Our Greatest Problem – Sin
“I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. – John 8: 34
We only have to watch the news these days to see that undeniably the greatest problem of humanity is our sin. We are horrified and appalled upon reading yet another brutal massacre or heartless case of corruption. It’s strange though, how the revolutionaries who cry for justice today, do injustice to their own people when they’re the ones in power. Philippine National Hero, Jose Rizal once said that the slaves today would be the tyrants of tomorrow. What did he mean by that? Perhaps he was referring to the fact that all of us have the capacity for evil, and yes even the most gruesome kind. I remember reading Time Magazine years back and seeing a very endearing picture of a baby boy. He looked so innocent and harmless, even adorable. All that feeling of delight, however, disappeared when I read the caption underneath: BABY PICTURE OF ADOLF HITLER AT 6 MONTHS. The truth is, the monstrosity that consumed Hitler is still here today and can once again rear its ugly head through yet another despot. The sobering fact is that we are not exempt. Author Reb Bradley in his book, ‘Born Liberal Raised Right’ quoted the 1926 Minnesota Crime Commission established by then Governor Theodore Christianson of Minnesota. The study, made to determine the causes of crime in their state, had this to say:
The commission eventually concluded that criminal tendencies were not the result of poverty, education, or environment. Instead, it offered the following brutal observation: “Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it: his bottle, his mother’s attention, his playmates toys… or whatever. Deny him these and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness, which could be murderous, were he not so helpless. He’s dirty; he has no morals, no knowledge, no developed skills. This means that all children, not just certain children, but all children, are born delinquent. If permitted to continue in their self-centered world of infancy, given free rein to their impulsive actions to satisfy each want, every child would grow up a criminal, a thief, a killer, a rapist.”
Of course this is nothing new. Even the ‘Man after God’s heart’, King David, understood the truth of our sinfulness even from birth when he wrote his Psalm of repentance after committing adultery and murder, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me… Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
I grew up in a family that emphasized good education and right conduct. But that didn’t keep me from going my own way and causing so much pain and heartache to so many people, especially the ones I love. Surely all of us have somehow experienced and realized how our sin, in word, deed, and thought, can cause so much grief and misery.
John Stott, writing more than 50 years ago on the futility of man trying to reform his ways without a transcendent power to help him said this:
Much that we take for granted in a ‘civilized’ society is actually based upon the assumption of human sin. Nearly all legislation has grown up because we simply cannot be trusted to settle our disputes with justice and without self- interest. A promise is not enough; we need a contract. Doors are not enough; we have to lock and bolt them. The payment of fares is not enough; tickets have to be issued, inspected, and collected. Law and order are not enough; we need the police to enforce them. All this is due to our sin. We cannot trust each other. We need protection against one another. It is a terrible indication of what human nature is really like.
The Jews of Jesus’ day were waiting for the Messiah to come and save them from the oppression of the Romans. For them, it was the foreign power’s cruelty and tyranny that was the problem. When Jesus the Messiah did come, He showed that the real root of the problem is in the heart, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander… He came not to start a political revolution like that of Robespierre in France, Lenin in Russia, or Mao in China. He did not come with a sword like Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan. But rather he came to conquer Sin, the one thing that none of us could ever hope to defeat. Sin, the true source of our bondage, is indeed our greatest problem.
I was thirteen when I joined a gang. The bitterness I felt when my parents separated, coupled with my failures in school took its toll and made me a walking time bomb. After two years I got into a shooting accident that caused the death of a freshman in my high school. My rebellious ways brought death and destruction to everyone around me. My anger and hatred was eating me from the inside. I wondered deep in my heart if there was someone who could finally save me from myself?
In 1990 I realized that the sinless Savior died on the cross of Calvary to take upon Himself all the sins, past, present, and future, of the ones who would trust Him for forgiveness. This act of love and selfless sacrifice melted my heart. The day I received Him in and became His follower was the day He solved my sin problem. He is changing me each day. I’ve never been the same since then. I claimed the promise in Ezekiel 36, pledged to all those who would by faith, offer their lives to Him, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.”
Love Crucified Arose by Michael Card