Question 16: What is Sin? | Luke 15:1-2; 11-31

QUESTION:  What is sin?

ANSWER: Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, rebelling against him by living without reference to him, not being or doing what he requires in his law—resulting in our death and the disintegration of all creation.

How have you historically understood the idea of sin? If you asked your friends at work, how would they describe or define sin?

  • Sin is rebellion, that exists in many facets, against God and His law. 
  • The result of sin is the disintegration of our relationship with God and ultimately leads to death. 
  • Sin inevitably leads to the breaking down of our relationships, our lives, and ultimately our relationship with God. 

Luke 15:1-2; 11-31
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable:

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
Sin is summarized in three ways: (1) By rejecting or ignoring God. (2) By rebelling and living without reference to God.  (3) By not being what God has called us to be or doing what is in God’s law.

  • Which of these do you notice our culture or society tends to lean into the most? Are some of these more prevalent than others? Why or why not?
  • Which do you tend to lean into the most?

Here are some evaluative questions that were mentioned in the sermon:
  • Is your prayer life directed towards God’s presence or God’s blessing on your life?
  • How do you respond to disappointment? 
  • What is your attitude towards sinners?

The good news of the Gospel is that while we represent the two sons in Jesus’s parable, Jesus represents the father. Of all the ways that the two sons, Pharisees,  and tax collectors manifest these different representations of sin, Jesus maintains a consistent response of grace towards them all.

How is the father’s (Jesus's) response different from our responses and the way that culture responds to sin?

Reflect this week on the different ways that sin shows up in the world around us. What are the motivating factors, responses, and attitudes you see?  Ask God to remind you that He is the father in this story, and meditate on the father’s response upon the son’s return.

Lord of the Universe, all your ways are good. We pursue the way of death when we go our own way. Help us to see sin as the poison it is. Let your law, rather than the spirit of lawlessness, shape our minds and our lives. Amen.