It can be both startling and surprising when I meet Christians (or engage with Christians online) who, for all their talk of Christianity, can’t seem to make sense of the Bible. How could this be?

How could it be that we would become so disoriented in our own worldview that our own book wouldn’t make sense to us?

JI Packer describes one prominent reason one reason why the Bible doesn’t make sense to people: they don’t understand sin.

iSINThe subject of sin is vital knowledge. To say that our first need in life is to learn about sin may sound strange, but in the sense intended it is profoundly true. If you have not learned about sin, you cannot understand yourself, or your fellowmen, or the world you live in, or the Christian faith. And you will not be able to make head or tail of the Bible. For the Bible is an exposition God’s answer to the problem of human sin, and unless you have that problem clearly before you, you will keep missing the point of what it says. Apart from the first two chapters of Genesis, which set the stage, the real subject of every chapter of the Bible is what God does about our sins. Lose sight of this theme, and you lose your way in the Bible at once. With that, the love of God, the meaning of salvation, and the message of the gospel will all become closed books to you; you may still these talk of things, but you will no longer know what you are talking about. It is clear, therefore, that we need to fix in our minds what our ancestors would have called “clear views of sin.” 1

‘The subject of sin is vital knowledge’ indeed. May God make us faithful to study it, know it, read the Bible, and relate to our God in light of all that he has shown us about our sin.

Notes:

  1. JI Packer, God’s Words, 70.