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A Brief Doctrine of Sin

June 5, 2019

 The doctrine of sin cannot be established in a vacuum.  What I mean is that it interplays with many other doctrines as we saw in the previous summary of the doctrine of man. We will continue to see the doctrine of sin, affecting how other doctrines are understood.

 

First, we will define some terms. Sin has many names throughout the scriptures: ignorance, error, missing the mark, transgression, iniquity, rebellion, perversion, abomination, etc.

 

For instance, the term ignorance and a modern equivalent "stupid" are often pushed back against in Christian circles, and yet the scripture uses these terms concerning sin. Both, innocent ignorance and willful ignorance are sinful. Two examples of these would be Romans 1:13 and Ephesians 4:18, respectively. 

 

One of the most vivid pictures of willful ignorance comes from Jeremiah, chapter 10. In this chapter, God refers to Israel as "stupid" three separate times. In one instance, he refers to them as being "stupid and devoid of knowledge," and yet we know that He is speaking to the house of Israel;  those who had His law. Therefore to understand what is right (i.e., follow the statutes of God) and to choose not to know them (that is to turn a blind eye to those statutes) is willful ignorance and therefore sin.

 

Missing the mark is another common term used concerning sin. Proverbs 19:2 speaks of hasty feet that "miss" the way. This is one of the more literal uses of the Hebrew term chatá. Meanwhile, in the New Testament, the word hamartia and hamartano are commonly used. 

 

In Acts 25:8, the word is rendered in English to offend, and in Acts 2:38 Peter calls for the men of Israel to repent of their “sins;” same term. The point in bringing these two particular scriptures to bear is that sinning, to miss the mark of God, is to offend God. And as we see in Acts 25:8 when we are not sinning, we can make the case that we are not an offense.

 

With these brief definitions, we now move to the source of sin. Within our doctrine of sin, it is essential to note that sin entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12) and that we are tempted to sin by our lusts and desires and through the work of an enemy. We must also note that all have sinned without exception (Romans 3:23). However, we are never enticed to sin by God (James 1:13).

 

Within the doctrine of sin comes the discussion of original sin. It is my conviction that Romans 5:12 communicates that sin entered the worlds through Adam but that all die because, all sin. It does not appear to communicate that we are all guilty of Adam's sin. Instead, we are guilty each of our own. The result of sin as we see in scripture is death. And the only answer to that is the life that is given by Jesus on the cross. 

 

In review, we know that sin is missing the mark. The consequence of sin is death. The effects of sin are felt even now, which include separation from God and guilt. But thanks be to Christ Jesus who takes away the sin of the world.

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