In the first century, Jesus revealed that the religious leaders were just as guilty of sin as those whom they criticized (harlots, publicans, etc.). Their covenant with Rome had brought about the very situation that forced their fellow countrymen into trying to survive through unlawful means. While they sat in seats of comfort, pointed their fingers, and accused the people of sin (notice how it’s sexual a majority of the time), they were unaware that they were just as guilty because they had been trapped by the root of all evil.
When we think of sin in this way, we leave behind the purely individualistic idea of sin that we typically hyper-focus on, and we move towards a better (and more accurate) understanding of sin from a corporate perspective. This way of thinking of sin may be uncomfortable, but it is the way that the prophets, Jesus, and Paul often viewed sin.
Daniel, though he was only a teenager when he was carried into Babylon, prayed, “Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You” (Daniel 9:8).
Jesus, demonstrating solidarity with Israel, submitted to the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Though He had not sinned personally, Jesus followed John’s command because He was a member of a nation that was in desperate need of a change of heart.
Paul wrote to the Roman church that was on the verge of collapse due to competition and rivalry, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men” (Romans 5:18). Regardless of their nationality, they had bought into the lie resulting in death, but, regardless of their nationality, Jesus granted them life.
This sort of sin is usually identifiable through an “us versus them” mentality. Jew versus Greek. Bond versus free. Male versus female. Watch the nightly news or listen to political speeches and no side takes responsibility for the problems in our world. “If we could just get rid of the RIGHT.” “If only we could vote those on the LEFT out of office.” “THEY are the problem.” “THOSE PEOPLE cause all of the issues in the world.”
The reality is, however, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. All have bought into the lie to some degree. And all need Christ. True peace will never come through competition, rivalry, and violence. It will only come through the good news of the Christ. We need to take responsibility for the problems in our country and world. You may be like Daniel or Jesus and not personally guilty or responsible for the evil around you, but if they could humble themselves and claim responsibility, then so can you.