Sin is Nothing to Boast About

A lot of Christians are familiar with the gist of 1 and 2 Corinthians. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth because, although they claimed they were Christians, they were still living in sin – and teaching some very un-Christian things. As we’d say in more modern times, they needed a serious dose of reality and for someone to set them straight.

But there was another issue with the Corinthians, and it’s something many Christians still struggle with today: they were boasting about their sin.

1 Corinthians, chapter 5 sets the scene. A man attending church in Corinth is “living in sin” (likely having sexual relations) with his stepmother. As Paul says, this is something to be shameful of, and the Corinthians should remove the man from their fellowship until he stops living in sin.

But what do the Corinthians do instead? They brag about the man’s sin! As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8:

Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.

Translation: living in sin is nothing to brag about – and we need to do away with our old, sinful lives if we want to celebrate eternally with Christ in Heaven.

Of course, doing away with our old, sinful lives – and repenting – is one of the most important things about being a Christian. But how can we lead new lives if we’re still boasting about our sin?

Sure, we can use our stories of our past selves to help teach others that anyone can turn away from sin and give themselves to Jesus. But sin itself is nothing to brag about. Think about it like this: why would you brag if you failed a test in school, had a university application rejected, or didn’t get the job you applied for? Or, you could think of it like this: if you were at the gates of Heaven and had to answer why you should be let in, would you really want to talk about the sinful things you’ve done? Probably not.

Paul’s own life serves as a great Biblical example. As the New Testament book of Acts tells us, before becoming a Christian, Paul – then known as Saul – hated those who believed in Jesus. He even helped have Christians arrested. But after his conversion, he gave his life to Christ – even when Christ warned him his life would be filled with hardship and suffering as a result. But in his letters (many of which, of course, are part of the New Testament), Paul only mentions his previous life as a sinner to make a point and bolster his arguments – and he certainly never speaks of his sinful past with pride.

Yes, we have all sinned. But we can use our past sins as lessons – lessons which we can use to warn others not to repeat our mistakes. But our sin is nothing to be proud of; our relationship with Christ is – a relationship anyone, of course, can have. Now that’s something we should tell people about.

Ben Mack Malaysia Airlines Going Places January 2017.jpg

After living for several years in Europe, Ben pursued a lifelong dream and moved to New Zealand. An Auckland-based writer, his work has appeared in The Washington Post, Business Insider, The New Zealand Herald, Idealog, Deutsche Welle, and others. He can be found on Twitter @benmack_nz.