I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.
Introduction: The Reality of Sin
An article in Christianity today had this to say about why people do wrong things. They said:
"In the 1950s a psychologist, Stanton Samenow, and a psychiatrist, Samuel Yochelson, sharing the conventional wisdom that crime is caused by environment, set out to prove their point. They began a 17-year study involving thousands of hours of clinical testing of 250 inmates in the District of Columbia. To their astonishment, they discovered that the cause of crime cannot be traced to environment, poverty, or oppression. Instead, crime is the result of individuals making, as they put it, wrong moral choices. In their 1977 work The Criminal Personality, they concluded that the answer to crime is a “Conversion of the wrong-doer to a more responsible lifestyle.”
In 1987, Harvard professors James Q. Wilson and Richard J. Herrnstein came to similar conclusions in their book Crime and Human Nature. They determined that the cause of crime is a lack of proper moral training among young people during the morally formative years, particularly ages one to six."
The truth is that, if you are a parent, you know that you don't have to teach a baby to do bad things. They will do them automatically if they aren't corrected. Rather, you have to teach them to do that which is moral and right. The Bible calls the problem that all people are born with sin. And we know from Scriptures that this is something that will, not only destroy us in this life, but has consequences for the life to come if it is not taken care of now.
We've been doing a series on the fundamentals of the Christian faith. These are the non-negotiables that must be believed in order for someone to rightly call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. The two that we have covered so far are the deity of Jesus Christ and the biblical idea of the Trinity. That is the teaching that there is one God eternally existing in three Persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Today we talk about the concept of sin. The general public, and even some Christians, don't like to discuss this subject today. But sin is a reality, according to the Bible. Of course, the number of occurrences of word 'sin' change according to different versions of the Bible because of how translators choose to render certain Greek and Hebrew words. However, according to christianbiblereference.org, in the King James Version of the Bible, the English word 'sin' appears 336 times in the Old Testament and 112 times in the New Testament, for a total of 448 occurrences. That is a lot of references to something many people choose to ignore.
And for someone to have a true Christian faith, having a biblical understanding of sin and its consequences is another non-negotiable. It is the whole reason that man is separated from a Holy God and why Jesus had to come to earth to die on our behalf.
Let us begin with a definition of this term and see how the Bible defines this important word.
I. What is Sin?
According to the Holman Bible Dictionary:
One of the central affirmations throughout the Bible is humanity's estrangement from God. The cause for this estrangement is sin, the root cause of all the problems of humanity. The Bible, however, gives no formal definition for sin. It describes sin as an attitude that personifies sin as rebellion against God. Rebellion was at the root of the problem for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1) and has been at the root of humanity's plight ever since.
The Hebrew word most used by the biblical authors for sin is chata. And the Greek word is hamartano. Both of these terms mean 'to miss the mark, to stumble, to fall, to err.'
However, there are other terms used to describe this problem. Scripture says that sin is a 'transgression' or a breaking over the bounds of God's law. The Bible also says that sin is an iniquity or a deviation from that which is right. It is also referred to as 'a trespass', the intrusion of self-will into the realm of divine authority. Sin can also be called 'unbelief, an insult to divine veracity. It can be thought of as lawlessness, or spiritual anarchy. And it can be 'a coming short of the mark', a failure to measure up to the divine standard.
It is interesting that there is an 'I' in the middle of the English word 'sin.' Because I am the one who wants to be in charge when I sin. Sin is putting self in the center. It is taking God off of His rightful throne and replacing Him with your own desires and ambitions.
II. How Did Sin Enter the World?
Next, we have to find out how sin began in this world in the first place. Paul, the apostle tells us in Romans 5:12 that:
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned."
The 'one man' he was talking about, of course, was the first man on earth, Adam. Scripture teaches in Genesis that God created everything that there is (Genesis 1:1) with mankind as his crowning creation. He did it all in six days and in the end, God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:31).
Things were going well. Man had fellowship with God. Then came Genesis 3. Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted the first couple to sin against a holy God. The Lord had given them but one rule. They could eat from every tree of the garden except for one. In Genesis 2:16,17 God says to Adam:
"Of every tree of the garden, you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
But in Genesis 3, Satan comes to Eve and deceives her into eating the forbidden fruit. And she, in turn, convinces her husband to do the same, thus going against the will of God, and sin enters the perfect universe that God had created.
Adam was the one who was blamed for the sin for several reasons. He was the head in the relationship and Genesis 3:6 seems to indicate that he was with Eve when she was being tempted. It states:
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."
Adam had been a direct witness to Eve's deception and sin but stood by passively. He didn't contradict the serpent or intervene in any way to protect his wife. It was his responsibility to do this as the head of the family. He sinned, realizing full well what he was doing. And, on top of that, he added to the sin by eating the fruit himself.
