Over the past week a few of us have been interacting on a yahoo discussion group about forgiveness. The interaction actually began when we started to chat about the challenge of living a holy life. That led to some discussion about the nature of sin and whether it is even possible to be sinless.
These are very deep and important issues. So much so that they divide almost every theologian and denomination. After 20 or 30 posts I could see why they are so divisive. It is hard to even difficult to define sin in a way that everyone agrees let alone define how it manifests itself and how to best deal with it.
I grew up in a church going culture and I attended Sunday school, Sunday morning and Sunday evening worship services as well as Wednesday evening services. I heard a lot about sin. I did not understand exactly what it was.
That was probably my fault not the preachers and teachers who were trying to teach me. I thought sin was what I did. If I smoked, drank, played cards or committed adultery I was sinning. But I never understood the issue of the heart and motivations as sin. Not did I understand the difference between sin and guilt. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Do you understand the differences? The first person that challenged me to think about sin differently was President Jimmy Carter. For an interview with Playboy Magazine, President Carter mentioned that lust in his heart was a sin. Just lust alone, without acting on it, was sin. Wow! If so, that changes everything.