In many corners of Western Christianity it has become very unpopular to speak candidly of sin and transgression. Critics of sin-talk remind us that it is, of course, an offensive topic that reminds people how bad off they really are. Thinking about sin makes people uncomfortable and depressed. Therefore, they say, we shouldn’t bring it up. Instead, let’s simply talk about how sweet Jesus is and how important it is for us to be like him. The problem with such treacle is that it is not much Christian. It is sentimental moralism that sees humanity’s biggest problem as not following Jesus’ example. It fails to recognize that we do not need mere example; we need redemption.
Further, such talk fails to comprehend the relationship between the ugliness of sin and the sweetness of Christ. Only with a growing understanding of our own depravity can we gain a deeper and more profound appreciation for the beauty of Christ. The scriptures remind us that one who will die for a good man is a rare find. If you are looking for someone who will offer himself for an evil man, well, don’t hold your breath. The great glory and grace of the cross comes with a deeper recognition of just how opposed to God the guilty sinner really is. Scripture describes us as “enemies” of God and “children of wrath.” When we begin to see how deeply we have offended God and how much we deserve his righteous wrath, then we will see the beauty of Christ in new and deeper ways. He is the one who bore his own just wrath in our place. The offended took the place of the guilty. He is the one who died for bad men and women. And he is all the more glorious and beautiful for it. We do speak of sin for its own sake. We acknowledge its reality to the end of having a deeper grasp of the majesty, of the magnificence, of the splendor, of the wonder, of the grandeur, of the glory, of the grace of the person of Christ.