Explaining Sin (Acts 16:30-31)

How do I explain sin to my child?


Sin can be defined in so many terms-missing the mark, doing something bad, following our desires instead of God’s. A theological definition may be any transgression of the law of God or lawlessness. The Bible makes this very clear.


Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3:4 (ESV)


But do any of these ideas truly resonate with a young child? As I prepare my son for baptism, I want to make sure that he understands the concept of sin and that he, and everyone in this world, is a sinner and needs a Savior, Jesus Christ, to reconcile and restore the broken relationship between himself and God. This is the Gospel and the Truth. But the Holy Spirit may present the truth to a seeker through many different ways.


Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Acts 16:30-31 (ESV)


The Philippian jailer had a dramatic conversion because he saw the difference in the lives of Paul and Silas. Beaten and chained, they responded to their torture by praying and singing hymns to God. When an earthquake rattled the prison, opening the doors, the jailer was about to kill  himself since he assumed all of the prisoners had escaped. But they didn’t! Paul cried out to the jailer to not harm himself for all the prisoners were still there. Trembling, the jailer understood that he was a sinner and desperately needed Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. He did not recite the steps to salvation but it absolutely clear that He understood the message of the Gospel and because of this, he was saved and baptized.


My son has Down syndrome. My son loves God. He may not be able to articulate this love with scholarly quotations or deep theological insight, but he doesn’t need to do this. God looks at his heart and knows the sincerity of his belief. He knows God created him and this world. He knows Jesus Christ is His Lord and Savior. He knows the Bible is God’s Word. My son loves to pray to God, for himself and for others. He reads His Bible and memorizes verses. He is unabashedly elated to share with others what God has done for him. And when he has done something to disobey God, he knows it is wrong. He understands this is sin. He understands the Gospel.


I wish I had as pure and selfless understanding of God as my son.


For every believer, the path the Holy Spirit leads them to Jesus Christ is different, but the end result of salvation is the same. Praise God for His grace and mercy to all of us!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.