SIN

According to a universal definition, ‘sin’ can be a noun or a verb: an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law; or, the commission of an offense. Synonyms are many, including: an immoral act, wrong, wrongdoing, act of evil/wickedness, transgression, crime, offense, misdeed, misdemeanor, scandal, disgrace, outrage. These are, of course, secular conceptions of a matter much more fully examined in the pages of Holy Scripture.

While many of the same ideas about sin are indeed expressed, the main point Scripture declares about sin is that it is essentially what separates us from God. The Book of Genesis introduces the concept of sin in relating the story of Eden, the subsequent fall of mankind, and God’s promised remedy.

Curiously, while Eden is where the Biblical narrative provides the origin of sin, the actual word ‘sin’ is not mentioned until AFTER Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden. The first passage that employs the term is in God’s discussion with Cain about his anger towards his brother, Abel.

“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” – Gen. 4:7.

Obviously, the issue of sin is designated there as a consequence of choice. That Cain should rule over it, indicates that it was a matter of his free will whether to sin or not. Therefore. any idea that this was because of the curse of ‘Original Sin’ must be prayerfully scrutinized more carefully.

There are many similar assumptions  that few people adequately research before accepting as truth. As with most things, one’s perspective greatly influences their ultimate appreciation of fact.

The purpose of this Article is to distinguish between two primary perspectives related to sin. This is NOT to infer that merely two perspectives exist, only that at least these two should be considered. One view is mankind’s involvement in, responsibility for, and possible rehabilitation from, sin. The other is God’s revelation and purpose of, and antidote for, sin.

Two other distinctions must also be simultaneously considered. Scripture regards sin in an all-inclusive, universal application and additionally, as an individual, personal liability. The ubiquitous sense relates to the ‘Original Sin’ imposed upon mankind in Eden and in which ALL humanity is born. I label this as SIN. This is THE NOUN by which everything that opposes God is called. The other designated in lower-case font, ‘sin’ or ‘sins’.

Equally offensive to God, yet NOT the same perpetual curse imposed pre-birth, are the many wrong actions performed by mankind – intentionally or ignorantly. These are commonly referred to as being either ‘sins of commission’ or ‘sins of omission’. More than merely wrongdoing, failing to do rightly is just as evil.

The existence of the universal application of sin is clearly proclaimed in Scripture.

““There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” – Ro.3:11,12.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Ro. 3:23.

Interestingly, there is little doubt or debate among believers about the universal curse of sin. Excluding atheists, the majority of people attribute the existence of evil to sin. The godly remedy for sin is where they disagree. The entire purpose of God becoming man and offering Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice is revealed in Scripture as THE solution to this pervasive blight.

Confusion and speculation also abounds regarding the PRESENT sin that continues to plague believers. The remainder of this Article shall focus on that matter.

“If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” – 1Jn. 1:7-10.

Sadly, many false doctrines exist that portray the preceding scripture passage as a seeming contradiction. Of course, the spiritually mature know that scripture NEVER contradicts itself. Where ever it appears so, a deeper research and fuller understanding is imperative.

Still, the question is continually debated, “How do believers explain the sin that continues to oppress them, after being forgiven and saved”? Again, spiritual maturity provides the necessary enlightenment, possible ONLY through the guidance and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

“Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him” 1Jn. 3:6.

A crucial discernment is required here. Who to believe – Scripture, or some private interpretation of it? How can we know the difference? What is it to ‘abide’ in HIM? The WORD of God definitely says, “Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him”.

So, those who have ‘seen’ Him (in Christ) and have come to ‘know’ Him (as revealed in Christ) do NOT sin. Except, many have ‘seen’ Him and ‘know’ Him, by virtue of a personal encounter that has been confirmed by the perpetual residency of the Holy Spirit, yet they continue to sin. How do we reconcile this personal experience with Scripture?

Paul explained a similar enigma in his personal experience. He admonished believers to understand the relentless battle that our flesh wages against our spirit – the ‘inner man’.

“We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Ro. 7: 14-25.

Remember, this was Paul’s expressed empathy for born again Christians, as a born again Christian, to other born again Christians. His conclusion? “Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” He understood that a newness of life had set up permanent residency in him which led him to the conviction – “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me”.

Just as SIN separates us from God, becoming truly born again (born of the Spirit) separates us from sin. The term ‘separates’ is better realized as a ‘division’ or ‘partition’; ‘detached’, ‘disjoined’. The ‘new creation’ that the infilling Spirit of God produces involves an addition to the natural man. Formerly mere physical beings with no spiritual life now become ‘alive’ unto God and ‘dead’ unto sin by being born again.

“The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” – 1 Cor. 2:14.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” – 2Cor. 5:17.

“Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” – 1Pt. 1:23.

“Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Ro. 6:11.

Without such a personal experience, sin forever rules the heart. But a new desire to please God, to worship Him, and to express an eternal gratitude for His grace (unmerited favor) now reigns in sin’s place for those truly born again. Of course, this is a simplistic reasoning for a supernatural miracle of redemption and transformation from death to life. It cannot be rightly comprehended by merely the rational mind.

But such newness of life does NOT immediately end the former way of life. In most, this is a life-long process, learning more about the things of God and how to surrender to His Spirit rather than the old sin-nature our selfish flesh continues to insist upon. Some, very few, do experience an instant change that solidifies the born again experience as an immediate eternal assurance.  Most however, receive such confirmation over time, as their personal education in Scripture and subsequent edification in the Spirit is experienced. Further hindering such spiritual growth, temptation comes with every thought. But a way of overcoming every temptation also accompanies those thoughts.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond  your ability, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” – 1Cor. 10:13.

