What Every Christian Should Know,

What Every Christian Should Know About Sin

By Dr. Robert Jeffress

Did you know that the word naughty once meant to have nothing—or naught? For example, “He used to be wealthy, but reckless spending left him naughty.” The word awful once meant to be worthy of awe? You could say, “Helen of Troy possessed an awful beauty.” Were you aware the word nice once meant unintelligent or ignorant? Someone might say, “I wouldn’t trust him to make the right decision—he’s too nice.”

Words change with the culture. In some cases, their meanings can turn 180 degrees. A positive connotation can become negative, or a compliment can become an insult. Considering that quirk of etymology, consider the word “human.”

For a brief, shining moment, to be human was to look forward to an unimaginably bright future filled with God’s continuous blessings. From Genesis 1:26 to Genesis 2:25, to be human was to embody the pinnacle of God’s creative work. To be human was to be animated by the breath of the Holy Spirit. To be human was to enjoy the privilege of God’s company. To say, “I’m human” was the loftiest form of self-affirmation, a reminder of all God had laid out before us in His creative genius and limitless generosity.

Then came Genesis 3. After the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, the idea of being human took on new shades of meaning. Today, we often use the word human as a catch-all defense for our worst instincts:

  • “I should have resisted when she invited me back to her place, but I’m only human.”
  • “I’m sorry I went off on you like that. My human nature just got the better of me.”
  • “Don’t try to put me on a pedestal. I’m human just like everyone else.”

1. The Way We Were (Genesis 1-2)

God created everything for His glory so His perfections would be recognized, acknowledged, and celebrated. The purpose of our existence is to bring glory and honor to Him. But if God wanted people to praise Him all the time, why did He not create us so that all we want to do is worship Him?

God desires a genuine personal relationship with us. But for a relationship, to be honest, there must be an option to walk away from it. Otherwise, the relationship would be a coerced arrangement. In other words, there must be free will.

Glorifying God in the way, He intends us to involve every aspect of our being. We worship Him with our minds by thinking of Him. We praise Him with our hearts by loving Him. We glorify Him with our will by choosing to obey Him.

2. The Way It Ended (Genesis 3)

The blessings of God’s perfect plan were contingent on the first couple’s obedience. As long as they chose to follow God’s commands, we could enjoy Eden forever. The complete list is as follows:

Do not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yes, that’s the whole list—just one restriction.

Eve was guilty of disobeying God, but her disobedience stemmed from being deceived by the serpent. On the other hand, Adam deliberately defied the Creator’s clear command. That explains why the condemnation of the entire human race traces to Adam and not Eve.

Adam was patient zero for the sin virus. According to Paul, Adam’s single act of disobedience allowed sin to spread to the entire human race. With only one exception, every descendant of Adam and Eve has sinned. The fact that we all die is evidence we have received the sin virus. 

3. The Way It Is (Romans 3:10-12)

In these three verses, Paul uses the term “no one” or “not even one” six times to show the utter depravity of every person.

The word righteous means to be in a “right standing before God.” No one is right before God.

Another evidence of man’s corruption is his inability to understand the simple truth that Christ came to die for us. 

Apart from the work of the Spirit, the Bible says no one is searching—not for the truth anyway. They are running from it. People run from this church to that church or this experience, not because they want to know the true God but because they want to avoid him. 

As a result, every day of our lives, we exhibit the same symptoms of infection. The sin that infects us is malignant; it leads to eternal death, whether we acknowledge it or not. The only diagnosis that matters comes from the only one who can see the full scope of our condition. Our holy God is the only one who truly understands what our sin has done.

4. A Final Reminder About the Reality of Sin

Jesus’s death on the cross removed the penalty of our sin and destroyed the power of sin over us. But it didn’t eliminate the presence of sin from our lives. Satan knows that the tactic that worked in the garden of Eden is every bit as effective today.

Today, people are talking about “deconstructing their faith,” peeling away all the layers, myths, and prejudices that have polluted historic Christianity. The devil’s goal is to create static transmission of God’s Word to our hearts. He wants to make us doubt whether we understand it correctly. When we doubt what we’re most sure of, we’re vulnerable to temptation and susceptible to sin.

The Holy Spirit is the beating heart in the lives of both unbelievers and believers. He makes us aware of our guilt and sin and compels us to confess so that we might enjoy the perfect relationship with our Creator that God originally intended.  

Sin ruined God’s original plan for humanity. God, in His infinite mercy, provided a plan of redemption so that our sin would not have the last word in our story.


Full Passage: Romans 5:12