As the head of the human race, Adam's sin was passed down to all of his offspring. We see this in Romans 5:19 which tells us:
“For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
The obedient one, of course was Jesus Christ, the second Adam. We see the contrast between these two men more clearly in I Corinthians 15:22 which tells us:
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
As a result of Adam's sin, all men, women and children have become sinners by their very nature, but also because they choose to sin. It is a universal problem. Paul tells us:
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23).
And the result of this is death. Romans 6:23 refers to death as the wages of sin. It is what we are owed for our rebellion against the God of the universe.
Death in the Bible is a separation. Physical death is a separation of the body from the spirit or soul. Spiritual death is a separation of mankind from a holy God who cannot stand sin. By God's very nature, He is separated from sin and cannot allow it to remain in His presence. He, the righteous judge, must end rebellion against His rule.
Ephesians 2:1 tells us that those without Jesus Christ are dead in their transgressions and sins. They may be physically alive but are spiritually dead and God's wrath is upon them because of their sin (John 3:36).
Those who come to the end of their physical life, not having accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, will enter eternal death, or eternal separation from God in Hell. And their final place of punishment, after God's Great White Throne Judgment, at the end of the world, is in what is known as the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20:11-15 is one of the most horrific passages in the whole Bible. It tells us:
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Whatever you may think that the Lake of Fire is, whether a literal flame or something that is symbolic of a horrible punishment as some do, it is not a destination where anyone would want to be. It is a place of isolation, loneliness and pain. But most of all, it is where people will never again know the presence of the God who created, loved and died to save them.
Sin is indeed a horrible thing. Which makes God's remedy for it such a wonderful act of grace and mercy. Let us now look at Gods' cure for the sin of mankind.
III. God's Answer for Mans' Sin: Jesus Christ
The beautiful thing about God's answer for sin is that He knew that man was totally incapable of doing anything on his own, so if anything could be done, He Himself would have to do it. So, the Triune God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came to earth to live the life that we could not live. He lived a perfectly sinless life. John 1:14 tells us:
" And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
And at the end of that life, He died to pay for the sins that we could not pay. After about 33 years, Jesus took our sins upon Himself by dying on the cross.
Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrated His love for us by the fact that when we were still sinners, that is His enemies, Christ died for us.
And in II Corinthians 5:21, Paul tells us:
"For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
This is sometimes known as the doctrine of imputation. Jesus literally took our sins upon Himself and imputed or gave His righteousness to us.
The Scriptures tell us that there is absolutely nothing that we can do to get salvation from the wrath of God upon our sins except to take the salvation that God freely offers through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Ephesians 2:8,9 we hear the apostle Paul tell us:
"For by grace are you saved, through faith. And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.
He also tells us in another book:
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit..." (Titus 3:5).
The Scriptures make it clear that those who don't accept that free gift of salvation are not saved from Gods' wrath against sin. John 3:36 lets us know that:
"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Those without Christ are still like the rest of humanity. They are 'without hope and without God in the world.' (Ephesians 2:12).
To sum it all up: Man's major problem is sin. God's answer to sin is His Son.
So, if you reject the concept of sin, you reject the Bible and you, in turn, reject what Jesus came to earth to do for us.
Before we conclude, it might be good to take a look at what pastor John MacArthur had to say about the subject of sin. He states this:
"There are some people who take sin lightly—it's kind of a trendy thing today. There are lots of churches and lots of churchgoers who are never really confronted by the wretchedness of their own hearts and the sinfulness of their own sin.
You cannot take sin lightly if you read Isaiah 53, because it was your sin and my sin that put Christ on the cross. How can you treat lightly what he suffered?
If you look at the cross, you understand the sinfulness of sin.
He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised or crushed for our iniquities. The divine chastening, the wrath of God was put on him for our well-being. All we, like sheep, have gone astray, but God has laid on him the iniquity of us all. How can that be a light thing?
All your sins—if you put your trust in Christ—were laid on Jesus Christ. In those hours of darkness on the cross, after which he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he absorbed all the divine wrath, all the sins of all the people who would ever believe through all of human history."
The idea of sin is indeed a central teaching of the Christian faith, and you cannot rightfully call yourself Christian if you don't accept what the Bible teaches about it. I pray that none of us will be accused of seeing sin as something to ignore, or some minor thing. Because God doesn't see it that way. And your eternity depends upon your acceptance of His answer to this eternal problem of mankind. Sin is the disease. Jesus Christ is the cure. Thank God for His love in sending His Son! May we be eternally grateful and praise Him for His indescribable gift!
© 2022 Jeff Shirley