What Does It Mean To Sin?

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    Parents try to protect their kids by setting up some basic rules, such as not playing in traffic, on train tracks, or at other places where their child could potentially be squashed, smashed, or run over. Do they do this because they’re petty, on a power trip, and like making up a bunch of rules? Of course not. In general, kids tend to realize that these rules—at least the most basic ones—are for their protection, and they see the sense in that. It gets harder when kids get older and they can’t see as clear a connection between their safety and what their parents don’t want them to do.

    But is that really any surprise? Don’t we as adults often fail to see the connection between our well-being and what God is asking us not to do? It seems that many write off God’s principles because they fail to see the reason behind it or think that God is holding out on them and trying to spoil their fun.

    Sin is, at the most basic level, unwillingness to trust God. Note: this is not the difficulty we have trusting God at times because sometimes it takes a lot of effort to trust him. Rather, sin is the willful act of not trusting God. We purposefully choose to not trust God, and do things contrary to the way he set them up. That is sin.

    Does that seem petty? That it’s considered “sin” when we don’t do things the way God wants us to? Maybe it would be, if God were like us. But he’s not. Because his very essence is love, he sets things up for our good. But if we won’t trust that he’s doing that, we end up creating a bunch of trouble.

    That’s exactly what happened to Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:16-17 tells us God told Adam and Eve they could eat of the fruit of any of the trees in the garden—except for one. He said, “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” How did they know that they would die? They didn’t, but it would seem that the God who had created you and everything around you might know what would kill you. Obeying that one command meant trusting that God had Adam and Eve’s best interest at heart.

    Genesis 3:1-19 tells us the story of Adam and Eve’s unwillingness to trust God. In verses 1-5, Eve has a conversation with the serpent. The serpent’s challenge is simple and has a twist to it: “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” By adding any, he draws Eve into conversation. She corrects him, but she adds to God’s original statement too: “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat.” And there she’s right, but here comes the addition: “God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” The serpent comes back with a claim that God isn’t trying to protect them: “You won’t die!” Rather, the serpent would have them believe that God is holding out on them: “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Basically, the serpent is saying that God made that rule to keep you from becoming like him. Never mind that there’s no logic in that. Adam and Eve bite. Literally.

    Instead of trusting that the God who made them and walks with them every day in the garden loves them, and has their best interests in mind, they believe that he is trying to hold out on the really good stuff by this stupid rule not to eat from the tree. It’s the “willful unwillingness” to trust God that caused the first sin and continues to cause it in our lives every day. God has our best interests at heart. The question is: will we choose to trust him?

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