Different theologians provide diverse definitions of what sin is, of course according to their understanding or theological persuasion. On Sunday, as my pastor (Marty Brown) was preaching, the way he defined sin got my attention. Quoting from John Piper’s book, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards…, Pastor Marty shared this definition: “Sin is the suicidal exchange of the glory of God for the broken cisterns of created things.” John Piper elaborates on this definition as follows:
“Paul [the apostle] said, ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3:23). Sinning is a ‘falling short’ of the glory of God. But the Greek word for ‘falling short’ (husterountai) means ‘lack.’ The idea is not that you shot an arrow at God’s glory and the arrow fell short, but that you could have had it as a treasure, but you don’t. You have chosen something else instead. This is confirmed in Romans 1:23 where people ‘exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image.’ That is the deepest problem with sin: it is suicidal exchange of infinite value and beauty for some fleeting, inferior substitutes” (p. 36).
The above definition of sin reminds me of Jeremiah 2:12-13, where God found the waywardness of the children of Israel quite shocking. “Stand in shock, heavens, at what you see! Throw up your hands in disbelief—this can’t be!
God’s Decree [declares the LORD].
My people have committed a compound sin [two evils]:
they’ve walked out on me, the fountain
of fresh flowing waters, and then dug cisterns—
cisterns that leak, cisterns that are no better than sieves.” (Jer. 2:12-13, THE MESSAGE)
In the same way the Israelites forsook God their source of life-giving water and the very source of their life, there are some in the church today, who claim to be born-again, and yet go after the things of this world. Consequently, their hearts are hardened and their eyes are blinded (cf. John 12:40; 2 Corinthians 4:4; and 1 John 2:11). They, therefore, don’t even realize how meaningless their lifestyle has become and how it will end in utter emptiness. May God help us learn from the wise King Solomon who in his search for happiness (in the book of Ecclesiastes) tried everything and found it meaningless. But it is uplifting to know that Solomon did not continue to live in defeat, discouragement, and discontent, he turned to the Lord. He gives this wise exhortation: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil”(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
In addition to encouraging each other to satisfy our inner longings in the Lord, we should also pray that our brothers and sisters who are walking away from the Lord would return to the Lord so they may be revived. Let us join the hymn writer by singing and praying this verse and chorus:
Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again. (Retrieved from http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/r/e/reviveus.htm)
The necessity for revival in our day is much-needed in order to deal with sin. Spiritually speaking, there’s darkness all around us but we must not walk in it. Instead we should walk in the light (see 1 John 1:5-7). Revival will not occur without each of us having a hard look at sin. We must understand that sin is not something to play with, but something we need to shun by all means. Sin is missing the mark and results in death (Romans 6:23). It is transgressing against a known law of God in our thoughts, speech, and deeds.
We have some good news though: Confession of sin leads to eternal life and a God-glorifying life in this world. In order for us to glorify God in our daily lives, we must confess our sins for He is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Others will also glorify God as we let our lives so shine before them (see Matthew 5:16 and Ephesians 2:10).