To soft-pedal sin is to discount the glory of the gospel. We help no one by acting as if we can respond to sin by just saying “Oops… my bad.” But according to the world, talking about sin is counter-productive to society because people’s self-esteem will be shattered in doing so. What if, however, my esteem was always meant to be found in someone outside myself? Then talking about sin would actually direct me toward this reality because sin would show me that there is nothing good in me to esteem (Romans 3:10), and therefore, I must turn to one who is good and find my esteem in him (Roans 5:18-19).
Talking about our sin points us to the sinless one, Jesus, who died for sinful man. So, if we’re going to help people realize the desperation of their plight so they can see the beauty of their hope, then we need to talk about sin in biblical terms so it is understood that “oops” is never a legitimate response. One way to do this is to explain to them who sin offends or affects. First, sin offends God directly as the one who created us, sustains us, and lovingly allows us to live in his world instead of hell (Psalm 24:1; 51:4). God made us to honor him as God and we choose, instead, to honor ourselves as gods (Isaiah 43:6-7; Gen. 1:27, 3:5-6). Second, sin hurts other people (Matthew 5:23-24). God also made us to live in community with each, and the sins we commit within our relationships cut people more deeply and more often than we realize. Even the sins we think we’re hiding affect the people in our lives because those sins keep us from actively loving them the way we should. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that our sins have indirectly (and probably directly) affected people we’ve never even met. Third, our sin hurts us (ourselves). Sin makes our lives hard, we feel the weight of guilt, and the power of sin keeps us from the One in whose presence there is fullness of joy (Proverbs 13:15; Psalm 32:3-4; Psalm 16:11).
These days there is a “that’s my business” mentality that is sweeping the nation, as if life can be lived outside the realm of relationships. The truth is that our “business” always touches more than our own lives. Our decisions always relate back to God as our Maker and almost always affect people. Sin is not private; it devastates you, other people and offends the Holy God of the universe.
Our predicament is worse than we think, but that just means that the good news of Jesus Christ is better than we think.