Is sin just a matter of doing what is wrong, or does it go beyond our actions? Let’s find out as we discuss one of the important doctrines around sin.
More often than not, when we think about sin, we focus on actions and behaviors. Lying, stealing, lusting, coveting… You probably get the idea. All sin, every sin you can think of, is a violation against God’s commands.
But why do we do this—why do look at God’s commands and want to the opposite? Why do we disobey God without even thinking about it?
It’s because sin goes deeper than our actions. Our actions are the fruit or result of our desires. Sin is a heart problem, a desire problem. We sin because it’s what we want to do most.
The Bible calls this idolatry, which is a word that many of us probably associate with bowing down to a statue of an animal or a person. Kind of like the golden calf, or the statue of Nebuchadnezzar.
Which is true, but because idolatry starts in the heart, with a rejection of God as God, it is often much more subtle. It is a seeking of approval, security, power, pleasure, and so on. Whatever we run to in times of trouble, and whatever we look to for enjoyment or safety, that is what we worship.
And this is why we need the gospel. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God doesn’t just give us forgiveness for the sinful actions we take. He gives us a new heart, new desires, to actually want to worship God alone! This doesn’t mean that Jesus saves us and we stop sinning forever. But it does mean that we have the ability to examine our hearts and see what is drawing us away from Him, what is causing us to sin, and we are invited to turn to Him for forgiveness, knowing that He is faithful to forgive and will help us to live faithfully.