We err one of two ways, many times. One way, is to acknowledge that sin is bad, but believe sin is distant from us, personally. The other way, is to realize that sin is all around us, even in our own hearts, but be ok with it.
I read what some Christians say about their relationship with sin. It almost appears that they are above sinning because they know how bad it is, but they don't see themselves as sinners against God, or maybe they see their own sin as, something more along the lines of 'mistakes' that are easily fixed. Many of these Christians live a life that looks holy, or at least they live up to a standard, whether self-made or based on their understanding of Scriptures.
The other group has no trouble acknowledging that sin is bad, but they assume that since all people are sinners, than that makes sin ok. They look at sin as part of the fabric that makes them up. They can be more tolerable toward the sins of others, unless the sin was directed against them.
What is common in both groups, is that in the end, most of the time, they fall in sin. The second group doesn't really 'fall' into sin, because they already think sin is acceptable. The first group doesn't think sin is acceptable, and are deceived into thinking they don't sin anymore, and are surprised when that temptation came and they didn't see it.
Many in this first group do not believe in what is called 'original sin'. They don't believe people are born with sinful natures, and therefore they believe that people choose to sin. They also don't understand from the Bible that sin is a heart issue. When a person sins, it is not because he was around other people who sinned (although living around those who practice sin will make the way easier for us to sin). The culture doesn't cause us to sin. We sin when we are led astray by our own desires. Those desires become more important to us, than God is, and we are drawn away toward something else our heart latches onto. Those desires may or may not be wrong in themselves. But our desire for them, when it is stronger than our desire for God, will lead us to temptation and ultimately sinning. People in this group also think that sinning involves activities like card playing, dancing, smoking, drinking, watching television and going to movies. I wonder if they have really thought through the issue of sin, and how our hearts are idol factories that work overtime if we let them.
The second group has made peace with sin, simply because they haven't read the rest of the story. The know that Jesus died to pay for sins, and I believe many are trusting that their sins are forgiven because they believe that fact, but, if we really understood the nature of sin, and what God has done to rescue people from sin, we wouldn't want to continue in it. If we have truly 'seen' God, we would give up every attachment to sin that we have. We would know that God is not ok with sin, and that is why He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins, but God's grace does not empower us to continue in sin. It gives us the power to say 'no' to sin and 'yes' to righteousness. God's great desire is for us to be reconciled to Him, not use His grace to empower us to continue to sin.
The Bible tells us to 'take the log out of our own eyes' and then we can help other people with their specks. The problem is, at least with the first group, is that they don't understand that their is a log in their eyes. Their log is blinding them to the truth. They can't deal with their own sin, because they can't see it. Anyone who really wants to, can stop playing cards or going to movies, but those aren't really sin issues in themselves. Because people are successful in saying no to these activities, they think they have stopped sinning. They haven't looked at the lust and idolatry in their own hearts. They can't see the bitterness and pride that is growing all over their hearts. They might not drink alcoholic beverages, but they may be slanderous and deceitful. They might be self-centered and arrogant. The list of heart issues is endless, but we don't look at them if we don't smoke or drink. But we look down on someone else in the church who does. I think it is interesting that Jesus told the Pharisees and Scribes that the prostitutes and tax collectors were going into the kingdom of God before they were. Many who are in this first group fall into sin. Some turn their backs on the Lord after that. They feel like they were deceived, when the problem is as simple as having a wrong belief system.
When Jesus was with the group of people who wanted the woman who was caught in adultery stoned, Jesus gave them a direction of what they could do. He told them that whoever was in the group who had not sinned was to cast the first stone. The group ended up leaving, and Jesus was alone with the woman. No one stoned her and Jesus did not condemn her either. But He did say to her, 'Go and sin no more'.
I like what C.J. Mahaney said one time. Here is the quote, and I will never forget it; 'Sin, though inevitable, is never acceptable'. Of course, we know that it is inevitable, but, we know that the answer is in the Cross. As long as we are on earth, we will live with the temptations to sin every day. But, because of what Jesus did on the Cross for us, we don't have to live in sin anymore. We have new hearts that want to do right. We still have our old natures, but we can put them to death every day.
Both groups of people err in the doctrine of sin and God's grace. Neither seem to understand the power or the purpose of the Cross, and why God did what He did for us in the Gospel. We are not above sin, nor should we continue in it. We should look at God's face and we will never be the same. But we will see how low and sinful we are, and the power of the Cross will be mighty to us.