In 1973, the world-renowned psychiatrist Karl Menninger (1893-1990) asked: Whatever Became of Sin? In his book he projected the day would come when sin would no longer be a part of conversation because, he speculated, the explanation of sin and wrongdoing would be replaced by rationalizations excusing individual accountability. Today we are there. In 2021, sin is a protected human right. There is no fear of God; no respect for the Lord. “Scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge” (Proverbs 1:22).
Sin is not determined by the subjective mind of man, or by what offends his sensitivities. “Sin is the transgression of the Law” (1 John 3:4). Sin is missing the mark, missing the target. Which mark and which target? That of absolute holiness set forth in the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God.
‘‘Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain and be there, and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and the commandment which I have written, that you might teach them’” (Exodus 24:12). “When He had made an end of speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). “The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets” (Exodus 32:16).
To not do “What thou shalt,” or to do “What thou shalt not” is sin. Sin separates from God. Sin constructs a wall over which no one can climb to God. Corrupt minds can rationalize human behavior to deny sin. They cannot make sin, or its consequence disappear. There is nothing beautiful about sin, and there is no pretty way to describe its consequence. Unrepented sin condemns to hell. “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them” (Galatians 3:10; cf. Deuteronomy 27).
They who reject God are a law unto themselves. Inasmuch as they are unregenerate recalcitrants, their “lawmaker” is the devil, the father of lies and deceit. Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). They who reject God’s law are a law unto themselves. They serve their own agenda, their own pleasures. They bend the law and will of God to fit their will, the moment, the time, and their own whims.
As we look about us, we echo the question of Karl Menninger. Today, decency, morality, civility, neighborly courtesy are being turned on their ear in a society run amok. Respect for God’s creation of marriage, genders, life in the womb (and outside of it), social mores, speaking truth, honesty, individual freedom, religious freedom—all have fallen victim to man’s innate desire to do what is “right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2). “Whatever became of sin?” Without even considering the deeper consequence relating to the impenitent sinners’ existence in eternity, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). We are seeing that regularly on the streets; we are seeing it in the demise of a civil society.
If one were minded to make an excuse for the behavior of a godless society—and there is no excuse—we might blame ignorance. By ignorance, they who walk in sin sentence themselves to death because they have rejected the truth of sin and its consequence. There is no truth in the father of lies, and consequently no truth in his followers. Not facing the reality of sin, they reject the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is “The way, the TRUTH, and the Life…” (John 14:6). In our 2021 society, in our country, where recognition of sin is passe—but sin itself is not—we see rationalizations excusing individual accountability.
Since the devil deceived Adam and Eve, there is no new sin under the sun. Living the truth in word and deed, inasmuch as it is a fruit of a sanctified life in Christ is (in a society which denies the true God), a rare commodity. As we observe our society, from the political world to the halls of congress–where truth is whatever fits an agenda–, to the street, to the business world, to the on-going “pandemic”, to the world scene, to the threat of the renewal of war in Afghanistan as this is being written–what is the truth? The expression of truth has gone the way of the denial of sin! Whom can we trust?
One can call a manure pile by another name. It is still what it is. Calling good what God calls sin does not change an evil act. Sin is still sin in the eyes of Him Who said, “Thou shalt…,” and “Thou shalt not…”. If Bible-deniers in society have any acquaintance with the Bible, they hate or twist Bible truth because they do not like what it says about their acts or themselves. They turn on those who speak Scripture because they do not want to be reminded of what the Bible says about sin and its judgment.
But fellow Christian, stop! Think about it, first of all, as it relates to you in society. Among the lost of the world were we. Before feeling smug about oneself, the Christ-believer must examine himself in the light of God’s Word which says, “If you love me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). So how is it going with us? Still in the flesh, and cognizant of the weakness (or is it strength) of the flesh, we cannot claim to be without sin. Our own sins behoove us to go to the Lord daily in contrition and repentance: “I have sinned. Lord forgive me. Help me to reflect your will in my life before the world. Help me to show by my life that my love for You is honest and above reproach.”
It is unconscionable that some churches have accommodated themselves to the world. By design, or out of fear of offending someone, many refuse to call sin, sin. Before God and man, they must answer two questions: “Whatever became of sin” and “Whatever happened to Truth?” The questions are important because without the truth about sin, there is no antidote to sin, and no release from the consequence of sin. Heterodox churches may profess to believe the Bible; they may quote it. If they do not accept and teach the Bible as the wholly inspired Word of God and do not accept or teach the Holy Scripture as divine, unalterable, truth in all its parts, from Genesis to Revelation, they contribute to the sin problem and harm not only society, but destroy souls.
The Gospel, if it is preached, falls on deaf ears, when there is no honesty about sin. Let us say up front—though society, and even the church may deny the truth, distort the truth, twist the truth, and color the truth (which is a lie)–truth is fact; it is reality; truth is incontrovertible! Truth has not disappeared, and truth is not going away! Before the Reformation the question was asked. It was hidden by the deceit of men, but it did not disappear. The light of the truth overcame the darkness, as surely as the sun rose in the morning. Think of an airplane flight. As the plane rises through the clouds, one sees the brightness of the sun. The sun is always shining.
All men are liars, that is demonstrable. The Triune God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, is Truth personified in Jesus Christ. The eternal God is eternal truth.
“God is not a man, that He should lie…” (Numbers 23:19).
We live “in hope of eternal life which God, Who cannot lie, promised before time began…”(Titus 1:2).
God showed “by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie [that] we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18).
The word of men is suspect. The Word of God is truth. Jesus, “The way, the truth, and the life,” prayed to His Father: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Temples have been burned, steeples have fallen, but the truth of God has endured. Men tried to kill the truth when they hung Jesus on the cross. By God’s grace His blood washed away our sins. He died and reconciled us unto God. He arose. In the darkest of times on this earth the eternal sun shines because the Son of God lives. We are blessed as we flee for comfort to Him and, more so, in faith lay hold of the hope set before us.
The Bible speaks truth of sin—its definition, its reality, its consequence in time and for eternity. It shows the solution to sin—Christ Jesus. The Bible speaks truth, punctuated by our Savior’s resurrection from the dead. It calls to repentance and gives light and life to all who by the Spirit believe the truth.
Truth is found in God’s Word and promise. When trials and afflictions, fears and doubts, sorrows and frustrations, and pain and tears of this life are past, we shall know the fruition of every promise of our God Who says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13), by grace through faith in Christ.
God’s Word and truth are synonymous. “The Word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:6-8). Rejecters of the Word will forever be susceptible to the lies of Satan who deceives the unbelieving world.
“Whatever happened to truth?” The truth lives and abides forever. Whether you find it depends on where you are looking, and where your hope lies!