The Problem of Sin


1 John 3:4-10 NIVEveryone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.  But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.  No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

Our sinful nature is not something that is really understood by those who are not Christians and unfortunately, it’s not something that is fully understood by many who call themselves Christians. And, for a significant period of my life I would fall into the second category. Even now, as I have been drawing closer to God for the last two or three years, I feel as though I am just scratching the surface with coming to understand how deeply ingrained sin is, within us, within me.

For some reason, most people don’t like hearing the word “repent”. I’m not exactly sure why that is but I suspect it is largely due to us coming to recognize that many of the things that we do are not as “righteous” as we may think they are. Repenting involves pointing the finger inward instead of outward. It’s looking at ourselves rather than looking at what others do. We’re all quite good at looking at others and not so much at looking at within ourselves.

The word “repent” actually means “to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin”. Repenting also involves turning from what we have been doing and seeking a new path, a different way of looking at things, utilizing God’s perspective in evaluating our actions and thoughts rather than relying solely on our own internal reasoning.

And it’s not just sin that is not understood, it’s also the word “Holy”. We don’t really understand that either. God is Holy. One of the definitions for the word Holy is “having a spiritually pure quality”. 

If you ask most people if they are basically “good” or “bad”, most will respond that they are basically good people. We like to think that about ourselves, others may do things that we would never consider doing and we find it difficult to comprehend some of the things that we see some humans doing to other humans. You’ve heard the phrase that the “devil is in the details”. Well, when we consider some of the key words used such as “basically” and “pure“, that is exactly where the differences that exist become apparent.

What we humans do is usually compare ourselves to other humans. That’s how we make judgements, about ourselves and about others. “Brian says horrible things about Rodney but I would never do that”. We’re better than Brian and especially Rodney. We might think it but we’d never actually say it out loud to others. Oh sure, we might succumb to humanistic shortfalls once in a while but (key word) basically we’re good people.

Same thing with the word “pure” what we are talking about here is 100%, without variance, undulated, solid through and through. That’s what God’s holiness is, total 100% pure, no variance, totally righteous, totally trustworthy, totally just, totally without malice or nefarious intent. Even when we speak about humans whose lives are exemplary as being “holy”, we make the comparison with other humans and there is a reason for that. We don’t come face to face with the holiness of God in our day to day dealings with other people. A person who lives a “holy” life is not the same as the holiness of God. There is a gulf between when we as humans can achieve when it comes to what we classify as “being holy” and the Holy that God is.

There are some who might say, “God, who you say is Holy, cannot be. He’s not a reality. He doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as being 100% holy.” I hear you. I couldn’t comprehend that either many years ago but when I became a Christian, when I started reading God’s Word, that is exactly what God says He is. Totally Holy, 100%, without variance. I could quote the many Scripture verses here but you can check this out for yourself by reading through the Holy Scriptures. But reading about God’s Holiness and experiencing God’s Holiness are not one and the same thing. I’m not going to repeat the experience that I had but you can read about it here.

I can tell you right now that there is no way it is possible to accurately convey in words what I experienced. None. Does this happen to everyone? Not that I am aware of. Have other Christians experienced this? Yes, many have. Does it make me special, no, not at all because as all things that come from God, there was absolutely nothing that I had done that made me deserve this. I simply do not know why other than I want to share with others what I experienced because I know it is true. I was in His presence. You can believe me if you want or disbelieve me, but I know what I experienced and no I wasn’t using drugs nor was I under the influence of anything other than God’s gracious will.

You’ll note in the initial Scripture that I quoted above that God’s Word says “Everyone who sins breaks the law”.  This is the Law that God gave to Moses. This is where it illustrates and explains what is “right” and “wrong” from God’s perspective. This is where God’s Holiness is explained in human terminology that we can relate to, a lot of times using physical structures and likenesses that represent spiritual realities. And of course there are a lot of rules and ordinances where spiritual realities are represented in physical terminology. There are many Biblical studies available that dive into this topic including my “The Tabernacle” series which can be located under “Post Categories” on my main page. 

But in this particular post I would like to draw your attention to one fact.

James 2:10-13 NIV says: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Why is that you ask? Good question. Because the Law represents God’s Holiness and there is no room for “basically”. Basically good doesn’t count. It’s not good enough. 100% means 100%.

Now I have a question for you. Would you like to come to know and trust in the Creator who made everything that we see and all that we are, who was “basically” good? You might catch Him on a good day and then there are those days when He might deviate a little and you’re out of luck. You see God doesn’t lie, He does not change, He cannot deny Himself for what He is. God is 100% trustworthy. What He says will come to pass will come to pass. It really matters not whether you as a non-believer don’t believe that or not. That may sound harsh but I’m just telling it as it is.

In the beginning we (God’s creation) were at one with God. We (figuratively speaking) trusted God to determine what was good for us, we simply did all that He gave us the freedom to do. There were no rules to follow except one. Yep, that tree. That tree represented us trusting Him or trusting in our selves. He gave us the freedom to choose. And you know what happened, we went with trusting our selves. But when that happened the 100% was broken, we were no longer totally like Him, matter of fact we became far less that 100%. We were no longer Holy like He was and is. The “oneness” that we originally had with God was broken.

