The doctrine of sin

Study of the doctrine of sin like any other Christian doctrine would be incomplete if not looked at from a biblical perspective.

Modern Philosophy denies the existence of sin, but any such denial is part of a false philosophy. Sin is a fact, not a fantasy, neither is it a figment of the imagination.

The Explanation of Sin

What is sin? In attempting to answer this question, the numerous definitions might leave us confused.

Dr. Charles Ryrie has listed Hebrew and Greek words that describe sin. He says that in Hebrew there are at least eight basic words:

“ra, bad (Genesis 38:7); rasha, wickedness (Exodus 2:13); asham, guilt (Hosea 4:15); chata, sin (Exodus 20:20); avon, iniquity (I Samuel 3:13); shagag, err (Isaiah 28:7); taah, wander away (Ezekiel 48:11); pasha, rebel (I Kings 8:50).”

Based on these words, we can draw the following conclusions.

  • Sin was fundamentally seen as disobedience to God.
  • The emphasis of sin was on the positive commision of wrong and not the omission of good, although both can be considered to be disobedience.
  • It may take many forms, and the Israelites was aware of the particular form which his sin did take.

12 words are used in the New Testament to describe sin. They are:

Kakos, bad (Romans 13:3); poneros, evil (Matthew 5:45); asebes, godless (Romans 1:18); enochos, guilt (Matthew 5:21); hamartia, sin (I Corinthians 6:18); adikia, unrighteousness (I Corinthians 6:9); anomos, lawlessness (I Timothy 1:9); parabates, transgression (Romans 5:14); agnoein, to be ignorant (Romans 1:13); planan, to go astray (I Corinthians 6:9); paraptomai, to fall away (Galatians 6:1); and hupocrites, hypocrite (I Timothy

  • From the uses of these words, several conclusions may also be drawn.
  • There is always a clear standard against which sin is committed.
  • All sin is ultimately a positive rebellion against God and a transgression of His standards.
  • Evil assumes a variety of forms.
  • Man’s responsibility is definite and clearly understood.

The most frequently used word is hamartia, missing the mark. It most comprehensively explains sin. 

Paul used the verb hamartano when he wrote;

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). 

God has a high and holy standard of what is right, and so long as man follows the Divine standard, he will see himself as he truly exists in God’s eyes. 

Let no man ever think that he comes anywhere near the standard set by God. We always, no matter how hard we try, fall short of the absolute perfection God demands.

The Entrance of Sin

Concerning the entrance of sin in the human race, we are confined to God’s revelation to us in His Word. The Scripture is clear in its declaration that,

“by one man sin entered into the world…” (Romans 5:12).

The problem as to the earthly origin of sin is solved in Romans 5. It came through the sin of “one man,” Adam, and thereby “passed” to “all men.”

Genesis 3, the most tragic chapter in the Bible, contains the account of how sin came into the world.

The account. The chief agent in the Fall of man was an evil spirit of unusual power and cleverness, Satan himself (Revelation 12:9; 20:2).

Satan did not appear to Eve as one writhing, slithering, hideous creature, but as a creature of grace and beauty with the power to appear as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14).

The Extent of Sin

The Bible teaches that sin entered the human race with Adam’s transgression.

“Wherefore, as by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Both the Old and New Testaments teach that Adam’s fall entailed disastrous consequences for himself and his descendants.

David said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). David is not so much as suggesting that the sexual relation between his parents that led to his conception was a sinful act.

He is saying the same thing Paul says in Romans 5:12. The natural depravity of the parents is transmitted to their offspring. The connection is natural and real.

“The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies” (Psalm 58:3).

The Effects of Sin

The first consequence of sin is guilt

Real guilt, that feeling of having done wrong because I know I did wrong. Sometimes a person is plagued with pseudo guilt, a guilt feeling arising from emotional causes. 

Genuine guilt toward God comes from the enlightenment we receive from the Bible. It appears as the result of a breakdown in man’s obedience to God and his utter dependence upon God. 

It is a truly genuine guilt when the sinner knows in his innermost heart that he has disobeyed God and that all such disobedience is sin. 

If a person is gripped with guilt feelings that are a result of sin and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, there is one solution, and only one:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool Isaiah 1:18).

Another consequence of sin is the punishment imposed upon the sinner by God.

Since sin is a capital crime against God, man is guilty of death. The Scriptures repeatedly tell us that sin and death are inseparably linked together. Before the Fall, God had warned Adam and Eve,

“In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” Genesis 2:17

According to the Bible, there are two kinds of death.

First, there is the separation of the soul from the body, which comes to all men except those living on the earth when Christ comes to take His own to Heaven (I Thessalonians 4:16, 17).

There is also “The second death” (Revelation 20:6, 14; 21:8). This is the final and eternal separation of the whole man from God.

Eternal death is not a cessation of man’s existence but his eternal punishment in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:46, Revelation 21:8).

There can be no doubt about what Scripture means by these awful consequences of sin. This is a solemn truth that should serve as a warning to every man.

The Expiation for Sin

Expiation is the act of making satisfaction or atonement for a crime or fault. 

God, because of His nature, not only demands that sin be punished, but He also has provided for the sinner’s restoration to fellowship with Himself.

God could not be satisfied until sin had been fully atoned for. The Bible teaches that by the sufferings and death of Christ, the acceptable Substitute was provided for the sin of man, thereby making His sufferings and death to be vicarious.

There could be no expiation for sin apart from the sacrifice of blood, the reason being that God so declared it.

Without shedding of blood is no remission (Hebrews 9:22).

It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul (Leviticus 17:11).

Christ was the sinner’s bleeding sacrifice.
The chief purpose of the Incarnation of Christ was to offer Himself a ransom for sinners.

Our Lord repeatedly said that He must suffer, be killed, and be raised from death on the third day (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; John 12:32-34).

Even in Heaven Christ’s expiation, our transgressions are the grand theme, for there the redeemed will sing a new song,

… Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation (Revelation 5:9).

See Worthy is the lamb by Handel

His death was neither an accident nor a mere incident, but it was a divinely planned death in the sinner’s stead.

Nothing less than the atonement of Christ could rescue the sinner from the guilt and penalty of his sins and at the same time satisfy the infinitely holy and just God.

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