I highly recommend the series of theological books that fall under Crossway's collection labelled Theology In Community. I have read a couple of them and you can read my reviews of those volumes here and here. I also have their title The Kingdom of God on my Kindle, ready for reading. The most recent text from this series that I have read is Fallen: A Theology of Sin. It is an excellent resource that I have already made use of in my preaching and one that I am sure to revisit.
From this book comes the substance of this post. In a chapter entitled Sin in the Former and Latter Prophets and Writings, Paul R. House concludes his chapter by presenting a few summative statements about sin:
- Sin is perversion - Sin "distorts the people whom God made and thus the world over which they exercise stewardship" and it "harms people's relationship with God" (80).
- Sin is active - Sin is "thinking, planning, and doing" things god has prohibited as well as "not doing the good" that God has prescribed and thus "the wrath of god is directed at people, not to sin in the abstract" (80).
- Sin is relational - "Sins committed by people harm people; sins committed by nations harm other nations" (81).
- Sin is pervasive - "Sin scars every person and portion of life" which is evident because "the scope of God's teaching indicates the multitude of ways one may sin" (81). Sin has its origin in the hearts and minds of humans and therefore "the types and effects of sin are as varied and creative as the human mind can conceive, and they are as dangerous as human opportunity allows" (81).
- Sin is deadly - "It harms what it touches, and it can kill wherever it goes" (81).
And though these statements might cause one to despair and doubt, House reminds of the gospel which is neither despairing nor does it give reasons for doubting:
Because these principles are so sobering, the magnify God's redemptive work in Jesus Christ. Christians cannot really fathom all that it means to have forgiveness through the saving blood of Jesus. There is no way to fully comprehend how much each person sins and how those sins harm life. So, there is no way to thank God fully for what he has provided. Once again, only by faith can one respond to God's promises, covenants, and teaching. Sheer divine grace alone prevails against sin (81, emphasis mine).