The Doctrine of Sin - Its Need in the Church
by Dr. Ken Matto
Why is it almost every other major doctrine is taught in the church regularly except the doctrine of sin? Could it be that this doctrine would expose the shortcomings of every Christian in the pew and pulpit? Would we offend an unbeliever who is visiting the church and we may want them to think we are nice guys instead of religious fanatics? As Christians we must always be cognizant of the heinous nature of sin before a thrice holy God. Sin is so putrid to God's nostrils, the only way He could ever accept a person is through the finished work on Calvary, void of any human effort.
In this short study I want to show how important this doctrine is for the Christian to know and understand. Ignorance of sin has a drastic ripple effect on the Christian, their church, and those around them in general. Since sin entered the world, there have been differences as to the definition of sin. What one person considers sin, another does not. Smoking is a good example. Some believers say that smoking is not a sin while others say it is. When you light up you violate the 6th commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." Tobacco products kill slowly.
Whatever a person's view of sin is, we can be sure that sin does not abstractly happen but it is a well-planned strategy to physically destroy Christians and spiritually destroy unbelievers. The doctrine of sin is important because it warns us about the tragic consequences of sin, whether it is intentional or through ignorance, sin knows neither mindset. I would like to explore some consequences sin brings into the life of someone.
Sin Blinds
Sin will always blind, whether it is a believer or not. By partaking in sin we are blocked out to the wisdom of God, and will result in going in the wrong direction with decisions that will affect our lives. The blinded person will then have to make decisions in their own wisdom which will result in wrong choices. If we are blinded by sin, we may start agreeing with the sinful ways around us, and of course, we will rationalize our actions in some manner to condone our ways.
It gets to the point that we will fail to discern between right and wrong because we will have quenched the Holy Spirit within us. As believers we have a responsibility to obey the spiritual principles God lays down in the Bible, but we will never be able to understand these principles if we are blinded by sin. Sin will blind us by blocking the Holy Spirit who is the only one that can interpret those principles for us.
If we do not understand the destructive nature of sin, we will surely stray from the truth. Unfortunately, many sins are referred to as disease in modern Christianity. Would John Owen, Richard Baxter, or Jonathan Edwards think of drunkenness as disease? We have traded the Bible's strong view on sin for the easy definitions of modern psychology. Many Christians have rejected sin teachings and have adopted secular interpretation.
In the modern church we have a great increase in divorce, anxiety, adultery, and other sins. These sins are running rampant because Christians are not receiving proper instructions from the pulpit. The Bible has been supplanted by psychology, sociology, and other types of unbiblical teachings. Years ago Jimmy Swaggart described it well when he stated that many sermons are only warmed over book reports. He is correct because many modern preachers are relying on the mind sciences to gain their insight into human behavior instead of extracting from the Scriptures. This constitutes a turning of the back on God's teachings.
When a preacher turns his back on God, the congregation will follow. If the reality of sin is denied in the place where it should be spoken of most, it is no wonder why Christianity is in such turmoil. If the church goes apostate, this does not give license to true believers to follow suit. God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us, since we cannot do it alone. If we must leave that false church then we must because we are commanded to leave a dead church. (2 Cor. 6:14-18)
Sin Diverts
Ignoring the knowledge of sin and its effect will cause a diversion in the believer's life from the revealed will of God. An excellent example of this are those who study at home. If you were to obey Satan's attempts to get you to shorten your study time, in matter of a few weeks, you will drop out of whatever course you are taking. If sin was blinding me and I did not know these subtle ideas were satanic in origin, Satan would succeed in diverting every commitment I would ever make in life.
Alibis and excuses are the children of diversion. If God gives you a task and you make an excuse why you cannot do it and continue to rationalize why something else must be done instead, you have disobeyed God. If you refuse to obey God, you will never reach your full potential which is available to every obedient Christian.
Satan fears a believer reaching their full potential. This is why he establishes gentle diversions to imitate what God's will is for your life. Sin does not have to be gross or abrupt, or the Christian will spot it a mile away. If the doctrine of sin is not studied and understood, we will be opening ourselves to future diversions.
Sin Divides Relationships
Sin will divide our relationships with others. It will cause us to treat some with respect and some without respect. It will cause us to play favorites.
(James 2:2-4 KJV) For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; {3} And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: {4} Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
James apparently had this problem in the Jerusalem Church, so to prevent the spread of it, he wrote it in his letter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so all the churches would not make this a matter of habit. This attitude is pandemic in our modern society as we see people favored above others for the most pointless reasons. This is just one example of how sin can divide relationships with people. The worst place division can occur is in the church. If there is constant feuding among the brethren, the true gospel will never be received by the people.
This happens when a believer begins to live in their own wisdom, and gets out of touch with God. When a believer falls out of fellowship with God, the next step is falling out of fellowship with man, and this causes the disastrous divisions in the church. No Christian can live independent of God because we lose the power to influence the lives of others. If we are quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit, we will become spiritual mannequins. When we are out of touch with God, we will influence people in a negative way. Our works become dead works and we become a savor of death instead of a savor of life.
The ripple effect of our own personal sin will come between others and us, and if it is not given to God to set it right, the effects of that sin is far reaching, even unto the point of destruction.
No matter how hard we try, we will never become sinless. The key word is not to try but to identify sin for what it is. The doctrine of sin, when presented correctly and truthfully, will avert many spiritual calamities, which could otherwise mushroom. I have mentioned four words which describe the results of sin: Blinds, Straying, Diversion, and Division. If you notice I did not mention the more brazen sins like murder and theft, instead I have focused on the more subtle sins which may plague the Christian and affect all their relationships. A Christian who commits murder does not promote the cause of Satan as well as someone who causes division with a false doctrine.
This is why the doctrine of sin must be thundered from the pulpits once again, to bring people to a knowledge of their pernicious ways, so they may turn to Christ. For the Christian, to know this doctrine is like putting on another piece of spiritual armor, which prepares him/her for the attack which will eventually come.