sinSin is about as popular as hell when it comes to sermons. If we don’t like being told we may be going to hell, and we don’t like being told why.

Up front, let me acknowledge that there is a mystery here to which Scripture does not give us a full answer. We can all see the justice in some of the sins of commission: few would argue that murder was a good thing, or that adultery and stealing were admirable and to be wished for. Some folk might want to argue about definitions and boundaries, but on sins of commission we may expect to find agreement. Jesus Himself told us:

20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Note the origin of these sins – ourselves. We are not told that we are the victims of our environment or society, we are, ourselves, the authors of sins of commission. We cannot blame it on ‘the woman’ or God; we are, ourselves the authors of our sin. Our first parents, although made in God’s image, had within them the capacity, exploited by Satan, to fall away from that state. So it is no surprise that we should do so ourselves.

But there are also sins of omission. If we do not use the talents God gave us, if we do not help the poor and the widow, if we are not prepared for His coming, then there, too, we fall short of what God wants; so every time we fail here, we are sinners.

Why do we sin if God created us?  That is the mystery. We have some hints, of course. From the beginning the Devil was a liar and a murderer, and it seems to me that sin comes from him – and that we make a choice – obeying God or the Devil, and that we make the self-same choice as Adam did. We can blame old Adam if we like, but I’d prefer to blame the old Adam in me and no do what Adam did – which is to turn round and look for someone else to bear the blame.

That is because someone has already paid the price to God for my sin – Jesus Christ. I do not defy St John’s dictum that there is not one of us without sin. But there is a distinction to be drawn: between those of us who know we are sinners and have embraced Christ’s redemptive power, and those who do neither of these things.

St Paul reminds us that ‘the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ The ‘foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men’, and yet we wallow in wat we fondly imagine is our strength and wisdom. Better by far to lean on Him and to acknowledge our sins and to turn from them in the hope of life eternal.