The Three-Letter Word No One Wants to Talk About

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The Three-Letter Word No One Wants to Talk About

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Sin isn't something most people talk about very much. Many churches don't talk much about it either. Forgiveness is more frequently mentioned. Clara Null tells the story of a young boy who knew the connection. After a lesson on Christian behavior, she asked, "Billy, tell me what we must do before we can expect to be forgiven for our sins."

Billy replied, "First we gotta sin" (Edward Rowell, editor, 1001 Quotes, Illustrations and Humorous Stories, 1996, p. 520).

That's the easy part! The Bible tells us that everyone sins, and that every sin earns us the death penalty (Romans 3:23; 6:23). But why is sin so bad?

Some think of sin as what we want to do but aren't allowed to do. But really it's what God says we shouldn't do because it will hurt us and others. God hates sin because it's like an evil disease that will ultimately make His children suffer and die. God is our Creator, and He knows what is good for us and what will bring harm.

You see, for eternity God has lived the give way of life—He is love. His way of life has been recorded in the Bible as His law—a set of eternal principles that can help us see how to love the way He loves.

But sin is the opposite. It's lawlessness—breaking God's laws (1 John 3:4)—and it leads to death (Romans 6:23). Murder, sexual sin, stealing, lying, warping the way God wants to be worshipped—breaking any of God's laws destroys the connections of love He wants us to have with Him and each other.

Paying the price for us

Since we have all condemned ourselves to death by desecrating the beautiful, loving relationships God has designed us to have, how can our death penalty be pardoned?

The Bible tells the dramatic story of how God set the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt. The Israelites had to kill a lamb and put its blood on their doors to alert the death angel to pass over their homes and spare their firstborn children. They were told to commemorate this great example of God's intervention and protection each spring with the Passover festival.

When Jesus Christ came, He was willing to take our death penalty on Himself, to be "our Passover ... sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7). Now Christians who follow the pattern of the New Testament Church rehearse Christ's sacrifice annually at the Passover festival (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

But this is not a license to continue sinning. For our good, He tells us to "sin no more" (John 5:14; 8:11). By keeping God's laws, we can build strong relationships with God and each other (Matthew 22:37-40).

Insidious sin

Even after we've repented and been forgiven, sin too easily creeps back in.

If you've ever seen bread, rolls or donuts rising before being cooked, you've seen an analogy of how sin insidiously grows. The bread is raised (leavened) by yeast fermenting the raw dough—that is, converting sugar within the dough to gas, causing it to expand. Just a little yeast will spread throughout an entire lump of dough.

The apostle Paul explains that yeast—leavening—is symbolic of sin (1 Corinthians 5:6-7). It works secretly, permeating us, puffing us up from the inside and even spreading to others. Pride—of an individual or a group—can lead to all kinds of evil, as can malice and hypocrisy, which the Bible also connects with leaven.

When Paul wrote this to the church in pagan Corinth, it seems he wrote in the spring of the year and his analogies tied in perfectly with the season. God had commanded a festival called the Feast of Unleavened Bread for the seven days right after the Passover. This festival was not just for the Israelites, as this gentile New Testament congregation in this Sin City of the ancient world also observed God's Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Paul wrote, "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:8).

Paul shows here that the eating of unleavened bread and avoidance of leavening during the festival were intended to teach a spiritual lesson. Avoiding sin (represented by leaven) requires taking in the true unleavened bread in a figurative sense. The Bible describes it as letting Jesus Christ (who never sinned) live in us (Galatians 2:20).

So, as Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread approach (Passover starting this year at sunset April 7 and the seven-day festival running from sunset April 8 through sunset April 15), think about this life-and-death matter. Passover reminds us of the need to repent of sin and have its penalty covered by Jesus Christ's sacrifice. Unleavened Bread reminds us of the importance of overcoming sin with Christ's help.

These festivals of God are explained in more detail in the booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind. Find it on our Web site or order a free copy to be mailed to you. And our caring personal correspondence team is always ready to answer further questions you may have.

Sin is serious. Repent. Go and sin no more. Choose life! VT