The root of everything wrong with our life and the world around us is sin. Anyone who has been to Sunday school more than once knows that. But it’s not always what you think. There are three different dynamics to sin that each effect every one of us in different ways.
We are most familiar with personal sin. This kind of sin represents our open rebellion against God. It’s what James speaks of when he says “It is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” It’s what we’re all bent towards from birth because of a sin nature inherited from our parents, and theirs all the way back to Adam and Eve.
There’s no doubt that personal sin leads to all sorts of suffering and struggle in our life. The antidote is humble repentance before God and accepting the forgiveness Jesus offers through his substitutional atonement for our sin on the cross.
The Sin of Others
What we think less often about is the effect of others sins on us. When others sin against us, either through abuse or neglect, it does damage to us. Sins of abuse are when people say or do things to us that shouldn’t be said or done. Things that impact us as kids and adults. Sins of neglect are when people fail to provide something in our life that we needed from them. These can be harder to identify because they represent an absence of something. It’s hard to point your finger at an absence.
In either case, the impact we experience from the sins of others can have a tremendous effect on our thoughts, feelings, and relationships. Identifying and understanding these wounds opens the doors to healing. Forgiveness is important, but forgiving you for hitting me in the head with a board doesn’t make the lump on my head or the stars I’m seeing immediately go away. Sometimes healing requires more than just forgiveness.
Sins Effect on Nature
When sin entered the world back in the garden of Eden it brought with it disease, decay, and ultimately death. It affects every aspect of creation, including our bodies. It’s why we are on a course to die from the moment we are birthed. It’s why some are born with defects, predispositions towards anger or addiction, or proneness to sickness or depression.
Our brain is an organ, just like any other organ in our body. If we pop open your head we can poke it with a stick, though I wouldn’t recommend it. Just like any other part of our body, our brain is affected by sins influence in the world. It faces its own struggles that can get in the way of our daily life.
Somehow, we tend to take the difficulties our brain organ faces more personally than that of our kidneys or liver. We interpret struggles of anxiety or depression as a personal failure. Perhaps that is because sometimes personal sin can contribute to these struggles as well. It would be a mistake though to see all emotional or mental health struggles through the lens of personal sin. Very often it has more to do with the frailties of our sin affected the human body than personal sin alone.
The takeaway is this: When trying to understand “the root” of the struggles we or others face we need to look at the person holistically. If we are going to care for ourselves or those we lead well, it is necessary to consider not only the impact of personal sin, but also that of the sins of others and sins impact on the body.
Likewise, when approaching prevention or care for a struggle, we need to think holistically.