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Sometimes people get stuck trying to answer this question. As soon as we begin to talk about sin, we can sound judgmental. The reason we talk about sin isn’t to blame or judge each other. It’s because we can’t really know God without understanding sin. But as with all of our questions about God and faith, this question needs to be answered with love and grace, because that’s how God treats all of us sinners—with love and grace.

Sin is anything that is contrary to the will of God. It is a distortion of the world God made from the perfection God intended. It can be stubbornness, rebellion, or outright disobedience. Sin is the cause of all pain, hurt, confusion, and doubt in the world. And sin is at work inside of us. Sin distorts our hearts and obstructs our view of God. This distances us from God, putting a barrier between us.

Genesis tells us that humans were created in the image of God and that we were created to reflect his glory. Romans 3:23 reminds us that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The glory of the Lord, which we were intended to reflect and experience, is now dimmed because of the entrance of sin into the world. Sin entered the world because we, humans, chose to turn away from God. Once sin infected us, it took over our hearts and divided us from God.

However, God has not just left us in our sinful state. Because God loves us, he has provided us a way out of this life of sin, a way to be in relationship with him as he originally intended: salvation in Christ.