Meanderings of a Minister


The Misunderstanding of Sin
January 18, 2015, 1:42 pm
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Praying Hands

For many Christians, sin takes on any number of different meanings.  The Bible uses various terms to define it.  Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary helps us see the different nuances of this topic through its entry on sin:

Sin. †In essence, the failure or refusal of human beings to live the life intended for them by God their creator. The biblical terminology for sin as an act (and its commission) as well as a human condition is extensive. Among the Old Testament words are Heb. ḥāṭā˒ (verb) “miss the mark, fail” and related words, ˓āḇar “pass beyond, transgress” and related words, ˓āwōn “iniquity, perversion,” pāša˓ “revolt, transgress” and related words, šāgag̱ and šāg̱â “err, go astray,” tā˓â “err, wander,” ra˓ “evil,” and rāšā˓ “wicked, impious.” New Testament terminology includes Gk. hamartía (noun) and related words, ponērós “evil,” adikía “injustice, unrighteousness” and related words, parábasis “transgress” and related words, and anomía “lawlessness.”[1]

Missing the mark, failing, passing beyond a boundary, transgress, iniquity, perversion, revolt against authority, err, go astray, wander, to be evil, to be wicked, to be impious, unjust, unrighteous…so many definitions of a simple word.  Add to that the definition in James that the good a man know he ought to do and do it not is sin.  Why would God go to such lengths to help us understand a word that so many in our world work to excuse away?  Perhaps because He knew they would…and so would we.

So, if sin is such a big deal, and there are so many ways to define it, what do we do about it?  Well, Psalm 66:18 says if I regard sin in my heart that God will not hear my prayers and Isaiah 59:2 says that our sin causes God to turn His back on our prayers.  So what CAN we do?  Nothing.  That’s right.  Nothing.  But Jesus can and did.  He died to atone for our sins.  He took our punishment and provided our payment.  So what does that mean for those of us who still struggle with sin?

1 John 1 deals with the answer to this question.

1 John 1:5-7 says that true believers will want to walk in the Light (without sin as much as possible) and that this desire is indicative of our relationship with Christ.

1 John 1:8 says if we think we are not dealing with sin right now, we deceive ourselves.  We are constantly being tempted and falling short of the glory of God.

1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, God will forgive and restore.

1 John 1:10 says if think we have never sinned, we make God a liar and His truth is not in us.

1 John 1:9 says if we confess our past sins, God will forgive and restore.

1 John 2:1-2 says if we sin in the future, given the caveat of 1 John 1:5-7, we have an advocate with the Father.  This is

Jesus, Who has already died and paid the price for our sins.

1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, in the future, God will forgive and restore.

Perhaps instead of trying to deny our sin, redefine our sin to make it less sinful, or getting angry with those who point out our sin, maybe we ought to simply confess our sin and receive forgiveness and restoration from God and health to our bones.  Perhaps we ought to thank God for the forgiveness and forbearance He has shown us in giving us salvation, revealing Himself through His Word, and continually convicting and drawing us to Him in the midst of our struggle with sin.

Sin, when understood properly, can be the very thing that drives us back to the arms of God and not into the bushes to hide from Him.

[1] Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 951.

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