Don Carson’s contribution to the book, Fallen: A Theology of Sin, is an excellent piece in which he talks about the significance of sin in Scripture and life. Near the beginning of the essay he says,
“There can be no agreement as to what salvation is unless there is agreement as to that from which salvation rescues us. The problem and the solution hang together: the one explicates the other. It is impossible to gain a deep grasp of what the cross achieves without plunging into a deep grasp of what sin is; conversely, to augment one’s understanding of the cross is to augment one’s understanding of sin.”
Carson goes on in the article to lay out and explain some theological structures that are shaped by what the Bible teaches about sin – and that therefore shape our understanding of sin. Here they are:
1) Sin is tied to passages that disclose important things about God [who he is and what he’s like].
2) Sin is tied to the work of Satan.
3) Sin is depicted in many ways [in the Bible].
4) Sin is enmeshed in theological constructions [e.g. anthropology, pneumatology, soteriology, etc.].
5) Reflection on sin is necessary to understand suffering and evil.
If you want to read Carson’s discussion of these points, you’ll have to get the book. Here’s one more helpful note where Carson summarizes the importance of understanding sin’s significance in the Bible:
“…If we do not comprehend the massive role that sin plays in the Bible…, we shall misread the Bible. Positively, a sober and realistic grasp of sin is one of the things necessary to read the Bible in a percipient [perceptive – spl] fashion; it is one of the required criteria for a responsible hermeneutic.”
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)