Sin is literally missing the mark. When most people think of sin, they think of the Ten Commandments. When most people think of sinners they think of murders, idolators, and adulterers. There is a natural human tendency to think of the Hitlers and child molesters of the world as sinners, and ourselves as "perhaps not perfect" but certainly not in the same category. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus corrected this false self-righteous view of ourselves with these eye-opening words:
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, `Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, `Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, `You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:21-28)
The bottom line is that there is absolutely no room for self-righteousness. There is absolutely no basis for a Santa Claus theology that promises toys and rewards for those who have been good. No one is good enough "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23 ) "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
Sin as darkness
Ps. 82:5 "They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
Isa. 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Isa. 50:10 Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.
Isa. 59:7-10 Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace. So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead.
Micah 7:8-9 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD's wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.
Matt. 6:23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
John 3:19-20 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
Rom. 13:12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Eph. 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
Col. 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
1Ths. 5:4-5 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
1John 1:5-6 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
Sin brings death
Jer. 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Gen. 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Deut. 24:16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.
Prov. 10:16 The wages of the righteous bring them life, but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.
Ezek. 18:4 For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son --both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.
Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Eph. 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
Col. 2:13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
James 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
'Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers."