Here's where the thoughts happen...
The Best Plan
If you are anything like I was growing up and if your faith background is similar to mine, then you probably have a generalized, basic idea of sin. It wasn't until my late 20's that I truly began to understand what "sin" is and why God considers it "sin".
Dos and Don'ts
I was raised in a Christian home, and we very much took the Bible seriously. We believed that the 10 Commandments were truly a thing that were given to Moses (Deuteronomy 5:7-21) ,and that the 10 are still rules that every Christian should abide by. A list of "dos" and "don'ts". Do keep the Sabbath holy; do honor your father and mother. Don't have any other gods before Him; don't have any false idols; don't take God's name in vain;...don't murder; don't commit adultery; don't steal; don't lie; and don't covet. Then throughout the Bible there's plenty of other "dos" and "don'ts" that have been added to that list of what is right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, good and bad, Christian and un-Christian. Basically, being a Christian seemed like a long list of rules.
Don'ts = Sin
My understand was that the "dos" were characteristics of a good Christian. Someone who is kind, loving, and forgiving. Someone who obeys God and prays. As a kid, it was me being a good student, not lying or cheating at school, going to church regularly, and honoring my parents. That was simple enough. But what did that mean about the "don'ts"? Well, those things are obviously sinful. Thus, my definition of sin became "the bad things that we don't do". I tend to be a very logical in my thinking, especially in my younger years, almost absolutist. Meaning, I see things as right or wrong, black or white. Grey areas generally make me uncomfortable. So seeing sin as simply all the "don'ts" was very tangible for me. I would be totally fine, just avoid the things on that list.
There are several problems with this way of viewing sin. First off, that list, if you were to take all the laws given in the Bible would be crazy crazy long. It would take way too much time just compiling the list, and then to even begin to read through it, study it, and memorize it would be insane. Trying to live by it would be impossible (literally, since we are all sinners and need the blood of Christ for salvation). However, it seemed like my definition matched the Christian world's definition, so I went with it. Sin was anything illegal by God's standards. Then about 3 or 4 years ago, I can't pin when my thoughts on this began to first change or why, but God began teaching me that my definition was not complete. In fact, it was simplistic and yet more complex than God's definition.
Love of the Father
God began to show me that He isn't some strict law-giver just sitting up there writing our rulebook and taking note every time we mess up. He isn't willy-nilly making up rules just for the fun of it and watching us try to jump through these hoops. No, that's not who He is at all. And when I began to look deeper, it was obvious that this idea of sin was conflicting with who I believed God to be. God, first and foremost, is love. He is loving; He loves us and loves through us. Why would a loving Father set unnecessary rules? He wouldn't. We just don't see the reasoning behind the rules. He is a good Father and wants what is absolutely best for us. Anything He classifies as a "don't" is not part of that best plan for our lives. We might think it's best, but guess what, He is smarter than we are. "For your thoughts are not My thoughts, neither are your ways My ways" declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Sin and Pain
When you began to see His plan for your life as better than your plan, you can accept that He knows what is right and what is wrong much easier. The things He warns us about have great potential to cause pain and suffering to us and oftentimes others. He is our Father, and He hates seeing His children in painful situations. Thus, He tries to direct us away from paths likely to lead there.
Viewing sin as all the "don'ts" was too simple in that there's not an exhaustive list. It could be anything that we do outside of that best plan. Often times, things that become sin in our lives are by design good things. For instance, food. We all need food to survive, and God is the one who gave us food to eat. However, if we have an unhealthy relationship with food and gorge ourselves, that is outside of God's best for us. We are sinning simply by eating too much.
On the other hand, seeing sin as the "don'ts" was too complex because it assumed that there was some deeper secret reasoning as to why God said so. Like when your parents say no to something without an explanation - they probably have one but just don't take the time to explain. Well as kids, that makes us frustrated and gives us the feeling like either there is no real reason or they aren't sharing it for an even more secret reason. Well He is God - He could just make up rules with the reason being because He's God. But He didn't, and He doesn't. All of His "rules" are simply because He loves us. He wants the very best for each of us.
So when you are considering something, is this sin or not? Ask yourself, is it truly in God's best plan for you? If not, then yes, consider it sin and stay far away. I know I don't want to settle for anything good or even something better when I know He has the best in mind.
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