The last thing we want to do is be offensive. This may have led to the attraction to speak of sin in new ways. Nowadays, many ministers receive training in counseling or clinical pastoral education. Speaking in terms of illness rather than sin seems to hold more promise of practical solutions for treatment. In addition, it is much less offensive than the harsh terms of legalism and judgment. Approaching a solution in terms of pathology or legalism will both lead to a dead end. The problem is neither a mere breaking of laws nor mental illness. The problem is a spiritual one.
I believe we need to return to the word, "sin." Nothing else is adequate to express the nature of what sin is. It is not merely a legal issue. If so, then laws should be enough to keep us from sinning. However, laws do not. At best, policemen "enforce" law. They bring compliance, not transformation. Transformation is first and foremost a work of the Holy Spirit. No policeman, counselor, or psychiatrist can bring about a transformation of our spirit. It is only when we are baptized that we experience a "washing of regeneration" and a "renewal by the Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
In Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation, Barbara Brown writes, "Sin is our only hope." When we lose the language of sin, we also lose the language of salvation. After all, sin is at the root of all our problems. We cannot deal with it if we ignore it. Instead we need to be frank about it.