Sin is not so much wickedness as an agglomeration of the mistakes of ignorance, principally the mistake of supposing happiness to lie in material things. Adam has the credit of putting the first rotten apple to the making of this pile.
The evil of sin lies as much in shirking the removal of the pile as in committing wrong acts. We are now engaged in adding to or subtracting from it. Jesus has thrown the strong light of truth on the heap, and some shade their eyes from it because they prefer darkness. They are like Pilate in a picture given recently by a writer in The Light of Reason, where the writer says Pilate was unable to understand that his success in life was not true success, and asked in derision, "What is truth?" Probably he had not examined the truth declared by Jesus, or he declined to accept it because his own road was easier.
"The wages of sin is death." If after seeing the light men persist in neglecting the duty shown by it, they must ultimately suffer. The first fruits of a continuance in sin may be a brief pleasure: then comes a longer pain—punishment—the natural effect of sin, and after the death of the body who shall say what further consequences? Finally, spiritual death unless we repent, turn, and find Eternal Life by doing right.
What then are these mistakes, the sum of which is so serious?
The mistake of supposing that happiness is attained by seeking our own—selfishness. Happiness is a worthy end to strive after. The happiness of others brings happiness to ourselves. This truth is so simple and so short that one wonders if that be all. Yet it is all that is necessary. It may be amplified, as in the Sermon on the Mount, and then it seems more.
But the great truth and guiding star of the Bible is Love.