Scene: Jerry Seinfeld at Confession
Catholic Priest: Tell me your sins, my son.
Jerry: Uh, I should mention that I’m Jewish.
Catholic Priest: Well that’s no sin.
Jerry: Oh, good.
— Seinfeld, “The Yada Yada”
If we want to have a fulfilling relationship with God, we need to know what sin is and how to get rid of it. In order to understand what sin is, it’s helpful to establish how God made the world and what his intentions were for us.
In the opening chapters of Genesis, after God created everything, he said that his creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). “Very good,” means that, “the cosmos was created and organized to function on behalf of the people that God planned as the centerpiece of his creation.”1 When God created Adam and Eve as the first human beings, he made them in his image (Genesis 1:27). Because we all descend from Adam and Eve, we are in the image of God as well.
But what does “image of God” mean? In short, it means that we are created with eternal value and were given a foundation for human dignity and human rights by God himself. Rabbi Akiva said in Pirke Avot that God made us in his image as an act of incredible love (m. Avot 3.14). With that in mind, he created us and the world to function in a specific and precise way because he loves us. Because of that, there are certain things that are inherently evil, regardless of motive or consequences of the doer.
One of the best examples is the Ten Commandments Moses gave to the Israelites. Every prohibition from God listed in Exodus 20:1–17—whether that be murder, theft, adultery, or idol worship—is intrinsically sinful because it is contrary to the way that he created the world. His original intention for us was to live in perfect harmony with him, but because of sin we have a broken relationship.
The Hebrew word for sin is חָטָא (chata), which literally means to miss (a mark or goal). So, at a foundational level, sin is missing something that ought not to be missed. You can think of it like an archery contest. The goal of the archer is to shoot an arrow and hit the bullseye on the target. If the shooter misses the target, then he is acting contrary to his role as an archer. Similarly, the goal of a white blood cell is to fight off bacteria and viruses inside the body. If it fails to destroy the invader, then it is missing its intended purpose, thus, causing you to become sick. Likewise, when we miss a goal that God set for us, such as going against his original design, then we are acting contrary to the way he created us.
Throughout the entire Bible, God cares if we sin. But perhaps an even more relevant question to us is why should we care about sin? The first reason we should care is because we want to rebuild our broken relationship with God. The more we sin, the further apart our relationship becomes. This is just like in a regular relationship. The more you wrong the person, the more it hurts the relationship.
The second reason we should care about sin is because it is inherently evil. It goes against the way God created us and the universe. God made us because of an unfathomable love, and he wants us to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11) and find our joy in him.
A third reason that we should care is sin has everlasting implications. God wants an eternal relationship with us, both now and into eternity. However, sin is the roadblock preventing our closeness with God. But because of his love and his mercy, God has provided us a way out of the consequences of our sin. Yeshua died on the cross and rose from the grave to give you a way to conquer sin and live eternally with God. He made it possible for us to ask for forgiveness and wipe the slate clean!
If you are willing and would like to grow in your relationship, you can pray this simple prayer to help set you on the right path:
“Dear Lord, I understand that you want to be in a relationship with me and my sin is what’s preventing that. Please forgive me for the sins I’ve committed in the past. Starting now, I want you to enter into my life and give me the strength to resist sin and its temptations because I want a stronger relationship with you. I want you to guide me in my life and show me how I can get closer to you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place and take my sins away. Please give me the strength and courage to follow Jesus as my Messiah. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
If you just prayed that prayer, please send us a chat, and we would love to speak with you. Shalom!