God wants to be close to us. God desires to be close to us just like a loving parent desires to be close to his/her children. This desire of God to be close to us did not start in the New Testament with Jesus. Look at this picture, from the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament. This represents a picture of God's presence amongst His beloved people, the Nation of Israel. He wanted SO MUCH to dwell with them that he even had them put their tents all around his house! He could have told them that they had to travel to the next mountain to spend time with Him, but that's not what He did!
God created us in His image - to reflect His image of LOVE to all around us. Just like the moon absorbs and reflects the light of the sun, we were created to absorb and reflect the light of God, who is the epitome of LOVE. God designed us to be social beings who live in community with Him and with others. God himself lives in community with Jesus and with the Spirit of Holiness. LOVE finds its fulfillment only when lived in community with others. God created us to LOVE us, because He is LOVE. (See 1 John 4:16) And, we were created to love one another and God.
What is sin? Sin is any behavior in us that goes against the image of God that we were created to reflect. It can also be described as a "distortion" or "muddying" of God's image.
What is the root of all sin? The root of sin is pride. This is the type of thinking that sets us above God and in judgment of God. It leads us to distance ourselves from a relationship with God and the path He is walking on. When we choose to live independent from God - from His protection and value system - we become captive to the devil's value system. Our lives slowly begin to spiritually decay as they are prey to the devil's abuse.
How did sin enter the world? It began with a lie (also known as a half-truth). The prideful devil (serpent) planted a lie - seed of distrust about God - in the lives of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He challenged their worth to God while also appealing to their desire for power, which God had just granted them! They chose to embrace the lie and believed the worst about God instead of talking with God about the serpent's statements. Their pride was evident in how they handled this situation and it led to them hiding from (distancing themselves from) God and to them losing their power to the devil. Making this choice to function apart from God instead of in relationship with Him planted the "sin toxin" in their lives and this spiritual illness has spread to all humanity.
What are the symptoms of this "spiritual illness"? Jesus described the symptoms of someone who is "unclean" and on this path of spiritual decay: "All of you listen, and try to understand. Food that goes into your body is not what spiritually defiles you; It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you." Mark 7:14-23
How does our sin affect others? When we sin we are distorting God's image to others. This is especially noteable in the lives of our children. If we have been abusive parents, it is highly likely that they will think that God is abusive too. Jesus wants us to deal with sin radically, especially when it has the potential to affect children. Here is what he said about this: “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, ‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.' Mark 9:42-48
How does our sin affect God? It grieves God. See Genesis 6:5. God is the embodiment of empathy. He feels each person's need. He cares about each one of us equally. When we deliberately hurt one another or neglect one another, he is not pleased. When we continue to abuse one another, he is deeply grieved. Jesus described this in Matthew 25:31-46 in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. He says that he personally feels our care for one another, as well as our neglect of one another.
What are some specific analogies God uses to describe what sin does in our lives? God is an amazing teacher. He uses various analogies to teach us about the destructive power of sin.
Sin is like dirt; it muddies us up and needs to be cleansed.
Sin is like a veil; it blocks our ability to see the abundant life God has planned for us and needs to be removed.
Sin is like mold and mildew; it starts out miniscule but grows and infests its whole environment if not dealt with.
Sin is like leprosy; it destroys one's ability to feel and spreads to others.
Sin isolates us - it causes us to hide from God and separate ourselves from others.
Sin is like a spiritual heart disease that soils our pure hearts and eventually hardens them.
How can we be free from the oppression of sin? Jesus volunteered to come to earth to free us.