delusional attitude of ours come from?
When I think about it, what I really want to talk about today, is this alternative definition of sin. It’s an alternative definition of sin that exists in the world. It’s an alternative definition drastically different Christian one, but Christians easily fall into it also.
What is that definition? It’s defining sin as actions that cause us to fall short of human potential. It’s really as simple as that. We’re not reaching our potential, so we’re sinning
Why is this a problem? What’s wrong with teaching sin prevents us from being better people? The problem is when you define sin this way, you have a different worldview on sin. How does this kind of worldview work?
First, when we talk about potential, we are talking about our perfection, our ideal self. So if sin is preventing us from becoming perfect people, then I’ve got to do my best to fight it. I’ve got to do whatever is in my power to do to fight this sin. Therefore, I rely on anything but Jesus to fight my sin
How does this show up? I think there are 3 ways in the world this shows up. I’m going to speak about these 3 today.
The first way I think this shows up is in various forms of meditation. This occurs in things like yoga, martial arts, and more prominently in Buddhism and Daoism. An example, Daoism speaks about this balance of good and evil, opposite forces interconnected. You’ve probably seen the diagram, logo of the yin-yang forces, balance of duality. Even eastern medicine and forms of martial arts have come out of this belief.
It basically saying there is this duality of good and evil that I’m constantly fighting. We’re in a constant state of balancing our spirits, battle against sin. Sin becomes this constant bubbling evil desire in me, I’m constantly fighting against it. Sin becomes something I’m self-focused on getting rid of. It’s because I should be my perfect, ideal-self in balance, sin goes against that. So I should rely on meditation to keep my sin in check, balance myself, and be good again.
Mature Christians should watch out for meditation that your prayer is not meditation. Meditation is very different from prayer. Prayer is seeking vertically towards God. Meditation is horizontal, both looking inwardly to oneself and outward harmony with world. When we pray as a way to control myself instead of asking God to help us, that is meditation. What we’re doing is defining sin as preventing perfection and using meditation to solve it.
The second way this definition comes out is in the use of psychology. Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind, breaks down mind scientifically/analytically. It breaks down our mind, motivations, environment, upbringing and many other factors. It studies different cases of people, analyzes each case, tries to help people with it.
People pay tens, hundreds of thousands a year on psychologist to help get them mentally healthy. It’s all about analyzing one’s mind, past experiences, desires and bringing out the bad and sinful things inside of us that are preventing us from being our best selves. That is the worldview behind psychology, that we need to be our best selves, and when we’re not, we need to scientifically analyze what’s broken and fix it.
Psychology looks at thinks for a purely humanistic view, in many ways think it’s similar to Confucianism. Confucianism puts emphasis solely on life on earth only, living virtuous and perfect. Ideal society is built upon the ideal man, teaches system of personal and social ethics. When I use psychology, Confucianism, humanistic methods, I’m using humanistic methods solve sin. Sin is what is preventing me from being my most ideal self, from reaching perfection.
Some believers even look at Church from a humanistic viewpoint. Through Christianity, I can study myself better and it’s a place to reach better virtues. Of course, this is in the Bible, knowing ourselves and fruits of spirit are all in the Bible. The problem is when the point of Church is not Jesus, but to be a better person, better reputation. When mature Christians fall into that, solving sin this way, we lose Jesus.
The third and final way, in which this definition of sin shows up is in mysticism. Mysticism of course shows up in things like witchcraft and religions that study supernatural. But I think this is sometimes even more prominent in mature believers in Christianity. Believers get stuck framework of spiritual battle, some mysterious spiritual world.
What is sin in this kind of viewpoint? It’s the temptation of evil spirits and demons. It’s these evil spirits and demons that are preventing me from being a faithful, good person. Not to say there’s not angels, demons, and spiritual gifts like tongues/visions, the Bible talks about this. The problem is when we begin to imagine the spiritual world in a tangible way and focus on that. Our mind and imagination even take over about things we don’t and cannot have ability understand
That is the problem with an overemphasis on the spiritual battle in us, it takes reality out. Dealing with sin becomes something I’m doing as spiritual battle, instead of really dealing with sin. It’s like saying, if I get rid of some mysterious evil spirit or demon in me, I’ll be healed.
Think about it, in Bible only a few instances of Jesus dealing with spirits/demon possession. But there are many, many more instances in Bible of Jesus dealing with sin, more important core of sin. The focus of Jesus was never on some supernatural spiritual battle inside of us fighting with sin. The focus on Christianity is not the supernatural spiritual world, how that prevents us being perfect
The focus of Christianity has always been about Jesus, not about being perfect and virtuous. The focus of Christianity is not on striving to be a morally perfect person. Let me be clear, of course, the Bible teaches us about good moral behavior. But Good moral teachings are not the foundation of Christianity. They are there, but before we need a moral teacher, we need a Savior. Jesus is more that just a moral teacher, He died on the cross to save us from our sin.
Why do we need a savior? This goes back to the proper Christian definition and worldview on sin. Where does sin come from? The fact is, we are completely helpless against sin. In Romans 5:12 – through disobedience of Adam, sin entered the world through one man. Generations that followed him us, we have the Original Sin inside of us.
What is Original Sin? God created with moral freewill to choose good or evil, but when Adam disobeyed God, ate fruit knowledge, we began to define morality, good/evil ourselves. This is a moral quandary that God allows us to choose to do good/evil, but in eating the fruit, we define ourselves good/evil without an absolute moral standard of God. So basically, Original Sin a moral defect inside of us that rebels against God.
So what is sin? The Christian viewpoint doesn’t define sin as a lack of perfection, need to fight sin. The Christian viewpoint on sin is that we are in a helpless condition of sin. The greatest need that we have is that we need a savior, we need forgiveness.
Rather than the action of sins that we can stop simply by not doing them, we need salvation from the condition of sin that we are in, we need forgiveness. The greatest need that we have is the savior Jesus Christ who walked the path of cross for us.
We can try to fight sin and indeed the Bible teaches us this in many ways to avoid temptation, to seek the fruits of the spirit, to look at the core of our hearts rather than just outward actions. And we can try to fight sin with methods of meditation, martial arts, psychology, spiritual forces. But all these things are like what Apostle John says – 1 John 1:6-7. Salvation is the primary need of the human condition
In Romans 7:14-23, even Apostle Paul described this well, the inevitable lost battle against sin that I have. Only when Paul realized the inevitability of this lost battle, he concludes it with Romans 7:24-25. Our “battle” against sin is not a battle against the sin at all. Instead, it’s a battle of faith, to submit completely in faith that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. It’s that is by his cross and shed blood, we were made complete, restored relationship with God. We were forgiven by the complete grace of Jesus Christ.
When we accept Jesus into our lives, then our whole lives are under his salvation. In 1 Corinthians 6:11 – We were washed, we were sanctified, we were justified. I gave this verse a few months ago when I preached about sanctification.
Some Christians believe salvation of Jesus Christ is only the justification part. That sanctification is some battle we face against sin and we fight this battle for perfection. But what does the Bible teach us – we were sanctified. Sanctification is something even God gives us by grace. For those who have accepted Jesus as Lord/Savior, he sanctifies and guides our lives.
Hopefully today, we gained a proper biblical Christian viewpoint towards sin. Sin is not something were fighting against in our quest for human perfection. God created us perfect, but we fell and helpless in sin, only savior Jesus Christ can restore that. We need this forgiveness that only Jesus can give us.