The concept of sin lies at the heart of the Christian faith.
The Christian believes that his or her sin is what has created separation from a holy God and that God’s solution was to send his Son, Jesus, to be the sacrifice that would deal with the sin problem. As a result, the Christian should have a thorough understanding of sin and of the devastation that it creates both in individual lives and in society as a whole. In light of this, how should the Christian address the sin issue in a culture in a healthy manner?
A healthy response to sin in culture must begin with understanding and accepting the pervasive nature of sin. The Apostle Paul explained that sin, which began with Adam, has affected every human being (Romans 5:12). Sin in the individual and in society as a whole is pervasive and therefore the Christian should not be surprised when a culture becomes infected. The belief that human beings are basically good is a fallacy that leads to many improper approaches to ordering society.
The Christian holds to the creation of all people by God, but also to the belief that something has gone very wrong. Sin has damaged every human being and therefore every culture is in a gradual state of decay. This does not encourage the Christian to give up on societal change for the better, but it does give him or her the clear realization that ultimately human culture will not be what God intended until the time that God brings everything under the rule of Christ and creates a new heaven and a new earth.
A Christian who honestly accepts the pervasive nature of sin will follow the example of Jesus in seeing each person as sick with sin and in need of the remedy that only Jesus can give. A healthy response to cultural sin feels deeply the pain and turmoil that sinful activities inflict on individuals within it.
When Jesus was faced with the false theology of the Pharisees who put on a veneer of being without sin, he affirmed that only those who acknowledged their lives were sick with sin were capable of receiving the remedy for sin that he carried with him (Luke 5:31-32). When the Christian sees people and groups of people in culture as victims of sin, he or she will respond to sinful actions with the care of a physician rather than the harshness of a judge. While the truth of God’s revelation to men and women will inherently judge sin, the responsibility of the Christian is to come alongside the one bound in sin and call such a one to a life of freedom in Christ and the healing and wholeness that results from it.
The best and healthiest way to affirm the truth is to live it out among those who are bound and lost in sin.
Through demonstrating the freedom from sin that is available to those in Christ, the Christian presents an alternative to the life of slavery that so many in society are involved in. By being a living witness of freedom in Christ first, the Christian creates an opportunity to address sinful actions in an atmosphere that has the potential for true change to occur.
A healthy response to sin is one that while affirming a clear understanding of right and wrong as revealed by God, also demonstrates care for those who fall short of God’s standard. The Christian is not called to stand above the sinner in ultimate judgment (Matthew 7:1), that is God’s position, but to reach a hand out to the bound sinner caught up in the sin of the culture and to offer a way out. While harsh words of judgment may seem appropriate in a moment, the loving offer of forgiveness in Christ will ultimately lead to the best for all.
Prayer is a consistent response by the people of God throughout history to cultural sin. God promised his people that he would heal their land in response to prayer that came from a repentant heart (2 Chronicles 7:14). The Christian is committed to the belief that cultures can be transformed through the power of prayer. By seeking a power greater than the human, one that can affect true transformation in individual lives, the Christian through prayer can bring powerful change in society.
God’s miraculous power is available to those who diligently call on God with a passionate heart that is seeking change. The person who has personally felt and experienced the pain that results when a culture is infected with sin will cry out to God regularly until the change that he or she desires to see becomes a reality. Many nations have been deeply affected by the Christian community coming together in prayer and calling out to God on behalf of the culture of which they are apart.
For a Christian, healthy response to societal sin is one that mirrors God’s approach as exemplified by Jesus.
A society is made up of individuals and it is only as each of these men and women are transformed by God that sin is dealt with in culture. God’s desires are best exemplified before they are proclaimed. A Christian who lives out the change that he or she desires in others and who calls upon God continually for his or her culture will see the best results.
A healthy response to sin emphasizes the needs of people and leaves judgment in the hands of God. Such an approach will over time have a positive benefit for all members of society.