Babies woo us easily. It’s hard not to smile back at a smiling baby. Just try. The response is natural, maybe even built into our genes. Yet have you ever heard someone look at a baby and say, “Little sinner”? Do you believe a baby is a little sinner? In this series of posts, I will explore this question and give an answer at the end.
First, I want to look at what it means to be a sinner. There are sinners in the world without doubt. A case in point are the prison camps in North Korea, where prisoners are starved, worked to exhaustion, and tortured every day. But such atrocities against other human beings is not the essence of sin, though it is the result. Sin is most of all about man and God, not man and other men. To be a sinner is to be separated from God.
- Sinners do not understand God or themselves. They are ignorant. They can’t understand spiritual realities. God is spirit. People are spiritual beings. And everything in creation has a spiritual source. Thomas Merton wrote, “Everything that is, is holy,” meaning that everything in the universe is set apart for God, to be in relation to Him. Sinners are dead because they are cut off from relationship with God.
- Sinners are hardened in their hearts towards God. They don’t understand and they don’t want to. Sinners will themselves away from relationship with God. Like Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not give into God’s command to let the Israelites go free, sinners oppose God’s will. They say to God, “Not your will, but my will be done.”
- Sinners are condemned. The apostle John says that those who do not believe are condemned already; before Christ came into the world, before man had to chance to see Jesus, people were already condemned. How so? Sinners are condemned in that they are allowed to disbelieve and reject God’s love. God does not just condemn people because they disbelieve him; rather, He condemns them by allowing them to disbelieve in Him. God says to sinners who oppose Him, “Thy will be done.”