So often we talk about sin in light of our actions. Is doing such-and-such action a sin?
Limiting sin to actions, however, misses an important reality. Sin is not something that pops up whenever we make a bad choice; it is itself a presence in the universe that ought never to have been. Sin is the presence of evil in the world; sin is death and destruction, sin is injustice, sin is lack of mercy.
It may be easier (or better) to view sin as a thing in itself which becomes manifest within certain actions. We can participate in sin that already exists, but we cannot create new instances of sin. And part of that sin exists already within us; it influences our actions, it blinds our aspirations, it disparages our hope and faith and love.
To say all have sinned is to say all are subject to temptations, subject to limited views of ourselves, of others, and our capacities. We are all subject to this brokenness that influences toward hatred, toward cynicism, bitterness and despair.
When we view sin this way, Christ dying for our sin looks entirely new: His death was not only to pay for our actions, but to rid our lives of this force that breaks us down, batters us from the inside out, and causes desperation, injustice and destruction across the globe.