“The problem with the world is radical Islam,” says one outspoken individual. “No, the biggest problem in our world is racism, haven’t you seen the news lately, cops killing teens and let’s not begin to discuss Charleston”, says another. And still there is one who cries, “you both have missed the main issue, the biggest problem is the LGBT agenda, I remember the glory days of our nation when men married women and everything was ok, this whole Bruce Jenner, rainbow flag society is what is plaguing is all.” What do all of these statements have in common? All of these statements miss the main point, they address the symptom but ignore the problem and will never reach any worthwhile conclusions or solutions as a result.
The biggest problem in our world is sin. Though sin masks itself in various forms and in various ways, the problem is still sin. Sin is what separates man from God and which leads to ultimate death (Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 3:23, 6:23). Somebody responds “we expect you to say that, you are a Christian and of course you would respond with an answer like sin.” You see, sin is the issue no one wants to discuss. These symptoms manifested in different ways are all from the same root, and the problem we don’t want to address is that we all struggle with sin to varying degrees (Jas. 1:14). So as long as we think that these other things are the real problem, there will be a never ending cycle of discussing problems but never offering solutions.
What is the solution for sin? The only solution for sin is Jesus (Mt. 26:28; Jn. 1:29). I know the world wants to make Jesus out to be a mere philosopher with good advice or an out of date rabbi with teachings that really don’t fit 21st century issues, but the truth is, He is still the Savior of the world and the only way that sinful man can have a right relationship with God and in turn have a right relationship with others (Mt. 22:37-40). Why doesn’t the world get this? Because the Devil has done a good job of getting us to categorize sin, section off issues and point the finger in the other direction, he knows God wants men to repent and come to knowledge of the truth about Jesus and sin, but if Satan can prevent us from seeing that before it’s too late, he knows we will be eternally lost (1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:9).
HOW SHOULD WE ADDRESS SIN?
How does one need to address sin? Well, that depends on the individual and in what state they are in before God. Christian and non-Christian both deal with temptation and sin but there are different steps that must be taken. The person who is not a Christian can only deal with sin as he or she believes in God and His Son, repents ( a change in mind that leads to a change in action), and then is baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:37-38, 22:16). The Christian who has already done this and falls back into sin must likewise repent and pray, confess to those offended and live right; continue to walk in the light (Acts 8:22; Jas. 5:16; 1 Jn. 1:7-9).
When we tell the radical Muslim that he needs to see things our way politically or tell our lesbian neighbor she needs to start seeing men, we miss the problem. When people discuss the moral fiber that supposedly once graced America and show that we need to get back to that, they miss the point. We often find ourselves putting Band-Aids on things that really need surgery, surgery that can only be spiritually performed by God (see Col. 2:11-12). If I merely want to convert Democrats to Republicans, I have missed the real issue and will continue to miss that issue. Morality, with all of its blessings and benefits, does not save. Only the blood of Jesus through the gospel saves. To make my world and community more moral without telling them what to do about sin merely leads them towards separation from God more uprightly (2 Thess.1:7-9).
CHANGE IS POSSIBLE
The world does not want to hear a message about sin, but it’s the one that needs to be heard. People in sinful situations need to change. Not change in the way that makes them more like me, but that puts them in a right relationship with God. To tell sinners to pray a sinner’s prayer is inaccurate and misleading, to tell them to merely believe in Jesus and that faith alone saves them is equally false. Men need to be told to repent and be baptized just like they were told in the first century (Acts 2:37-38). The truth is that racism, homosexuality, murder, idolatry, gossip, lust, etc. all have equal standing as works of the flesh (see Gal. 5:19-21). But this is not the whole story, there were those in the first century guilty of some of the same sins mentioned here. They were saved when they changed, and if we don’t preach or teach that folks can change we don’t tell the whole truth.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:9-11 ESV).
The world knows the Christian stance on First Corinthians 6:9-10, but they also need to hear about verse 11. No matter what you see on the news tonight, the greatest problem humankind has is still sin. And the solution is still Jesus who is “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2).