Sin is a word without much meaning in our culture. It seems very old fashioned. Does anyone understand what it means to “live in sin.” Do we agree that we “sin in word and deed”?
Here in Wisconsin we have lots of words for winter weather – we could just say cold, but we can also say sleet, snow, heavy snow, blizzard, thunder snow (yes that exists), frost, frozen rain, powder, slush, wet, dry, and so on. Why so many ways to talk about it? because we have it from mid November to Spring. (Basically from the end of the World’s Series to Spring Training.)
The Biblical words for sin are multiple. Sin can be transgression, corruption, stain, debt, missing the mark, willful, secret, high handed, wicked.
Psalm 32 has a glossary of sorts: Psalm 32:1-2
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
The Lord’s Prayer is rendered two ways in Matthew and Luke
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
The Bible is the Word of God and it was written by people who were very concerned with a life with God and under his blessing. Hence words that relate to God are common. “theo-logical” – means god (theo) words (logoi).
So while we don’t have “sin” in our cultural vocabulary, we have other words:
unfair, guilty, biased, racist, sexist, specieist, hateful, greedy, crooked, liar, sneaky, selfish, stingy, mean, law breakers, elitist, crude, violent, aggressive, abusive, addicted, willfully ignorant, and verbose to name a few.
So we do believe in sin, but we see it human centered, or centered specifically against ourselves. We do not see it so much as against God.
Yet, he is not far from us. We let him sneak back in whenever we talk about justice or fairness.