That is, living according to our own inclinations. We think that we have everything under control. We want to decide ourselves how a person comes into the world, what genes he should have and how he should behave. We even claim responsibility for deciding the moment of death. The proverbial button seemingly makes it possible for us to determine the end of the whole world.

'I can do it by myself', is no longer the longed-for expression of a child who is slowly becoming independent. It is symptomatic of the whole human race.

We have become separated from God, banished Him from our lives. Our decision has been to rebel against Him. We want to liberate ourselves from a God who appears to want to take away our freedom with well-meaning commandments. Self-determination is the motto.

The question of guilt has no place in this philosophy of life, and yet on the one hand our lives abound with flowery expressions of excuse, and on the other with overriding feelings of guilt. We believe in sin, but our relationship to this subject has been spoiled.

The Bible tries to make it clear by making us aware of guilt and showing us ways in which we can overcome.


The story of sin is old. Its beginning is described in Genesis 3:1-19. Because people want to be like God they overstep the boundaries set by him. They become guilty. They try to hide from God and transfer their guilt on to others.


The relationship of man to God was destroyed as a result of the fall into sin. This separation from God was not without its awful results. These results are indicated in the events which are portrayed in the Word of God. Read Genesis chapters 4-11.

Cain does not believe that he is loved by God. Eaten up with envy and jealousy he murders his brother Abel. From now on he is without peace and condemned to spend his life on the run.

Man's ego is beyond measurement. He wants to build a tower which will reach to heaven. The attempt to make a name for himself ends in chaos. Men are scattered to different countries and no longer speak a common language.

From disobedience in paradise to the building of the tower of Babel to the present day our destroyed relationship with God has had its effects in every area of life. Nothing has remained sacred:

'"All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no-one who does good, not even one."'
Romans 3:12.


Sin means you are moving in the wrong direction. You have turned off from the right way. Your thoughts and actions miss the mark. Your relationship to God is destroyed and the distance from Him gets greater and greater, but your iniquities have separated you from your God.

'Your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.' Isaiah 59:2.


Observed closely, it is clear that sin occurs on two levels. We can portray the destroyed relationship with God as the inside guilty behaviour. In the case of Adam and Eve the eating of the fruit is the outside. On the outside we see what has taken place on the inside. Our outward behaviour is therefore always the result of an inner development. In this way can be seen what our inner relationship to God looks like. We are estranged from God, the Lord of life.

It does not have to be a question of spectacular wrong-doing. Even if our outward behaviour seems ever so harmless, through it can still be recognized the inward part, the letting go of God and the misdirection of our life.


Our 'single mistakes', either small or large, are therefore not all decisive. It is the cause which is important, our separation from God. Before God no man can do what he wants, even if contemporary society imposes no restraints upon him. Thus many use every 'freedom'. The question is simply what they understand by this.

One thing is clear. Each person is responsible for his own actions. There is nothing we can do about that. We can see from the consequences the extent to which we enjoy this supposed freedom

There is only real freedom in our relationship with God. It is immaterial how good our deeds are or how much we might strive to be decent people: without God we remain sinners.


Without fail, sin leads to death and everything that is linked to this - fear, hatred, pain, sickness and suffering of all kinds. Nobody is spared. With all the self-determination in the world we cannot manage to free ourselves from these things.

Just as futile is the attempt to make ourselves into 'good people'. The Bible expresses this with the following image:

'Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.'
Jeremiah 13:23.

Even sociologists and psychologists do not deny this fact in the final analysis. They may well be able to help people in various ways to come to terms with themselves and their environment better, but they cannot bring genuine liberation. This is only possible through God's complete re-creation of man.


To be made new by God we must first of all recognize that this fundamental is vital for our lives.

'If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.'
1 John 1:8.

Every person makes mistakes. It is important to be aware of them and to confess them. Jesus says:

'"Repent and believe the good news!"'
Mark 1:15.

For proper confession we need to call sin by its right name before Jesus. Problems we have with others must also be discussed with the people concerned (Luke 19:8,9).

Confession and remorse are very closely related. Confession of sin involves genuine sadness and departure from sin.

Whoever is honest and open as far as his mistakes are concerned will certainly have a good experience with God. Not only will his sins be forgiven him, but he will experience what the Bible promises:

'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.' 1 John 1:9.

Forgiveness is not without results. We experience genuine inner peace. Tortured feelings of guilt are taken from us. Finally we can take a deep breath and develop a healthy relationship to God and our fellow human beings. God stretches His hand out towards us. Now it is just a question of holding on to it.

'Man's great guilt does not lie in the sins he commits, for the temptation is great and his strength weak. The great guilt of man is that at all times he can turn round but does not do so.' Martin Buber.


Quiz Form

  1. Tick the true answers to show whether the following statements are true or false:

    Sin was planned by God
    There was no cause for revolt against God
    Satan is the originator of sin
    Sin is essentially lack of trust in God
    Genuine freedom only exists where there is no obligation to God
    To successfully break out of the mould of selfishness and sin we need God working in us
    God forgives us our sins no matter what our attitude is
    God is willing to forgive our sins whenever we ask

  2. The results of sin are:
    (tick the correct answers)

    A destroyed relationship with God
    A destroyed relationship with other people
    The fact that you can become a good person with the greatest of effort
    All people must die

  3. Freedom from sin us possible:
    (tick the correct answers)

    By means of education
    Through Christ
    Through psychology and sociology
    Through remorse and confession

  4. What do you think about sin and guilt?

  5. In your opinion, to what extent is Christ necessary for the forgiveness of sins?

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