Did God give up on us? Nope, not even close. He created us to be in fellowship with Him. His love goes out to us but there was a problem. And, most importantly, we needed to come to the realization that there was a problem. Enter the Law to show us that in spite of our best efforts (humanistically speaking), we could not PERFECTLY (that would be the 100%) fulfill the requirements of being Holy like God is Holy. We simply can’t get there in and of ourselves. Interestingly enough that is just one of the main differences between Christianity and all other religions, mankind trying to be Holy through his own efforts (varied though they may be) and Christianity where God says we can’t do it and He will do it for us through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. When Christ died on the cross the veil in the Temple that separated the Holy of Holies (where God dwells) from the rest of the Temple was rent in two from the top (from God) to the bottom (man’s attempts).

Jesus was and is God’s answer to our separation from Him. It’s all through the Bible, the lamb without blemish, the shedding of blood in the sacrifices, the ordinances etc, all fore shadow God’s answer to our problem so that we (his creation) could again be at one with our Creator. And you know that I have just barely scratched the surface.

So being “basically” good isn’t going to cut it.

Why, because God is 100% Holy and if we are to be His children, we need to be Holy like He is. Jesus is the door, He only is the way, where we become sanctified or accepted in God the father’s eyes because of our faith in who Jesus is and what Jesus accomplished on our behalf and thereafter with our continued daily walk with Him where we are refreshed through His indwelling Holy Spirit and His Word, in the process of being made Holy in this body, that will ultimately die because of our still present inherent sinful nature but having been reborn in our spirit, we progressively die to the flesh and now live in Him and He is us and thereafter when we leave this body, we shall see Him face to face.

This is my hope. I’ve tasted, I’ve seen, I believe. I don’t profess to have all the answers. I don’t even know all of the questions but I’ve seen enough to know and trust. If you’ve never asked God to be in your life, do it, you don’t need fancy words, just sincerity from your heart and He will meet you, just open the door.

Revelation 3:20 NIV “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!












  1. Bruce, one of the areas I’m learning to repent in is my sarcasm and snide comments (SOP from my dad’s influence) I make to my wife if I disagree with her, especially if I “know” I am right. Turns out, with my sinful nature and long-term addiction habits, I’ve lied to myself and also believed lies from others over the years, so my knowledge and experiences were not always correctly interpreted, or may have been based upon partial information or even disinformation. But more importantly, taking cheap shots at her never solved anything, and were only intended to put her in her place rather than to change her thinking, and they always hurt her as intended. How I wish I could take those back now, and all the hurt I caused that gentle and kind lady who loves the Lord with all her heart and will do or say whatever she believes God asks her to regardless of the consequences to her.

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    • Hi Rick, I hear you, been there myself. There’s not much you can do about the past but I have found that telling the Lord how it is in truth and asking for His help to guard against my mouth goes a long way in keeping this in check. And, it’s also a daily requirement, the daily prayer aspect to keep God’s Holy Spirit within us to make us mindful etc. I have found that there is a correlation between our relationship with the Lord and our relationship with my wife and BOTH need to be under His guidance and influence. It’s always the ones that we live with that are the hardest to keep in balance because they see us as we really are and it’s the “as we really are” part that needs to change and that can only happen when we honestly see the value and requirement to seek His help and guidance. It’s all part of the relationship building reality, with God and with our wives. Not easy but necessary. Hang in there Rick. Focus on the little things that you can do for her, put her above yourself with regard to what you want to do. And try not to chew off your lower lip 🙂 Blessings!


  2. Thanks Bruce. I think an even bigger battle for me has been the lying. It is ingrained in my addictive behavior and became the default for me, even when unnecessary. I lied to my wife, to others, and also to myself, and often didn’t know I was lying to myself. The way I’m learning to change that is to become a truth-teller, as Eph 5 talks about, and to do that in every case with everyone. I am stopping and correcting the lies when I catch them and then carefully telling the truth to reinforce the change. Yes, I agree fully it is so critical to rightly handle and correct even the little things with my wife, which hopefully will rebuild trust with her in time, but some of these nasty sins need to be chased down and squashed wherever they come up.

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  3. “Repenting involves pointing the finger inward instead of outward. It’s looking at ourselves rather than looking at what others do. We’re all quite good at looking at others and not so much at looking at within ourselves.” This one of the keys to living a Christ-like life. Great post, and thanks for it, Bruce.

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  4. “Basically good doesn’t count…” the perfect description of the human predicament, Bruce! You have beautifully outlined our need for Christ… not only before salvation, but after. Thank you for this excellent post. You are an outstanding teacher!

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  5. Good explanation Bruce. As you know, believe all sin has it’s roots in pride. Pride believes I can do what I want and God will understand, because He knows I am flawed anyway. Tackling our pride is a primary need to start to root out sin. A broken heart over our sin and true repentance are at the heart of this. \\ Great post!

    Be blessed

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  6. Great lesson, Bruce. I’ve discussed the subject of being “good” with unbelievers and religious people over the years and their response to how they view themselves is very telling. Followers of Christ, those who have revaluation knowledge of what Christ’s sacrifice has done for us, never view themselves as good. We know the depths of our sinful nature. We know that anything that could be called good in us is the righteousness of Christ. By definition, self-righteousness is attributing the good in us to our carnal nature.


    • Hi Bill, thanks for the feedback, sincerely appreciate. I feel bad every time I see you respond with more than a line or two. The stories I could tell you about this one! I’ve actually met a group of Christians who thought they didn’t sin, seriously. Hard to believe. I agree with your definition, I close Christian brother of mine who is now with the Lord used to say that the closer we get to God the more we realize how different we are from Him and it’s true. The fact that He opens our eyes is encouraging because that means His Spirit is within us. By the way, we’re into a cold snap now, the harbour (salt water) is starting to freeze and you know that’s not a good sign. As soon as I saw it I thought of you! Blessing brother!


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