You could be the first person in 2000 years to discover the 'real' truth on this topic, or you could just be plain wrong: redefining sin to suit our ears.
There is nothing new under the sun but there has been a 'new' wave to authors and pastors pushing for a new perspective on sin. Sin, they argue, is not a problem because God loves us. God isn't angry at sin. Sin curtails our potential, and judgement is just a lie made up by those church leader types to keep you under control.
Sin becomes a 'feeling' of being separate from God. As one author puts it, "In the cross we see the end of the 'fallen mind' into union and fellowship with God." Another author sees it like this; "Jesus did take our place on the cross, and he certainly was punished. But the punishments didn't come from his Father. When we begin to see our father through the eyes of Grace, we understand that the cross wasn't a courtroom. Rather, Jesus sacrificed himself for us by taking our sin into himself so we could be healed from its deadly effect." The writer continues, "The death of Jesus Christ was not punishment from the hands of an angry God; it was the Son's ultimate identification with fallen Adam, as the One who lives in fellowship with the Father in the Spirit."
Now re-definitions such as these sound appealing but the argument is specious. That is, it sounds ok but is actually just plain wrong. At the crux of it, all these views come from a self-centred angle on sin, not a God centred view. They also fail to account for the Bible's central storyline: the development of the Law and the Ten Commandments, the sacrificial system to atone for the breaking of this Law, and the fulfilment of the Law through Jesus' death, reconciling us back into God's presence. This is when the true love of God and His grace is really amplified.
In summary, the big issue is this: if you change 'sin', you change the Jesus that came to conquer sin. And that means a different gospel.
Searching for a definition
Whenever we are searching for answers or definitions it's importantto go to the primary source, the Bible. By wrestling with the concept of sin, as it is developed throughout the Bible, we gain an understanding that sin is primarily an attack on God. In Genesis chapter 3, we see how an intimate relationship between Adam/Eve and God is broken because of sin. Sin here was all about rebellion against God. In essence, actively ignoring God and being their own god by making their own rules. The result of this sin was that Adam and Eve could not be in the presence of a holy and pure God. In an act of grace, God does not bring justice upon them for their rebellion but sends them out of his presence. This leads to a physical and spiritual separation (i.e. death).
The rest of the Bible's story is about God reaching out to a sinful people to bring them back into His presence. God moves to reconcile this relationship and pay the punishment for sinin the process. This plan starts with the development of the sacrificial system as a shadow of what Jesus would do for us on the cross as the 'Passover Lamb'. We see the development of the Tabernacle and Temple as a place to meet with God, but only with asacrifice as a sign of appeased for sin. This, again, is a shadow of the Emmanuel, Jesus.
When Jesus is about to be born the angels say His name is Jesus "because He will save His people from their sins" (Luke 2). As a result, Jesus' sacrificial death allows all who follow Him to be declared just/right before God. This is because Jesus has taken God's punishment for our sin. It is the fulfilment of the Old Testament sacrificial system.
The main point it that God gets the glory, not us. His plan and His work of salvation show His love and grace. The problem when you change sin is that you are changing HIS salvation plan.
In his brilliant work, "The Justification Reader", Thomas Oden explains that the central theme of the Christian faith is the doctrine of justification. This doctrine has been the one held by all Christians: Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestant. It is also, he argues, the litmus test for heresy. The nature of justification is pardon. That is, the law has been broken and justice must be upheld. But Jesus takes this punishment and graciously provides His right standing before the Judge. That is, what God demands - holiness and justice - He actually provides in Jesus. This is the gospel: from sin to salvation.
Changing sin is a sin
The new definition of sin I mentioned at the start of this article changes this key justification concept and therefore changes the gospel as it has been known for 2000years. So what do you think? Is this a discovery of the true gospel, previously hidden? Or just a wrong redefinition of sin?
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover.html