A Sunday school teacher wanted to make sure her second-grade class understood the meaning of confession. She asked, “Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgive- ness?” After a moment, one little girl spoke out very loudly, “You have to sin.” Come to think of it, she was right, wasn’t she?! Unfortunately, it is not hard to sin. Sin is a not-so-novel virus that has long plagued mankind. It began when Eve and then Adam (in the Garden of Eden) chowed down on forbidden fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” the only tree in the whole fabulous place God said to leave alone (Genesis 2:16-17). It looked good, the serpent made eating it sound good, and it must have tasted very good. But what happened after they ate it was not good. Eating that forbidden fruit put them in a jam that landed them outside their paradise home and separated from God. In Romans 5:12 the Spirit of God inspired the apostle Paul to write about the pandemic of sin and its universal impact – “just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus spread to all men because all sinned.” From its inception, sin polluted. It ruins relationships, mars marriages, fractures families, foils friendships, wrecks lives, breaks hearts, destroys innocence, corrupts consciences, and soils souls. It is a spiritual virus more dangerous and deadly that small pox, anthrax, AIDS and the Corona-19 virus combined. It does what none of those dreaded biological agents can – it separates us from God, and if un-repented of, condemns the soul to spiritual death in a place the Bible calls hell (Isaiah 59:1-2 * Romans 6:23a * Mark 9:43-48). This spiritual virus infects every accountable person on earth – “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even in this age of medical marvels and scientific solutions, there is no mask or man-made vaccine or pill or prescription that can prevent or cure sin and the devastating effect it has on the human soul.
It is difficult to find any good news about sin, but there is some. God wants sin to be forgiven, and in His grace and mercy has made provision so that it can be! In Acts 2:38, as a part of the first gospel sermon ever preached this side of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the apostle Peter told a group of sinners who had come to believe in Jesus, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Earlier in that sermon he twice indicted his hearers with the sin of having crucified Jesus (vs 23, 36). But he announced good news about their sin (and ours) – God forgives sin when we turn from it and are baptized into Jesus Christ! John Alexander wrote words you don’t hear about sin every day – “Sin is the best news there is. Because with sin there’s a way out. You can’t repent of confusion or psychological flaws inflicted by your parents – you’re stuck with them. But you can repent of sin.” Alexander went on to say repentance is the only grounds for hope and joy and reconciled, joyful relationships” (Student Leadership Journal, fall 2000, p 3). Sin is bad news. It will take you farther than you intended to go, keep you longer than you intended to stay, and cost you more than you intended to pay. The good news about sin is that through Jesus Christ it can be forgiven!
“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, sins, calling on the name of the Lord” – Acts 22:16