In our society, and especially in Christian circles, there is probably not one word more emotionally charged with negativity than the word sin. But what does sin really mean? What is the biblical definition of sin? It literally means missing the mark. It is a term in the Greek that comes from an archery term meaning to miss the bulls-eye.
In Romans 3:23 the Bible says that
"ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD."
So please allow me to reword it just a bit. "All have missed the mark and didn't get their arrow to hit the perfection of God."
So what does this mean for us today?
What does understanding that sin is missing the mark mean in how we relate to God and understand His word?
When we understand that sin is missing the mark, then we all understand and can accept that none of us are perfect. When you understand that you have truly fallen short, that your arrow was no where close, then you no longer can fool yourself into thinking that close is good enough.
Many people automatically categorize sins into big sins and little sins. We think that God is not nearly as mad at things like gossip, white lies, or maybe playing hooky from church to go soak in the sun on the beach. (one of my favorite things to do!)
Good thing there is not a beach in Pine Haven! LOL
We think that God only cares about the big sins, murder, adultery or premarital sex, or stealing. However this is not the case.
Regardless of whether sins are in our eyes big or little, they are viewed the same way by God. However don't get discouraged. When a person comes to understand this, and acknowledges that their imperfection is just as bad as anyone else's, there is a solution provided by God himself.
The next sentence in that verse I quoted in Romans 3 is found in verse 24.
"BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS."
Let me try to explain it this way. There are two of you lining up to shoot an arrow. You both pull the bowstring, and you let the arrow fly. One of you is a lousy archer and it only flies a few feet, but the other one send that arrow sailing. It flies hundreds of feet. The one that shot the arrow thinks they did pretty good and beat the first archer badly. Then the master of the tournament comes and tells both of you that you missed, that neither of your arrows came close to the target which was on the other side of your country. If you viewed it from a high altitude, your arrows missed just as badly.
It is the same way with our attempts at perfection. When we compare ourselves to one another, we think we are doing pretty good, but when we compare ourselves to the perfection of God, we have fallen way short.
That is why we need grace. Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve. He gives us the blue ribbon or trophy for hitting the bulls-eye when we didn't even come close. He does that because of what Jesus did, not what we did.
True Christianity is not about being sinless, but about the fact that we can't be sinless and Jesus redeemed us anyways.
I don't know how many are old enough to remember this, but when I was a kid, my mother would collect S&H Green Stamps. She would paste all of the stamps in a little book and when she had enough she would redeem those stamps for something she wanted.
Well in a very real way, Jesus collected all the green stamps He needed to collect by living a sinless life and then being willing to turn His life in for ours. He redeemed us. So no longer are we the loser's of life that have to walk around with the spiritual penalty of our sins, but we are given His righteousness (right standing) with God.
When God looks at us, He looks at us as just as if it never happened. That is the definition of justification. Just as if it never happened. So stop beating yourself up over your failures past, present and yes even future. You have been redeemed, you have been given a new lease on life because God does not have a list of your sins, they have been wiped away and thrown as far as the east is from the west.
As a free moral agent, you have the choice whether or not to accept what Jesus did for you or not. You can keep trying to shoot that arrow across the country and hit the bulls-eye or you can submit to what God has done through Jesus and take on His life.
Many people say they will accept Jesus, but then take up trying to be perfect again. They try to still live up to some standard of holiness in their own power. Holiness is not the goal of the Christian life. Having a personal relationship with Jesus is the goal of the Christian life. Holiness and growth in maturity happen as a result of that relationship with Jesus.
If you have never started a personal relationship with Jesus, then I would encourage you to go to the Peace With God webiste.
If you are a believer then I would encourage you to focus on your relationship with Jesus and not sin. The more you try to be perfect in your own strength, the more you are telling God his gift was not enough. The more you are looking at your failure, the more you are telling Jesus He did not do a good enough job that you need to help Him out.
Pastor Duke Taber is the Senior Pastor at The Vineyard Church in San Carlos Ca. He is an alumnus from Life Pacific College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary. He is a husband, father, and grandfather.
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