What is Sin? (The Reason For God Chapter 10)

There is something fundamentally wrong with the world. We all know it. Things are not the way they are supposed to be. We have a standard and the world doesn’t live up to it. We don’t even live up to it. But for the Christian the problem goes beyond our self-made standard. Christianity says God has a standard that no one lives up to. Christianity calls this problem sin. But when we say sin is the foundation of all problems, what are we talking about?
Most people think of sin as breaking rules. But the first of the Ten Commandments says, “Have no other gods before me.” So, the sin that leads to all other sins is to make something or someone into God. Sin therefore is not merely doing bad things, “but the making of good things into ultimate things.” Sin turns away from God to something or someone else to find meaning and purpose. We love this thing because we believe it will provide ultimate satisfaction. Timothy Keller defines sin this way: “Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God.” He says everyone gets their identity from someone or something. And this need for worth from the things we identify with is so strong “that whatever we base our identity and value on we essentially deify.”
The result of our need to deify something or someone so we can find value and worth in it leads us to a final choice for life. Keller quotes Simone Weil, “One has only the choice between God and idolatry.”
Sin then is idolatry. It is elevating anyone or anything over and above God.
And don’t pretend you aren’t an idolater. Think about it:
“If I just get that job, I know I will finally be satisfied.”
“If I can just find the right person to marry, I know I will be happy.”
“I really want that car. If I don’t get that car I’ll feel like I have failed.”
Keller summarizes it this way, “If you don’t live for Jesus you will live for something else…Everybody has to live for something. Whatever that something is becomes ‘Lord of your life,’ whether you think of it that way or not.”
You break God’s commands because you love something more than you love God. You idolize something more than you exalt God. At the heart of sin is an idol.

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