When I was younger, I learned that the word “sin” meant “missing the mark.” To explain this, I was given the illustration of a target – where the bulls-eye was obedience; sin therefore was anything outside of the bulls-eye.
While I do not doubt that the translation was correct, I think the illustration failed to convey the seriousness of sin to a holy God. If I am aiming for a target and hit outside of the bulls-eye, I can still make it onto the target. Perhaps it’s just because I’m not a gifted dart thrower, but if I make it anywhere on the board, I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Sure, I didn’t hit the bulls-eye but I almost did. I may be tempted to think the same with sin. However, there is no “almost” when it comes to obedience to God. We are either doing what He says or we aren’t.
Sin therefore, isn’t something that we casually brush aside, saying “Well at least I tried” as one might be tempted to do with a missed dartboard. Sin is a coup against God. As Stephen Neill states “every evil word or act is a form of rebellion against Him” (The Christian Character, p. 117). We aren’t just missing the target when we sin; we are offending a holy and righteous God. While we may be tempted to excuse our sin, just as I might blame the missed target on a poor throw or a sudden distraction, a rebellion is a volitional act. And while we may prefer to see it differently, so is our sin.
When looking at the rebellions of history, it is easy to see that thee reason for them is that people were unhappy with their circumstances. They rebelled because they want their situations to be different than what they were. Their rebellion was their attempt at ceasing back control and changing the course of their lives.
So it is with our sin. As Neill goes on to state, “Why were you angry? You will probably find that it was because you were not willing to accept the world as God has made it; or because you were not willing to leave it to God to deal with the people He has made.” Sin is about seizing control. We want things the way that we want them and if we have to lie, cheat, gossip or slander in order to get that, than we will. Sin is a discontentment with how God is working.
This means that in order to sin less, we need to find our contentment in God alone. If we want to look more like Christ, than our prayer needs to echo His – “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). In doing so, we squelch the rebellion. One act at a time.