Definition of sin: An act that is regarded by theologians as a transgression of God’s will. Estrangement from god.
In my last blog I attempted to define the nature of man and the nature of son. So far as the bible is concerned the nature of man and the nature of sin are intrinsically intertwined. So far as a biblical definition of sin is concerned the best example is given here 1Jn 3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. We call this transgression of divine law.
In my last blog most of what I wrote points to the results of sin. Our behavior, our attitude and not lest of these is our propensity to go against that which is lawful and right.
Depending on ones world view whether it is religious or not our view of what sin is can differ greatly. Some may think unfaithfulness is morally wrong but stealing the office supplies from work isn’t. Others may think that stealing the office supplies from work is wrong but lying about or fraudulently claiming work hours when they didn’t work those hours is okay. Another one could be the old saying that white lies are okay because they don’t harm anyone. In my mind this really means so long as no one finds out you told a lie it may not harm others but if you are caught out in a lie it may harm someone.
The point is that what each person thinks is sin or an infraction of the rules may be completely different from the next person. It isn’t my objective here to differentiate between what we might call a minor sin as opposed to a major sin, my point here is to say that regardless of the sin it is a transgression of the rules. The bible says this, Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
I have said it a few times already that each persons opinion may differ on this subject. So this being the case whose opinion matters? The environmentalist may think its a sin to over graze the land or destroy native habitats belonging to an endangered species. Vegan’s believe it is wrong to eat other living animals variously because of the way they may be farmed and slaughtered, or simply because they have life and we have not right to take it away from them. But then killing an unborn child is the choice of a mother, it’s her body after all. I am not saying this is the view of environmentalists and Vegan’s What I am trying to demonstrate is the inconsistency in our world view. If we hold to the sanctity of life on one level but deny life a chance on another level, we then play god to determine what life is and when it begins in the first place.
Okay enough examples; I could go on and demonstrate how we can can hold conflicting positions within our own paradigms. What I am getting at is who decides what is right or wrong? Moralist and ethicist philosophers argue this subject all the time. Very often the morals and ethics that we argue for and against are situational or hypothetical. The arguments are meant to be objective not emotional, however often times the arguments are emotionally based and subjective or even anecdotal. A few of the subjects I raised above are good examples where the emotions are often engaged rather than the intellect. The facts are often blurred by other issues not directly relevant to the subject matter itself while in some religious debates on right and wrong, (sin) the facts and intellect are dismissed altogether and an appeal to divine revelation is put in its place. I will deal with the issue of divine revelation another time.
So this leads to the question of who is the arbiter of truth? Who gets to decide or determine what sin is? Do we determine for ourselves what right and wrong is? Did we in some prehistoric past construct the idea of right and wrong while roasting mammoth over the campfire. Then so we didn’t have to take credit for spoiling everyone’s fun we invented God to take the blame for it all? Even from an evolutionary and anthropological perspective that scenario stretches the imagination. Yet that’s exactly how our education system theorizes or rather imagines we came to define sin or right and wrong. Then call God a myth and sin negative!
Atheists often argue that religion is evil because it dominates and controls individuals, they caricature history and all the mistakes people made in the name of God as a defense that there is no God. If there is no God then it corresponds that their is no such thing as evil. Evil implies a negative influence or persona called the devil. All the bad stuff that happened in the bible can’t be God’s fault because if God didn’t tell us to do it (He doesn’t exist) then even if we try to argue that religion is bad; then it is only bad because it was invented by humanity! What does that say about humanity? But if there is no right and wrong then our actions are only relative to how we think it effects ourselves or others.
Oddly enough we have a legal system in every society that limits what we may or may not do but we don’t call that a bad thing. We call law a good thing because it protects our rights and freedoms. But if it prevents us from carrying out an action prescribed by the law as wrong then it is limiting our freedom and imposing on our right to act freely; how is that fair? Once more we end up back at the question of who is the arbiter who decides all this stuff? Are we really prepared to go so far as to say we created all this without any help from a divine influence. If we created God as a means of limiting ourselves and also constructing many of the legal precedents we have based on moral law, we can give ourselves a hearty pat on the back and live in hope that the author of this majestic system can be discovered.
If we can believe we were actually smart enough to do all this then why does history show that we have so royally screwed it up? I am not trying to be a pessimist, history speaks for itself the bible supports what history shows us about ourselves as human beings. When a judicial system is set up, people go about circumventing it. In the case of Israel where the system was theocratic all it did was show that even under a system developed around the idea of God, failed miserably. THEY TRANSGRESSED! Israel couldn’t obey or wouldn’t obey so then they demanded God to give them a king, a monarchy. Same end result, they failed miserably!
So if we didn’t construct all this stuff about good and evil, right and wrong and sin, then someone else must have communicated it to us. If we have transgressed a set of laws constructed by someone else who is that someone? The bible claims God made the laws and defined sin. Adam knew in the garden of Eden what he shouldn’t do, don’t eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There was one simple law to follow, Adam broke that law. So now if God exists and He set the parameters by which we can live, then my conclusion is that God is the arbiter.
Returning to my opening definition, sin is anything we do that transgresses God’s law. Anyone who transgresses God’s law practices sin. Sin can be defined as doing that which we ought not do. Anything we do that goes against God’s law is sin. Even if we have only ever done one thing wrong no matter how minor we are under sins penalty we are separated from God. Even if we have never committed sin we are still under the curse of sin through Adam because he is our original ancestor. Christ however was born of a woman by the Holy Spirit no man was involved.
Because of Christ we are not left floundering without hope, where 1 John 4:3 tells us that all who practice lawlessness practice sin, we aren’t left to our own devices. God in His great mercy made a way out for us through his Son. John goes on to say this, 1Jn 3:5 You know that He (Christ) appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him (Christ) there is no sin.
So we are not left without hope, in fact we are given hope that there is a solution to our transgressions whatever they may be. In closing I leave you with the following thoughts. I hope they are helpful to you.
Rom_5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Rom_5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
1Co_15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,