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Max Lucado Waters Down Sin, Presents Sin as Merely a “Shortcut”

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Max Lucado, a prominent Christian author, recently discussed the concept of sin in a way that, while aiming for accessibility, inadvertently waters down the gravity of what sin truly is. Lucado describes sin as an “unwillingness to wait, to trust, to follow God’s plan,” illustrating his point with the biblical story of Esau and Jacob. While his view may offer a comfortable way to think about sin—almost framing it as a simple lapse in judgment—it strips away the profound theological weight that this word carries.

First and foremost, let us disabuse ourselves of the notion that sin is simply a matter of taking shortcuts in life. While it’s tempting to think of sin as just a “quick fix” that sidesteps God’s will, doing so ignores the deep-seated rebelliousness that underlies sinful behavior. The Bible doesn’t mince words—sin is an affront to God’s holiness. It is an open rebellion against His sovereignty and an affront to His nature and character.

The Hebrew word for sin is “chatta’ah,” which carries a root meaning of “missing the mark” or “going astray.” While it may sound benign to modern ears, in the biblical context, “missing the mark” carries far more severe connotations. It doesn’t merely refer to an accidental slip or a minor infraction—it implies a deliberate and conscious action that violates God’s moral law. In reality, you’re not just missing a target that you’re aiming for, hoping to get better with each try. Rather, you’re rejecting the divine standard, choosing instead to follow a path that leads away from God’s intentions for your life. Sin isn’t just a one-off mistake or a diversion, it’s a spiritual rebellion against God. The New Testament Greek term “hamartia” similarly defines sin as an act that opposes God’s law. In either case, sin is a calculated and willful defiance of God’s divine authority.

Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” According to this passage, sin isn’t about failing to wait or trust—it’s about a pervasive state of being that separates us from the glory, or the “moral perfection,” of God. We have turned our backs on our Creator, opting instead to follow our desires.

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Understanding the severity of sin requires us to grasp the holiness of God. In the book of Isaiah, God is depicted as thrice-holy, the Creator so righteous that even angels cover their faces in His presence (Isaiah 6:1-3). And this isn’t just a moral attribute, it’s a defining aspect of His being. When we sin, we are not just breaking arbitrary rules, we are grievously insulting the One who is Holiness itself.

The Bible is clear about the consequences of sin: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). It’s not just physical death but spiritual death—eternal separation from God. When we opt for the “shortcut,” as Lucado suggests, we aren’t merely cutting corners—we are choosing a path that leads us away from God, with irreversible consequences.

By presenting sin as merely a human tendency to opt for shortcuts, Lucado’s definition does a disservice to the gravity of what sin means in a biblical context. To present sin as merely “impatience” or a “lack of trust” is a drastic oversimplification. While these characteristics are certainly present in sin, sin is about outright defiance against God’s holy authority. When we fail to acknowledge this, we make the concept more palatable and less offensive, which can lead to a lack of conviction and repentance.

Failure to present sin as what it truly is to a Holy and righteous God—an act worthy of eternal damnation—doesn’t push us to seek God’s redemptive grace. If sin is just about taking shortcuts, then the solution would merely be to take the long route. But the biblical narrative presents a more dire reality: the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ, to bridge the gap that sin has caused between humanity and God.

It’s very important that we understand the concept of sin in its full biblical weight, recognizing it not as a mere shortcut or failure to trust but as a defiant rebellion against a holy God. Watering down sin by describing it in softer terms only serves to undermine the gravity of what we’re dealing with—a total affront to the God we claim to serve. As uncomfortable as it may be to confront, the rebellious nature of sin should propel us to seek God’s grace and salvation, which is the only path to reconciliation with our Creator.


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