What Is Sin?

Sin ...it's the politically-incorrect s-word; the word that can't be spoken in polite company or in professional circles; the word that people don't want to hear on the big screen or read on the written page.

For all the angst surrounding it, we rarely reflect on what sin really is. Many people simply think of sin as breaking the rules, and in particular breaking God's rules. If sin is just about rules - well, let's face it, some people are better at looking good than other people. And that makes it easy to get all self-righteous, especially if we can keep the rules better than others. But there's much more to sin than a bunch of rules. Here's another definition of sin to consider:

"Sin isnĘžt only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry" (Tim Keller, "Talking About Idolatry in a Postmodern Age").

When Keller says that "sin is primarily idolatry," he's not talking about bowing before little statues sitting on pedestals. He's saying that we all serve something - idols of the heart, if you will. Whether it's our career, family, money, church-going, social cause, sports, popularity or whatever, these take the place of God. These aren't necessarily bad things, but we make them God-substitutes. Sin is more than just breaking the law of God; it is breaking the heart of God.

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