John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

If Sin is the Problem, What's the Solution?

In our class Sunday afternoon, we saw how sin entered the world, embedded itself in the hearts and minds of men and women and ruined God's wonderful plan to create a community of people who would share in his joy and beauty. At least that's what it looked like.

Sin is the problem that keeps us from experiencing the life God wants for us. The life we always wanted but never thought possible. The life the Old Testament prophets described in amazing picturesque language. The life characterized by the word “Shalom”. Life as it is supposed to be.

Sin prevents us from entering into the joy of God, the peace of God, the love and rest and fulfillment he has purchased for us at immeasurable cost. Sin disrupts and destroys and corrodes everything it touches. It is pervasive and persistent. It has touched everything about me: my heart, my mind, my body, my feelings, my thoughts, my actions. It has touched everything about our world: governments, businesses, families, churches. There is not one part of me or of this world that is untainted by the disruptive effects of sin.

Sin is bad — far worse than words can describe.

But sin is not the final word.

Evil rolls across the ages, but so does good. Good has its own momentum. Corruption never wholly succeeds. (Even blasphemers acknowledge God.) Creation is stronger than sin and grace stronger still. Creation and grace are anvils that have worn out a lot of our hammers.

To speak of sin by itself, to speak of it apart from the realities of creation and grace, is to forget the resolve of God. God wants shalom and will pay any price to get it back. Human sin is stubborn, but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way. Moreover, to speak of sin by itself is to misunderstand its nature: sin is only a parasite, a vandal, a spoiler. Sinful life is a partly depressing, partly ludicrous caricature of genuine human life. To concentrate on our rebellion, defection, and folly — to say to the world “I have some bad news and I have some bad news” — is to forget that the center of the Christian faith is not our sin but our Savior. To speak of sin without grace is to minimize the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, and the hope of shalom. (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, pp. 198-99)

Sin is the problem; grace is the solution. Grace is not a way of resolving the problem provided we combine it with other things. Grace is the once-and-for-all, paid-in-full, settled-for-good resolution.

Grace is not a solution; grace is the solution.

And it’s freely available to each and every one of us.