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About Doctrines

Sin



If you were to review Paul's epistle to the Romans, you would discover the first 17 verses are a prologue to the letter. Then starting at 1:18, Paul discusess for the balance of chapter 1, all of chapter 2 and the first 20 verses of chapter 3, the sinfulness of man. Oddly enough, even though Paul has been describing man's sinful nature since 1:18, Rom 3:9 is the first use of the word "sin" in the epistle. Paul did use sinner in 3:7, the first use of that word in the letter. This shows the strength, depth, and breadth of sin. Paul can write over fifty verses on the depravity and sinfulness of man without using either the word sin or sinner. What a frightening thing this is!

Sin is legal guilt. As we look at the Old Testament quotations that follow, we will see yet another series of descriptions that display the true guilt of mankind before God, all without using the word sin. In Latin, the word "fane" means a church or temple. "Pro" in Latin means "in front of." When we call something "profane," it literally means to be "out in front of the church." The picture of something profane is a picture of something separate and apart from the church, or if you will, separate and apart from God.

The same idea exists in the Old Testament where some things are considered "clean" while others are call "unclean." The word for "unclean" can mean defiled, infamous, polluted, or pollution. As used in context, the idea is that something is impure or out of place religiously, ethically, or ritually. In other words, to be unclean, something was out in front of the "Temple" (church).

Theses pictures help us to understand God's position on sin. God is the church. Sin is outside of the church, so it is not a part of God. Since sin is not a part of God, God hates sin. So, God does everything He can within the rules of free will that He has established to convince us not to sin. Paul's letter has been demonstrating the problems of sin. As we move on in this chapter, Paul will tie it all together – the man without the Bible, the moral man, and the man with the Bible are all in the same boat. They are all sinners.

Still, what about sin. Sin is so important a concept to understand that it is described by a variety of different words in both Hebrew and Greek. Twelve different words from these two languages are translated as "sin."

The most familiar word for sin means to "miss the mark." The idea is one of having a target to shoot at and missing. Or, of missing the time of an appointment, an occurrence we have all suffered from. If the appointment time is the "mark," even being a couple of minutes late is missing the mark. God has given mankind a target – His holiness – and man has missed living up to that standard. Man falls short of God's righteousness (Rom 2:23).

Another word translated as sin means to "overstep a boundary." This is the idea of rebellion. It is transgressing God's standards and boundaries. This is being absent without leave. Man has departed from God's path or camp to walk his own way. (Psalm 51:1; Rom 2:23).

A third word for sin means to be "falling instead of standing." Man has not maintained a righteous position in front of God. Man has fallen from God instead of remaining standing in God's presence. This might be viewed as "iniquity," an act inherently wrong whether it has been forbidden or not (Rom 1:21-23). A related concept is "trespass," the intentional intrusion of self-will into the arena of God's authority (Eph 2:1).

Still, another word as sin means to be "ignorant instead of knowing." This is the idea of following the lies of Satan rather than the truth of God. This could be viewed as the sin of Eve. It might be viewed as "error," a departure from what is right (Rom 1:18; 1 John 3:4). This might also be viewed as "lawlessness" (1 Tim 1:9) or "unbelief" (John 16:9).

Yet another word for sin means to "diminish that which should be rendered in full." It is providing a short measure of product, or weighting the scales in your favor. Still other words translated as sin mean to disobey a voice, disregard a command, or to be willfully careless. Men are all of these things, and more. There was a play many years ago where a baseball player sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for winning the pennant. I understand the story concept is based upon an old play/opera. In any event, the point to make is that we cannot sell our souls to the Devil. The transaction does not work this way. But, we may be exceedingly careless with our souls. This is the picture Paul has painted in his opening chapters. We do not sell our soul to the Devil. We loose our place with God and end up in the same place as Satan. What a terrible fate.

Sin then is an act, a violation of the revealed Will of God. Sin is also a state, the state of unrighteousness. And, sin is a nature, hatred or enmity against God. Please note that sin is not a state where good is simply missing. Sin is an active state of evilness and self-will actively opposed to God. This is the truth that Satan forever attempts to cover over and, thus, deceive mankind.

 

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