THE SINFULNESS OF SIN
To understand man’s personal participation in Adam’s rebellion, we must have a correct understanding of the nature or character of sin. Several prominent attributes and manifestations of sin are revealed in the Scriptures.
Sin is much more than an error in moral judgment, even much more than disobedience to some impersonal law. Sin is a crime against the person of God. We live in a world and worship in churches that, for the most part, no longer understand the heinous nature of sin, and so we must endeavor to rediscover what has been lost. Our understanding of God and of the greatness of our salvation in Christ depends upon it.
SIN IS… ALWAYS AGAINST GOD
Sin is always first and foremost against God and an affront to His person. To disobey a divine command is to clench the fist and shake it in the face the One who gives life to and rules over all men. Today, if people speak of sin at all, they speak of sin against man, or sin against society, or even sin against nature, but rarely do we hear of sin against God. A person is thought to be good because they have good relations with their fellowman, even though they live in total disregard for God and His will. People often ask how God can judge an atheist who is a good man, but they ask this because they are blind to the fact that a man cannot be good if he denies his Creator and renders nothing to the One who gives him all good things.
The Scriptures record that King David lied to his people, committed adultery, and even orchestrated the murder of an innocent man (II Samuel 11-12). And yet when confronted with his sins, he cried out to God, “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4). David knew that all sin is first and foremost sin against God. Until one understands this truth, one can never understand the heinous nature of sin.
SIN IS… FAILURE TO LOVE GOD
The greatest of all sins is the violation of the greatest of all commands: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:28-30). Christ declared, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Therefore, all disobedience is a demonstration of our lack of love toward God. For this reason, when the apostle Paul sought to prove the depravity of mankind in the first three chapters of the book of Romans, he referred to Adam’s race as “haters of God” (Romans 1:30). No greater indictment could be made against fallen man. Not loving God is at the very heart of all rebellion. It should also be noted that a man might be very religious and conscientious of divine law and duty and yet be a terrible sinner before God, if his obedience is prompted by anything other than love for God.
SIN IS… FAILURE TO GLORIFY GOD
The Scriptures declare that man was created for the glory of God and that all that man does, even the most menial tasks of eating and drinking, should be done for God’s glory (I Corinthians 10:31). For man to glorify God is for him to esteem the supremacy and worth of God above all things, to take joy in God and be satisfied in Him above all things, and to live before God with the reverence, gratitude, and worship that is due Him.
Sin is the very opposite of glorifying God. When man sins he becomes the opposite of what he was created to be. A sinful man is a creature who has dislocated himself and perverted the very reason for his existence. He has replaced God with self and God’s will with self-will. The apostle Paul writes that “though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God” (Romans 1:21) and that “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 1:25). Sin’s roots go much deeper than what is seen on the surface: it is man’s refusal to acknowledge God’s right as God. It is man’s determination to set himself above his Creator, usurp His throne, and steal His glory. Sin is fundamentally a refusal to glorify God as God, and it manifests itself anytime that man seeks his own glory above God’s.
SIN IS… GODLESS AND UNGODLY
The word godlessness denotes a refusal to acknowledge God as God, a desire to live a ‘godless’ existence, free from His sovereignty and law. The word ungodliness denotes a refusal to be conformed to the character and will of God, a desire for moral depravity rather than likeness to God. It has been said that the greatest compliment that may be paid to another person is to desire to be with them and be like them. Sin reveals an inward desire to live without God and to be unlike God. This is a great affront to Him!
SIN IS… REBELLION AND INSUBORDINATION
In I Samuel 15:23, the Scriptures declare: “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.” The word rebellion is translated from the Hebrew word meri, which means contentious, rebellious, or disobedient toward. The word insubordination is translated from the Hebrew word patsar, which literally means to press or to push. It denotes one that is pushy, insolent, arrogant, and presumptuous. There are no small sins, because all sin is rebellion and insubordination. According to I Samuel 15:23, to practice any form of rebellion is as evil as partaking in a pagan or demonic ritual, and to practice any form of insubordination is as evil as partaking in gross iniquity or rendering worship to a false god.
SIN IS… LAWLESSNESS
In I John 3:4, the Scriptures declare, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” The word lawlessness is translated from the Greek word anomia [a, without, no + nomos, law]. To practice lawlessness is to live without law or as though God had never revealed His will to mankind. A person may practice lawlessness by openly defying the rule and law of God, or by simply being unconcerned and willingly ignorant. In either case, the person is showing contempt for God and His law. The abominable nature of practicing lawlessness is seen in the fact that the Antichrist is referred to as the “man of lawlessness” (II Thessalonians 2:3).
SIN IS… TREACHERY
The word treachery denotes a deceitful and unfaithful act against another. Throughout the Scriptures, treachery is seen as an aspect belonging to all sin (Ezekiel 18:24), whether it be in rebellion (Isaiah 48:8), in forsaking the true God for idols (I Chronicles 5:25), or in any form of apostasy or turning away from God (Psalm 78:57). All sin is a betrayal of the One who created us and lovingly sustains our lives.
SIN IS… AN ABOMINATION
If only one thing could be said about sin, it should be said that above all things sin is an abomination to God. An abomination before the Lord is a foul, disgusting thing. It is detestable and loathsome to God and an object of His hatred (Proverbs 6:16). In the Scriptures, all sin is an abomination and to sin is to act abominably (Ezekiel 16:52). Proverbs 28:9 declares that “He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.” Similarly, Proverbs 15:8-9 declares that “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord” and that “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.” All idolatry (Deuteronomy 7:25) and any unjust act (Deuteronomy 25:16) is an abomination before the Lord, as well as any person who is devious (Proverbs 3:32; 15:26), a liar (Proverbs 12:22), perverse in heart (Proverbs 11:20), or proud in heart (Proverbs 16:5). In Revelation 21:8, 27, the Scriptures conclude with the warning that the abominable and those who practice abominations will suffer eternal punishment.
SIN IS… MISSING THE MARK
The most common Hebrew word for sin is chata, which means miss the mark, miss the way, or go wrong. In Judges 20:16, we read that the men of Benjamin could “sling a stone at a hair and not miss [chata],” and in Proverbs 19:2 we read, “He who hurries his footsteps errs” or “misses the way [chata].” In the New Testament, the most common Greek word for sin is hamartano, which may also be translated miss the mark, err, be mistaken, or wander from the path. According to the Scriptures, the mark or goal toward which man is to aim is the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Any thought, word, or deed that does not have the glory of God as its chief end is sin. It is important to note that sin [chata or hamartano] is never seen as an innocent mistake or honest error, rather it is always a willful act of disobedience resulting from man’s moral corruption and rebellion against God.
SIN IS… TRESPASSING THE BOUNDARY
The word transgress is translated from the Hebrew word abar which means cross, pass over, pass through, or bypass. To transgress God’s command is to go beyond what is permitted by God’s commands. It is to ignore the restrictions imposed upon us by God’s law and to run beyond its fence. In the New Testament, the word transgress is translated from the Greek word parabaino, which means go by the side of, go past, pass over, or step over. In Matthew 15:2-3 is found an excellent example of parabaino: The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples break [parabaino] the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And Jesus answered them, “Why do you yourselves transgress [parabaino] the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?”
(SOURCE: THE TRUTH ABOUT MAN – PAUL WASHER)
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