Having realized that the issue of sin is at the center of what’s wrong with the world and that it’s a very human problem, we need to ask “How bad is it?” If we know the answer, we can offer the best solution.
It’s like having a computer problem. Do I just have to many ‘toolbars’ trying to all load at the same time, or is there a problem so deep that I need to call the Geek Squad to fix things?
If we have a heart for sharing Jesus with others, what we understand about the inner problem of sin defines ‘how’ we share Jesus with others. If sin is a problem deep inside of us, where did it come from and again, how bad is it?
Most of us would agree that the problem of sin began when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. We would also agree that what followed their disobedience was physical death in this life and a separation from God. What we might not agree on is the nature of the ‘separation’ from God. Assuming that Adam’s sin affected all of mankind, does that mean that all human beings are born basically good with some flaws but are able to help themselves out of a pickle? Or does it mean that we are so messed up that we are totally unable to dig ourselves out of the ditch? What does the Bible say?
The Bible tells us that those with carnal minds (the only kind possible for an unbeliever) are actually in active rebellion against God and can do nothing to please God (Rom 8:7). The Bible also tells us that a person without the Spirit of God (all unbelievers) cannot understand the things of God and thinks they are a bunch of foolishness (1 Cor 2:14). And the Bible tells us that the ‘natural’ man is completely unable to approach God on his own (John 6:44 & 65).
If just having ‘capability’ issues isn’t bad enough, the Bible tells us that we aren’t just wounded, we are totally and completely ‘dead’ in our trespasses and sin, not that we are basically good and just ‘do’ bad stuff now and again (Eph 2:1 & 5, Col 2:13).
It’s not that we are as bad or evil as we could be, but that we are as bad off as we could possibly be when we live apart from Christ. After all, how ‘dead’ is dead? What can a ‘dead’ man do? (If those aren’t rhetorical questions, we have a problem.)
We probably don’t need Ralph Venning’s Sinfulness of Sin, or be able to explain the difference between a ‘trespass’ and a ‘sin’ at this point, but what’s really important is understanding and being able to talk about the depth of the problem of sin. That understanding will affect ‘how’ we share Christ with those who desperately need him.
So , armed with a biblically understanding of ‘spiritually dead’ and understanding that in essence, unbelievers are ‘dead men walking’, we can now move on to the next part of our short series, providing the solution to the problem of sin in a manner that honors God.