Is Sin Obsolete? Why We Need the Forgiveness-Restoration Cycle
By Rev. Jason Richard Curry, Ph.D., Columnist
I know quite a few people who pride themselves on being shameless. A number of them are rather explicit about the fact that they are unwilling, no matter what they say or do, to be shamed by others. Their Twitter or Facebook names often jokingly read “John Never-Shamed Jones” or “Cynthia Shameless Smith.” They rarely apologize for their actions even if I or others bring their offenses to their attention. I think that it is interesting to note that my “shameless acquaintances” have made a distinction between moral ethics and legal ethics. As long as their actions are not illegal, even if they are immoral, they will continue to do them.
I am reminded that a theologian named Mircea Eliade stated in his book, The Sacred and the Profane, all healthy or prosperous societies made a distinction between good and evil. My acquaintances, however, seem to have a problem with the idea of sin (evil), which is a transgression against God or the breaking of God’s law (e.g., see Matthew 22:37-40). To them, the idea and reality of sin seem to be outdated or even obsolete and they seem to see little value in confessing their sins before the Lord and asking the Lord for forgiveness.
In general, Christians don’t like to talk about or commit sin; however, sin—through the process of confession and repentance—can ultimately bring us closer to God. If sin were obsolete, there would be no distinction between right and wrong and we would not begin the process of asking God for forgiveness so we might be in a right relationship with God. If sin were obsolete, we would further the breach that we created between our brothers and sisters because we would not invite God into the healing process and we would not engage in the critical, self-reflection that is necessary in order to get along with and show love toward our neighbor. If sin were obsolete, we would not understand the meaning of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for it is Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). If sin were obsolete, we would run the risk of idolatry because we would view ourselves as God. We would fail to see our human imperfections in the face of a perfect God (see Psalm 18:30) and we would forfeit our sacred role as people made “a little lower than God and crowned…with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5).
John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Therefore, let us never strive to make sin obsolete.
The Rev. Dr. Jason Richard Curry currently serves as the dean of the Fisk Memorial Chapel, an Assistant Professor of Psychology and the Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Accreditations at Fisk University. He is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and has written various academic articles; a book, The Star Book on Pastoral Counseling;” and is a columnist for the Tennessee Tribune.