As we consider the great themes of Scripture, we cannot bypass the doctrine of sin. Many today would like to deny the fact of sin, or indeed that there is any God whom we could sin against. This doctrine however, displays the awful fact of sin as it is declared and displayed through man’s own conscience and history.
The Scriptures show that sin entered the universe through satan, and was then introduced to the human race through Adam’s transgression. Genesis 3 is an accurate historical record of the entrance of this hellish principle into the created world.
The Bible reveals the essence of sin to be self-centredness with its tragic result being death and separation from God. The Bible also reveals God’s redemptive plan in Christ to forever rid the universe of sin’s power and presence forever.
The fact of sin
Only someone wilfully ignorant would deny that something is drastically wrong in the earth and among its inhabitants. A cursory viewing of the evening news should be enough to convince us that a negative principle is at work in the universe, driving men to their own destruction. The Bible calls this principle or law, sin. As Conner points out in “Foundations”, “All chaos, disharmony and strife in the world can be traced back to the fact of the existence of sin.”
Creation declares the existence of sin
When sin entered the human race, all nature fell with its king, Adam, and came under a curse.
“Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.” (Gen 3:17 NKJV)
The forces of nature with their awful unpredictability are a result of this curse. The Bible says that all of creation groans under this burden:
“because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Rom 8:21-23 NKJ
Human History declares the existence of sin
The bloody history of mankind, and the ravages of corruption, control and selfishness display the reality of the principle of sin at work in the history of mankind. Where do these wars and fighting among the nations arise; from the existence of sin.
Human logic, conscience, experience and religions declare the existence of sin
Human intellect would like to deny that a deep principle of conflict is at work within the being of mankind, but reality shows us that although there may be the desire to do what is right, evil is present, driving a man contrary to his best intention. The law of conscience at work within the hearts of mankind, and the lawless corruption of modern society, also gives abundant evidence of sin’s reality. Human religions also bear witness to sin’s reality in the fact that almost all religions have developed some form of priesthood and sacrificial system to appease their god or gods. Only Christianity presents an answer to the sin problem, in the Person of Jesus Christ.
The Scriptures and Believers declare the fact of sin
The Scriptures unequivocally declare the fact of the universality of sin, placing all of creation under its terrible sway:
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23 NKJV)
See also 1 Kings 8:46; Prov 20:9; Eccl 7:20; Gal 3:22; 1 John 1:8
Two great mysteries are at work in the universe; the mystery of iniquity and the mystery of godliness;
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness…” (1Tim 3:16 KJV)
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work…” (2Th 2:7 KJV)
Believers become acutely aware of the working of these mysteries, and that through the Word and the Spirit of God they must overcome the work of iniquity.
What is sin?
The Bible defines sin in several ways, answering the question for us: What is sin?
i. “The thought of foolishness is sin” (Prov 24:9 KJV)
When satan and Adam entertained the foolish thought that they could be “as gods”, usurping the true God and His place of universal authority, even the thought was sin. The Bible says that the fool has said in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). This is indeed the very sin that our eternal destiny hangs upon (John 16:8-9)
ii. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1John 3:4 KJV)
Transgress means to pass across or go over a forbidden boundary.
iii. “All unrighteousness is sin…” (1John 5:17 KJV)
All that does not conform to the just standard of God falls short and is sin.
iv. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17 KJV)
Sometimes referred to as sins of omission. Both satan and Adam knew to do good, according to God’s law, but chose not to.
v. “An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.” (Prov 21:4 KJV)
All sin is rooted in pride and independence. When a man is not rightly related to God through faith, even his good deeds and worthy labours are tainted. A sinner can do nothing but sin; an inward transformation is required to sanctify every outward activity. As Isaiah said: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Is 64:6 KJV)
vi. “…whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom 14:23 KJV)
To not believe and act upon the word of God is sin. Also, to transgress our conscience in any matter is to step into an area of sin.
Hebrew words for sin
- Sin: Hebrew: chattah
An offence, sometimes habitual sin, and its penalty. To miss, to sin, to forfeit, to lack
- Transgression: Hebrew: “pawsah”
To break away from just authority; trespass, quarrel, revolt
- Iniquity: Hebrew: “avown” Perversity, evil
- Trespass: Hebrew: “asham” To be guilty, a fault
Greek words for sin
Several words are used to describe or define sin in the New Testament. The main ones are as follows.
Sin or sins. Used 174 times in the NT.
“To miss the mark; to seek to obtain results beyond the limits of ones capabilities.” Refers both to the inner principle of sin and its outward expression; both the power of sin and its fruit.
to transgress, to step beyond or cross a line or boundary.
to fall aside or fall away from, to deviate or fall away from uprightness
The Origin of Sin
A. satan’s fall
Some of the most dramatic scenes in the Biblical record reveal to us the heinous entrance of sin into the universe, and into the world, together with its far-reaching and tragic consequences.
Genesis again introduces the main characters in this history. Other writers in later books also add detail, which help us understand the events of Genesis chapter 3. It must be stressed again and again; Genesis is a genuine and trustworthy historical account. The events recorded actually happened precisely as they are documented. If the historicity of these events regarding the entrance of sin into the world through the transgression of Adam is questioned, then the historical death of Christ and his act of righteousness destroying sin’s dominion is also of no consequence.
The tragedy begins
The Scriptures clearly show that the first moral beings to be created were the angelic hosts, and that Lucifer and his angelic followers were the first and original sinners.
In a perfect universe an archangel named Lucifer imagines in his heart a prideful place above even his benevolent Creator. Thus “the mystery of iniquity” begins (2 Thessalonians 2:7). His original estate is recorded under the guise of two earthly kings through whom he later worked his nefarious plans; the King of Tyre and the King of Babylon.
Isaiah peeks into this drama:
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”Isaiah 14:12–14 KJV
Ezekiel pulls back further the veil screening satan from our sight:
“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.Ezekiel 28:11–19 KJV
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.”
Here is a being, created so beautiful, so wise, the anointed cherub and guardian of God’s throne, perfect in all his ways from the day he was created; until “iniquity was found in him.” (Ezekiel 28:15)
Satan was the originator of sin. Evil itself originated in his heart.
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1John 3:8 NKJV)
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44 NKJV)
God did not create him to sin. He was a freewill being with the power of choice. Beholding his own beauty, wisdom, anointing and ministry, he was lifted up in pride, forgetting that all he had was from God, and then coveted a higher position, even God’s. Covetousness and self-will caused his downfall and he was cast from heaven like lightening.
“And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18 NKJV)
With him, scripture tells us that numerous angels were deceived into sinning with Lucifer in his rebellion. They too, fell, becoming completely apostate and unredeemable:
“For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;” (2Pet 2:4 NKJV)
“And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;” (Jude 1:6 NKJV)
It is thought that up to a third of the angelic hosts may have been drawn into this vain revolt:
“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth…” (Rev 12:3-4 NKJV)
The principle of sin still burns and torments satan relentlessly, destroying him from the inside out, “like a fire from his midst.” (Ezekiel 28:18).
Satan then proceeded to cause the fall of man through Adam…