Why Do We Need To Talk About Sin?

“Sin” is an ugly word (and indeed one that has lost a great deal of its meaning within and without the church). So why do we need to talk about it? Does it even matter anymore? Richard Phillips offers these thoughts on why we cannot not talk about sin:

From start to finish, Jesus’ life and ministry were aimed at dealing with our sin. The angel who announced His birth told Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21b). This is why Jesus was born into obscure poverty, His infant body placed not on a royal bed but in an animal’s feeding trough. Though very God of very God, He was born into humiliation so as to take up the cause of sinners. This is why Jesus insisted on receiving the baptism of repentance. John the Baptist tried to refuse, saying, “`I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, `Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented” (Matt. 3:14b-15). This is why Jesus associated with sinners, a practice that drew the criticism of the Pharisees. They complained to His disciples: “`Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But when [Jesus] heard it, he said, `Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick…. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”‘ (Matt. 9:11b-13).

Above all, this is why Jesus meekly submitted when He was unjustly convicted, even though Pontius Pilate had declared Him completely innocent. This was why Jesus accepted the dreadful lash of the Roman scourge, when He might have called down legions of angels to His defense. This is why He permitted Himself to be abused, allowed His body to be draped with a mock purple robe, and submitted His head to be pierced with a bloody crown of thorns-that He might be presented before history as the very picture of sinful mankind judged, condemned, and punished. And this is why the Son of God willingly took up the cross, forsaken by God and man, and died for sins He did not commit. Jesus Himself summed up the purpose of His whole saving work: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

Do you see why, therefore, we not only can but must bring up the issue of sin in our offer of God’s salvation? If sin was so important to God that He sent His only beloved Son into the world to deal specifically with it; if sin is so great a barrier between God and man that only the precious blood of Christ could remove it; and if Jesus was so committed to the salvation of sinners that He was willing to go to this horrific length to achieve it, how dare we cover up the topic of sin as some embarrassment to us or an impediment to the success of Christ’s church! Do you see why we must be willing to ask people to confess their sins in worship that is offered up in Christ’s name? Do you see why we must preach a gospel not just of cheery sentimentality but of the true and bad news of sin for which Christ paid so great a cost?

Richard D. Phillips, Jesus the Evangelist (Kindle Edition)

If this is true, how does it impact each of us individually? Do we find ourselves shying away from talking about sin? In our efforts to evangelize, are we at risk of neglecting this essential aspect of the gospel in the hopes of gaining a hearing?

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  • http://mrben.jedimoose.org/ mrben

    I’ve been rewatching a series that was originally on in the UK a couple of years ago, following a group of 5 Amish teenagers as they experience 4 different families/communities around the UK. One of the things that has most impressed me is that they never fail to identify the things that they regard as sinful, but are never accused of being judgmental. I think our biggest fear is that we will be pigeon-holed as a “Christian”, and thought of as judgmental and/or hypocritical if we start talking about sin. 

  • Anonymous

    This is tough nowadays as that word has pretty much lost it’s meaning to most people.

    I think if we can somehow relate it to the brokeness that afflicts us all, to the ways we are being had in this world, then people may realize more clearly that they need to be healed.

    Then we might slip in a good word or two about the Healer.


    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Definitely agree that the word “sin” itself has lost its meaning to the majority of people, but I’m not sure if “brokenness” adequately captures the gravity of sin. It’s definitely one aspect, to be sure, but I wonder if there’s something that has more weight?

    • alH

      Actually, we need to stop being afraid to define sin for what it really is, i.e. whatever is not of faith (Rom.14:23).  We must ask our lord for wisdom and courage to boldly declare God’s laws, commandments, and statutes; and that any and every violation of them is sin; and that sin is punishable by death.  This reality is the foundation of the Gospel, or “Good News” of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Without sin there can be no salvation; without guilt, forgiveness has no appeal; without condemnation there is no need for pardon.  Man is not merely sick and in need of healing, but dead in trespasses and sins, and needing to be reborn (Jn.3:3,5-7; Eph.2:1).

  • Anonymous

    I believe that when you speak with people one on one about all the pain and grief in their lives (the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a divorce, etc.) that carries a LOT of weight.

    Much more so than telling someone that if they’ve told a lie they are going to hell, or that if they’ve ever stolen anything they are a ‘thief’.

    One could walk around with a big sign that says, ‘REPENT SINNER!’

    But I think the goal is to get people to listen to you because” faith comes by hearing”.

    And God’s Law is not just the 10 Commandments, but every demand that our humanity places upon us. In that demand there are a lot of broken sinners that need a Savior.

    My 2 cents.