Christianity offers a compelling story with great explanatory power for the human experience. It is a story that makes sense of why humanity does amazing and wonderful things as well as vile and wicked things. It gives a reason why we create both beauty and ugliness. The Bible teaches that God created all things good. He had a design for humanity and the universe. As long as we followed this plan, we would flourish. However, the reason we don’t always flourish is because there was a fall—a rebellion against God that started with Adam and Eve and continues in our lives today whenever we decide not to live according to God’s blueprint for mankind. Humanity suffers from disfunction, pain, and deterioration when we don’t think, feel, and act the way we are meant to. The Bible’s word for this rebellion is sin.
Sin in Plain Language
Put simply, sin is not doing what we were made to do. God created humanity to live a certain way. He has a design for us and our lives, and when we don’t follow that design, we sin. When we sin, we experience dysfunction and deterioration. Sinning is like using a paper shredder as a juicer. The creator of a paper shredder intended it to be used in a specific way for one purpose—you guessed it, for shredding paper! If you try to force fruit through a shredder, you might end up with some juice to drink, but it would definitely not work as well as a juicer, and eventually the shredder would break. The same reality holds true in our lives if we ignore the purpose God created us for: things might work a little while, but sooner or later there will be issues. God has revealed in the Bible the purpose for which we are made. In a sense, the Bible is the user’s manual for humanity. If we want to feel whole and purposeful and experience human flourishing, we should follow the blueprint laid out by our maker. When we ignore that blueprint, we are sinning. Just as it would be foolish to attempt to build a house without the architect’s blueprints, it is foolish to try to live our lives without following the creator’s blueprint. Sin—that is, not living the way we were made to live—is a problem because it keeps us from a fulfilled and functional life. However, this is not the only reason it is a serious problem. Sin also puts us at odds with our creator. Sin is a rebellion against God.
The Seriousness of Sin
To really understand the serious consequences of sin, we must look at things from God’s perspective. Using a computer as an analogy may help us to understand this. Imagine that your computer malfunctions. When something goes wrong with your computer, it means that either the hardware, software, or both are not functioning the way that they were created and intended to work. The computer is broken; it is no longer a good computer. A computer that doesn’t do the jobs you need it for is no longer useful; it’s trash. Now, for a moment imagine that the computer has highly sophisticated artificial intelligence. So sophisticated, in fact, that though the computer could function the way it was created to, it’s choosing not to. Wouldn’t we have an immediate impulse to put an end to such behavior? Wouldn’t that be an appropriate response? This, after all, is the premise of many popular science-fiction movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey; The Matrix; orI, Robot. If the rebellious creations in these movies must be destroyed, how much more should we expect God to punish us for our sin? Our choice to sin is an act of willful defiance against our maker and designer. Such an act cannot be overlooked or ignored.
The Christian story is so wonderful because it doesn’t end with sin. Rather than destroying us outright, God came to humanity to offer redemption and renewal. God became man and died for our sins so that we can be spiritually “rebooted.” This is exactly what we need. Sin is not something we can heal ourselves of because we are the problem. As the mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal wrote, “Men, it is in vain that you seek within yourselves the cure for your miseries. All your intelligence can only bring you to realize that it is not within yourselves that you will find either truth or good” (Pensees149). The cure for our misery and sin is not in anything we can do but only through what the Bible calls regeneration. The word regeneration means “another beginning.” This is exactly the fix we need. We need a restart, and the Bible teaches that God offers that to us through Jesus Christ.
One passage in the Bible describes it this way: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself” (2 Cor. 5:17-18). How do we come to be “in Christ?” The answer is simple: believe Jesus died for your sins and trust in him as savior and Lord. In Christ, God frees us from our sin and allows us to begin living life the way we are wired to. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus didn’t come to condemn sinners but to offer a better way. He offers new life through faith in him. He offers abundant life through following him. He offers eternal life with him. This is the hope Christianity has to offer: the hope of everlasting life free from all evil, disfunction, suffering, and pain because Christ has dealt with the serious problem of our sin once and for all on the cross.
Life After Regeneration
It’s important to note that though regeneration frees us from the tyranny of sin, we don’t immediately become perfect. Christians won’t always live the way God intends us to live, but we are able to live the way God wants us too with increasing consistency and frequency. The less we sin and the more we live the way God designed us to, we will find ourselves fulfilled, at peace, and purposeful no matter our circumstances. Being a Christian doesn’t mean sin and its impacts are never experienced again, but it does give us the resources to repent when we mess up and to persevere through life’s ups and downs. Ultimately, if we have been regenerated, we can trust that one day we will be with God forever in a perfected state, incapable of sin. The Bible promises that God will guide us safely through life: “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). The day of Jesus Christ marks the beginning of the final and never-ending act in God’s story: a glorified existence, free from sin, living in a new earth, dwelling in the presence of God himself!