Here again, Paul is ministering as a born again believer to other born again believers. Clearly temptation to sin remains an ever present danger to believers, but by the same grace by which we’ve been saved, a ‘way of escape’ allows us to endure.

Many have confused the ‘incorruptible seed’ by which spiritual birth is conceived to mean that born again believers are beyond corruption. This is a false assumption. It is the Spirit of God that is the incorruptible seed. He ALONE is righteous. Although He appropriates His righteousness to born again believers, it remains HIS righteousness.

Self-righteousness is one of the hypocrisies of sin. Those who attempt to achieve righteousness through their own efforts, regardless of motivation or resulting good, have circumvented Christ’s whole redemptive purpose. While they may claim naivety, Jesus has warned that is no excuse. He explained that the ‘doing’ of good works in hopes of attaining righteousness was NOT the way to come to know Him. Conversely, knowing Him would produce His covering of righteousness and good works would be manifest in and through such believers.

 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  – Mt. 7:16-23.

In conclusion, this was not intended to present an exhaustive study on the topic of sin. It has been presented as a concise ‘over-view’ of the multitude of passages within Scripture pertaining to the matter as it relates to the true believer. An applied systematic theological research into ‘Soteriology’ (doctrine of salvation) is strongly recommended for further consideration. Those still doubtful should perhaps consider that as an indication that sin has not yet been remedied in their life, and pray to God for deliverance.

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7 thoughts on “SIN

  1. I would also tend to think that we go through a process of at least two additional births after becoming a Christian. The first is an ON-GOING growth process that involves spirit. I think the second is the rebirth upon resurrection. In reference to the first: I don’t believe it is only a once over, but more or less gradual—one that involves constant cleansing, rejuvenation and regeneration. All I am saying here is that upon confession, it is not over with—in fact, I’d argue that the process is only a beginning. I also believe it is able to be performed because of Jesus standing in gap which gives us access to His spirit.

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    • Thank you for your input. I appreciate it and understand your points. I believe them to be valid representations of SOME – but NOT ALL – conversion experiences. A few (definitely the greater minority) receive Christ and an immediate ‘baptism’ in the Holy Spirit. Most however, do NOT comprehend this as a simultaneous event – although in God’s Omniscience – it is. Evidence of new converts not yet educated in sound doctrine is reported in Scripture that supports your idea: “I don’t believe it is only a once over, but more or less gradual—one that involves constant cleansing, rejuvenation and regeneration”.

      ““Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” – Ac. 19:2.

      Elsewhere, the indwelling is Not manifest in a visible way, yet is apparent, never-the-less.

      “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Ac. 2:38.
      “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” – Ro. 8:9.

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  2. Hi MJ. I would have to disagree with you on your interpretation of Romans 7. Paul here is describing his human nature as it reacts under law. He is addressing those who know the law, and is explaining the purpose and function of the law as being that which holds mankind in sin. It is an explanation of the why and how of mankind’s slavery to sin and the power that it has to hold man as a slave to itself. Later in the chapter he rationalises what the situation is in his being (mind), as a lead in to chapter 8, where he says that now because of Christ “there is no condemnation”. This is a very important issue as it explains both man’s captivity and then his release from the power of sin. I know how difficult this chapter 7 can be to understand and so can not pursue it beyond this comment. You know I hold you in high regard so there is no animosity implied at all. Peace 🙂

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    • Thank you for your reply and opinion. You state, “I would have to disagree with you on your interpretation of Romans 7.” While it is certainly your right to disagree, I’m not clear on the specific point upon which you perceive a disagreement with my interpretation. I’ve read your comment twice through hoping to pin-point a misinterpretation, but I didn’t. Paul was a Jew, the majority of his audience in Rome were Jews and elsewhere in Scripture he refers to himself as ‘blameless as a “Hebrew of Hebrews”.

      For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, BLAMELESS. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” – Phil. 3:3-11.

      To the Jews who grew up under the LAW, they could relate, certainly better than Gentile believers who had no relationship with the LAW. But the unifying factor ALL believers (Jew or Gentile) share is the universal, ongoing ‘war’ of the flesh against the spirit.

      If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” – 1Jn. 1:9,10.

      Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ALWAYS lives to make intercession for them” – Heb. 7:25.

      Although Christ died for our salvation (breaking the curse of SIN), Temptation to sin and wrong choices that result in poor free-will decisions continue to confront believers. None of us are yet PERFECT. Therefore, GRACE abounds and Christ offers constant intercession for us ALWAYS!

      If, in this present life, sin was completely eradicated in a believer, there would be no need for constant intercession. The curse has been removed, we have been redeemed, but the completion of the transformation of our mortality taking on our future immortality, while assured by Christ, is yet to be completed by the redemption of our body.

      I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance – Ro. 8:18-25..

      As long as we remain in the flesh, we will be in conflict with the spirit. We who are truly born again now have two natures: the old flesh, the natural man and the new creation, the inner man. The one that receives the greater attention, the one we choose to ‘feed’ the most, ultimately over-rides the other. This is why we are constantly urged to walk in the spirit, NOT fulfilling the lusts of the flesh [Ro. 8:1].

      If walking in the spirit were automatic, we would not need admonishment. But God has given all men free-will which is NOT voided by our decision to follow Christ and become Spirit-filled. We still make choices to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit – or NOT. When we choose NOT, we sin. When we confess THAT sin, He is faithful to forgive us.

      If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” – 1Jn. 1:9.

      John was addressing Christians, NOT non-believers when he wrote that. He is reminding us of what Paul also explained in Romans 7 about the constant struggle whenever we indulge our flesh. Hopefully we agree on that and what appears as disagreement is merely a matter of semantics rather than misinterpretation.

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