The Bible and Sin Part 1
Sin: Man's Most Devastating Problem
If you were asked to define the worst problem facing mankind today, there would be about as many answers as you have people who are asked. There is disease, and war, poverty and pollution. There are the fears that many have of another terrorist attack like September 11, 2001. And there are economic woes that come from greedy bankers and a government that doesn't know the meaning of a balanced budget. There are even all the natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, floods and tornadoes that wreak havoc on our world. But these are nothing compared to one three letter word that, according to the Bible, has caused all of the problems that mankind has ever faced, and is likely to face in the future. That three letter word is sin.
I. Mankind's Denial of Sin
In 1973, American psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger wrote a book entitled Whatever Became of Sin? In his book he relates how this word has all but disappeared from our modern vocabulary. Mankind has tried to deny it, but the sense of guilt still remains. What he is saying is true. Deny the fact of sin all you want, and it will still destroy you.
There are physical laws to the created universe, put in place by God. One of those is the law of gravity. You can choose to ignore it and do what you want. However, ignoring it won't make gravity go away. If I jump out of an airplane which is thousands of feet in the air without a parachute and say: "I don't believe in gravity" what do you think will happen? I will be just as dead as if I believed in it and fell out of the plane, or jumped, trying to commit suicide.
Well, the same is true of the moral laws which are put in place by that same God, who is the one and only Lord of the universe. He is a holy God and has moral absolutes which need to be followed. The consequences of not obeying the rules are more devastating than disobeying the physical laws. They lead to death and an eternal separation from the One who alone can set the standards.
II. Biblical Words and Statements Regarding Sin
The Bible has several words for sin, but the word most frequently used in the Hebrew Old Testament is chata. The Greek word is hamartano. Both of these words mean to miss the mark, to stumble, to fall, and to err.
Along with these two major terms, there are also, others. The various words help fill out the definition of sin. It is transgression, a breaking over the bounds of God's law. Sin is iniquity, or a deviation from what is right. It is a trespass. By that is meant the intrusion of self-will into the realm of God's authority. Also, it is unbelief. This is an insult to divine veracity. It is lawlessness, which is spiritual anarchy. Finally, it is a coming short of the mark, or a failure to measure up to the divine standard.
Scripture also has some statements which might help us to understand the concept of sin a little better. They are as follows:
I John 3:4 - "Whoever commits sin, transgresses also the law: for sin is a transgression of the law." (It might be more correct to translate this: "Sin is lawlessness").
I John 5:17- "All unrighteousness is sin."
Romans 14:23- " ...whatever is not of faith is sin."
James 4:17- "Therefore to him who knows to do good, and doesn't do it, to him it is sin."
From these words and statements of Scripture theologians have come up with their own definitions for this most devastating of words.
III. Theological Definitions of Sin
One theologian, A.H. Strong, has said: "Sin is a lack of conformity to the moral law of God, either in act, disposition or state." Charles Hodge has defined it as: "A transgression of , or want of conformity to the divine law." And James Buswell has stated: "Sin may be defined ultimately as anything in the creature which does not express, or which is contrary to, the holy character of the Creator.
There are many more theologians who have given their definitions, but all of them have a common theme. It is the theme that we have already expressed in this article, but it needs to be repeated. There is a Holy God who is the Sovereign of the universe. He has defined the way that universe ought to run. Therefore there are moral absolutes. And going against what God has defined as good and proper is sin, whether in thought or deed.
There are many questions we have to answer yet in order to see what the Bible has to say about sin, but we will save them for later. What we need to learn from what we've seen so far is that sin is not just some old concept from the dark ages, but is the major problem that needs to be faced by all mankind. If we don't deal with the sin problem, it will not only affect the rest of our lives, but will lead to an eternal existence in Hell, apart from God's presence. We take sin far too lightly today. God didn't! He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world. But we need to accept that free gift, in order to receive it. If you haven't done so, accept Christ as your Lord and Savior today. If you have, then thank God that you no longer are enslaved to sin, but have eternal life through Christ.
It is my hope that all who read this will develop a revulsion for sin in this world and in their own lives as well. And may that hatred drive us closer to the One who alone is able to deal with that sin and give to us a new nature free from its grip on us.