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Sins and sinfulness

If God made a good world, why has it gone so horribly wrong?

This persistent question comprises a mixture of theological and observational truth: God did make the world and he made it "good" but, ever since, it has been corrupted by evil. While they may have different views of its origins, every religion and philosophical worldview has its theories of the origin of evil, many of which overlap in the malevolent figure of a serpent or sea monster. According to the Bible, this was Satan: a rebellious angel who took the form of a creature to tempt those whom God had appointed as care-takers of all he had made, as a further expression of enmity towards his former master.

Satan's plan worked, insofar as it had the desired effect of spoiling creation. Yet the seeds of its own destruction were also within it because it unleashed God's own plan - to redeem the world - which includes the ultimate destruction of Satan himself (Revelation 20). So Satan's days are numbered and, even in the days in between, he does not get things all his own way. The verdict God pronounces at the crime scene itself makes this clear: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head..." (Genesis 3.15).

Yet that verse goes on to say "... and you will bite his heel." And that is why we continue to be plagued by sin. Satan may have been judged by God in Eden and defeated by Jesus on the cross but, until he is fully and finally dealt with, his pernicious influence remains. And we are all suffering the consequences in terms of the dysfunctioning of our world. What distinguishes us are the different ways in which we understand the problem, according to our various belief systems.

Christians believe that every individual needs to reach a point in their life where they recognise the different between the sins we all commit, as fallible creatures, and the sinfulness that derives from Satan's original "infection" of God's good creation. That is the crucial insight because that is the root of our problem: not that we make mistakes or commit sins but that we are "hard-wired" to Satan's dastardly rebelliousness - against God, the world and one another. The next step is to acknowledge that the problem of evil is bigger than we are, yet God is greater still. And that brings us to the point of confession, which is the game-changer. In giving us freewill God will never force our conversion but, the minute we admit to our fallen condition and appeal to him for deliverance, he is swift to respond and mighty to save.

Have you reached that point? Can you help bring someone you know or love to that point? This is our calling as Christians and this is why our faithfulness to that calling matters more than anything else. The stakes could not be higher because they go to the root of our problem and they reach to the summit of our eternal destiny...

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