Understanding Christianity: Sin

What do Christians believe? Why is the cross the symbol of their faith? In this series Pastor Tim Schouten of the Prince George Canadian Reformed Church explains some of the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith. Questions? Email pastortim@pgchurch.ca.

Is it still okay to talk about sin? Or is the topic of sin out-of-bounds?

These are, of course, loaded questions. If talking about sin was out-of-bounds it would mean that it is a sin to talk about sin.

The definition of sin is that it is the breaking of a moral code. Every person has some kind of individual moral code and every religion and culture has some kind of collective moral code. There are some things that are okay (moral) and other things that are not okay (immoral).

The word “sin” is simply the biblical and Christian word that labels what is immoral according to God’s code. Christians believe that we sin when we break one of God’s commands.

It must be said, however, that the Christian concept of sin goes much deeper than breaking a command. There are reasons why people break commands.  

In the third chapter of the Bible we find the parents of all humanity (Adam and Eve) presented with a choice. God has told them that they must not eat of a certain tree in the Garden of Eden or they will die. Satan, God’s chief spiritual enemy, tells them the opposite: “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Satan begins his argument by casting doubt on God’s character. Isn’t it the case, he implies, that God is only holding something back from you? That he is keeping all the power and glory for himself? Satan then appeals to Adam and Eve’s pride. He suggests that if they eat the fruit they will be just as qualified as God to know, and therefore decide, what is moral and what is immoral.

Christians believe that Adam and Eve’s choice to eat of the tree was of great consequence for the history of the human race. Our first parents became infected with two spiritual diseases: (1) a distrust of God and (2) a desire to be like God, especially with respect to deciding good and evil. They then passed on these diseases to their children and the rest of humanity.

It is, of course, impossible for Christians to prove that any of this happened. But when we think about the varying accounts of human origins we should consider which one best explains what we see in the world today. Why is the human race so fractured and broken and – if this word is permitted – evil?

Christians believe that the biblical account of sin gives us the answer to that question.

Author Rev. Tim Schouten

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