Eve M. Harrell
The Truth About Sin
How is that for a title? Did I capture your attention? Sin is a “dirty” word that brings with it all sorts of feelings and emotions- condemning and punishing in nature, I am sure. Culture will attempt to re-define sin for the populace while using phrases like cancel culture to incite fear of retribution. Regardless of popular opinion, it’s important to know the truth, our very life depends upon it.
Sin, the verb, in its very root form means “to miss the mark, miss the way.” The Hebrew translation from the Strong’s 2398 is “chata” (pronounced khaw-taw.) God uses several words to define sin, including absolute sin, uncleanness, trespass, transgression, offense and iniquity.
Absolute sin refers to all sin, there is no relativity in the matter of sin.
Uncleanness refers to a physical or moral blemish so as to make a person impure according to the law.
A trespass would be violating a boundary or a law, whether intentional or unintentional.
A transgression would be willful trespassing- knowingly committing a sin with blatant disregard for God and/or the person we are sinning against.
An offense is a type of sin which is pre-meditated toward another, God or person.
Iniquity is a type of sin that includes a conscious decision to hurt someone else or to rebel against God’s law. Iniquity can lead to generational sin.
You will notice that sin, if left unchecked, has a progression. Romans 6:23 tells us that, “The wages (or payment) of sin is death.” Confused and mislead, the person committing the sin may have a very good reason in their own mind for doing so, but regardless of intention, these willful acts will lead to death every time.
So, what is “the mark being missed?” Consider a bullseye- in archery, the goal is to hit the center. The arrow is my attention and my affection, while the center is the heart and holiness of God. When our focus is on Him, we do not want to sin, we desire to know Him, to be like Him, to love like Him; all as He transforms us into His likeness. Adam and Eve knew this relationship as they walked with God in the cool of the morning. But just as they fatefully learned, when we take our focus off of Him even for a moment, temptation is waiting in the wings to lead us into sin, which will inevitably lead us to doubt and ultimately away from God. Therefore, we are missing the mark by taking our eye off of His heart and away from His holiness. The result? “For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
“But if I fall short, what is the point of even trying?” Don’t let this truth dishearten you, friend, because just above this declaration, Paul teaches, “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to ALL who believe.” Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Yes, Jesus fulfilled every law and gave us the opportunity to be righteous in Him. It is not what we do but what He did. We make sin about our works and allow our works to define us, subsequently turning our works into our identity. But what if we have it backwards? What if first, God wants us to see Him and through His Son see ourselves; and because of what He did we desire to break free from sin?
But before I get ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
If you’ve grown up in the Church, you’ve heard the term “original sin.” Original sin was introduced in a garden. A garden that God created and declared, “very good.” God, the One who is holy, gave Adam and Eve authority over everything He created. However, God had an enemy who would attempt to separate Adam and Eve from their beloved Creator. Lucifer, a beautiful angel filled with pride, became an enemy to God after desiring His throne, subsequently being sent to earth with his co-conspirators (You can find the details of his fall in Isaiah 14:12-18.) He would take on the form of a serpent meant to deceive Adam and Eve into disobeying God’s command to “not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
How did he deceive them? Very much the same way that he deceives us today- he tempted through a lie, whereby diverting their attention to something other than their Creator. Yes, Satan is the father of lies and his MO is to twist the truth just slightly to make it appealing to the one being tempted. The serpent’s lie, “Did God really say…?” Followed with, “You will not certainly die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
It is critical to know the truth, else fall for the lie of the enemy. What is the truth? God created us for relationship with Him. He seeks to draw us near while transforming us into His likeness. He is doing the work to make us holy. The identity of the first man and woman were sealed by their Creator who loved them. When the enemy said, "for God knows," he placed doubt in their minds. Doubt of who God was, doubt of who they were, doubt in their purpose. Suddenly a doubt-inspired pride was in the drivers seat as Adam and Eve took their eye off of God's heart and disobeyed- and so original sin was born.
Was their sin the eating of the fruit (works) or the diversion into pride? God’s enemy became our enemy when he appealed to their pride to be like God. A deeper question for us today might be, is sin about "what I did wrong" or does it shine a light on "what I am placing my belief/faith/trust in?" The answer to this question leads us to the heart. In fact, God gave us a caution in Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Adam and Eve's failure to guard their hearts opened a door to the enemy, leading them into a trap where they would exchange the authority God had given them for a lie. Subsequently, their tempter would become the “god of this world, blinding the minds of unbelievers,” according to 2 Corinthians 4:4. Oh and it should be noted that this open door granted the enemy the right to condemn mankind to the Father. An open door that only God could shut. Today, falling for the lie creates open doors that serve to drive us into circumstances leading into darkness, pain, isolation, strongholds such as addiction and hate, and yes, death. Don't believe me? Look around, the fruit of sin and death are everywhere. And the tragedy of not understanding this truth is that, separated from the Father, eternal death is the final consequence.
Is all of this sin talk making you feel discouraged? Well I am here to encourage you friends that this is not the end of the story! We have a Victor and He has a plan! From the first moment of original sin, God began the work to restore us back to Himself. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Yes, God sent His Son, Jesus, to be the atoning Sacrifice for sin, whereby covering our sin with His blood (making us clean) and restoring our rightful place to the Father (making us holy.) But why was sacrifice needed? Well, remember God’s command in the garden was “not” to eat of the fruit, else they would die. While the enemy planted a seed of doubt to this truth, twisting the truth did not make it false. Twisting the truth, today, does not make it false. Death is the payment required by sin, UNLESS the blood of the atoning Sacrifice is applied by the One who conquered sin and death once and for all.
Join me tomorrow as I unpack this GOOD NEWS!