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The Essence of Sin

I’ve written about sin before and mentioned it in several posts, but there are several misconceptions about sin that need to be corrected. This blog will go into sin a little more completely than before. Sin is corporate, it is part of every person’s life because it was imputed into all mankind by Adam and Eve’s transgression. Before Satan tricked Eve into eating from the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, God did not hold them accountable for their sins because they did not know they were doing anything wrong. Adam and Eve gained the capacity to distinguish between good and evil by eating the fruit, and therefore all people after them have this knowledge because it is inherited in our DNA, so to speak (Romans 5:12). We gained the capacity to understand what God forbids us to do, and what He wants us to do. And, being imperfect beings, we often do those things that God doesn’t allow us to do. All people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 5:14). None of us is righteous, only God is righteous (Matthew 26:60). And since we now know better, God holds us accountable for our sins.

It is by Jesus’ work on the cross and by His resurrection that we are saved from the penalty of our transgressions: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all [persons] because all sinned–For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Never the less death reigned from Adam to Moses, even to those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come” (Romans 5:12-14). Death reigned because humans then knew the difference between good and evil, even though God had not yet given Moses the law which defined and clarified how God expects us to act.

Transgressions like Adam’s is pride and its resultant defiance of God. Satan told Eve that if she and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit they would be like God, knowing good and evil. He did not say they would be equal to God, but pride got in the way of the first couple’s rationality and common sense. And that caused their fall and imputed their sinful state into us, their descendants.

Sin, then, is any act or inaction that is contrary to God’s will. God is righteous and perfect, and He cannot tolerate sin in His presence. The word for sin in Greek is hamartia, missing the mark, not quite getting the job done or going in a wrong direction. Therefore, any person who has sinned at all, even like a little lie such as “Tell them I’m not home” is separated from God by that sin. If you are guilty of one sin it’s the same as being guilty of all. So all of us, you, me, everyone, was separated from God the instant we became aware of what we should rightly do and what is wrong to do. We were separated from communion with Him at that point, and there is nothing we can do on our own to get back in our Creator’s good graces.

God gave His law to Moses on two tablets. The law did not provide a way to salvation. On the contrary, it pointed up how we are unable to keep the law. It highlighted our human failings and pointed to our need for a Savior. The law was given for another reason also. It told us how we should act to be safe and to prosper in this world. It told us how to live in harmony with how God designed the universe to function. Sin, then, is also acts and failures to act that are harmful to our well being. Good parents give their children rules to live by in order to keep them safe and healthy. They want the best for their children and God wants the best for us. Sin is our breaking rules that were given for our benefit.

Sin separates us from God. We cannot enter into heaven with Him if we die still guilty of our sins. And, He will not hear us nor help us in this life unless we are free form sin. To be free from sin requires that the death penalty be paid. Jesus, the only Person on earth who lived a sinless life, paid that death penalty for all people by dying on the cross. And His rising from the dead gives us our entrance into Heaven. But we need to be careful here! Satan has sown a lie into the world. He has many people believe that God is good and He loves us, so he would not send anyone to hell. Jesus died for all people and everyone is going to heaven. That’s not true.

Sin is corporate. It applies to everyone. Salvation, though is individual. It applies only to those who have accepted Christ Jesus as their personal Savior: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16; emphasis added). “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” ( Romans 5:1,2).

By Adam all humans are dead, and by Jesus’ resurrection we who accept Christ as Savior have risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). God never sends anyone to hell. Each person makes his or her own choice as to where he or she will spend eternity by either accepting Christ or rejecting Him. Individual salvation is necessary because if God were to allow everyone into His presence simply because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, He would have to let in all those people who reject him and continue to lead sinful lives. He cannot and will not do that. Only those people who have repented of their sins and accept Jesus as their personal Savior are brought back into God’s family.

And, we cannot work our way back into God’s presence. It’s our human nature to earn our rewards somehow, to do it ourselves. Let’s be honest here; that comes from pride. We want to show others what we have accomplished, how well we have done. That doesn’t work for salvation because pride is the original sin, the one that got us into the fallen state to begin with. Committing one sin to get us out of others doesn’t work, it just digs you in deeper: “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). Notice the order here: Salvation first, then works done in Christ.

Living in Christ is what God intended for us in the first place. It is how He designed us to live. That doesn’t mean you will ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after when you become a Christian. Jesus tells us that in this life we will have troubles. But, he adds, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And so can you in Christ. It’s the only way you will get out of this world alive. Don’t be a mugwamp. A mugwamp is a little bird that sits on a fence with his mug on one side and his wamp on the other. No fence sitters are allowed. Not deciding for Christ is the same as deciding against Him if you die in your sinful state. That is because you have not repented of your sins and made a personal commitment to Christ. Make the decision for Christ now if you are not a Christian. You don’t have a guarantee of the next minute, much less tomorrow. If you are a Christian, there’s thousands of dead people in your area that need to be resurrected in Christ. Talk to as many as you can, and start now.

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