Sin is one of those subjects that is tough to do justice to.
Most of the time, we err on the side of minimizing it. We treat it as little more than a personal dysfunction or a character flaw. Even in our strongest language, we tend to speak of sin in terms of brokenness, of separation, but shy away from the darker picture Scripture paints for us. “Instead of interpreting our present-day sin in the light of a divinely revealed standard,” wrote H.J. Whitney, “we reduce this standard to a pale reflection of our own man-made standards.”[1. As cited in Iain D. Campbell’s The Doctrine of Sin]
In effect, we treat sin as if it were a cold instead of a cancer.
Sin is alien, and intrusive. It is an invader in the created order, attacking, perverting, and twisting what is good into something other than it’s intended effect.
It distorts image bearers of God into rebels lying to the world about their Creator. It perverts notions of biblical submission and service between men and women into strife and servitude. It disrupts and destroys everything it touches.
When we remember to see sin in this way, it also changes how we deal with it. It reminds us that sin isn’t something to be managed, it’s something to be destroyed. It’s not something we can will away by being more awesome, but something we defeat by surrendering to the Holy Spirit who is at work within us.
Cough medicine doesn’t kill sin. We need chemo.
Killing sin is hard work. It causes a lot of pain. And sometimes, it seems like it’s going to kill us in the end. But, fighting sin is a life-or-death situation. “Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work,” wrote John Owen, “be killing sin or it will be killing you.”