For thousands of years the world has been under the curse of sin. It is a self-inflicted blight in that Adam and Eve, our first parents, made a conscious decision to disobey God, thereby falling into sin. We inherit sin and its consequences from our first parents. We thus need to understand sin, and thereby understand ourselves.
2. Sin defined
1Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
1Jn 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin…
Nothing is left out; every act of unrighteousness, every selfish thought, breaks God’s law, and is thus sin. It is our purpose here to define sin - the relationship between law and sin is addressed in study: ‘Law: the Ten Commandments 2’.
Sin is against God
Ps 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: …
2Sa 12:13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD …
When we sin we break God’s law. Therefore all sin is against God - others suffer the consequences of our sin. For instance, David murdered Uriah (see 2nd Samuel chapter 11), yet he declared that He had sinned only against God (Ps 51:4 above) - Uriah suffered the consequence of David's sin against God.
3. The origin of sin
Sin did not originate with Adam and Eve in Eden - it originated in Heaven with Lucifer, who was the highest of all the angels.
3.1 Sin enters heaven
Eze 28:15,17 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
17 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.
Jn 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
1Jn 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning ...
No reason for sin
There is no legitimate reason why sin arose in Heaven - if there were a legitimate reason, sin would be justified and God could not condemn it.
There was no reason for Lucifer, who became Satan (Strong’s H7854, the opponent; G4567, the accuser), to feel aggrieved - he had everything that God could endow upon a created being.
Is 14:12-14 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!
13 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:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Lucifer (Satan) wanted to be more than a created being, he wanted to be equal with God and be worshipped. In one sense he has achieved that aim, he is called the god of this world (2Co 4:4), and is worshipped by many. Those he has deceived, however, don’t realize he is the father of lies and the prince of devils (Mt 9:34; 12:24).
3.2 Sin enters the world
Satan, and the angels who chose to join him, were cast out of heaven to this Earth:
Re 12:7-9 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceivers the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Re 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
3.3 Sin enters the human race
The test of loyalty to God
Genesis chapter 3 charts the entry of sin into mankind. Satan had succeeded in deceiving many of the heavenly angels. Thus God had to introduce a test of loyalty: Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat the fruit of a particular tree, on pain of death if they disobeyed.
The tree was called ‘ the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Ge 2:17). If they ate of the tree, Adam and Eve would know (i.e. become) evil, and retain knowledge of good.
Eve, then Adam, chose to sin
Satan purposed to deceive Adam and Eve into disobedience. Eve listened to Satan when he cast doubt upon the consequences of eating of the forbidden tree - she believed Satan rather than God, and ate of the tree, thus sinning.
Adam, when he saw what Eve had done, resolved to share her fate, and ate of the forbidden fruit. Eve was deceived - Adam chose to sin, but both are guilty. They were without excuse.
Note. Many speculate about precisely when Eve sinned - they say it was when she doubted God. However, Scripture states plainly that she sinned when she ate of the forbidden tree - if she had not eaten she would not have sinned. We are not free to add to Scripture with our own ideas.
The immediate consequence of sin
The penalty for eating the forbidden fruit was death. This was not an arbitrary penalty, but the natural consequence of disobeying God, who is the source of all life, from which Adam and Eve had separated themselves.
Adam and Eve did not enter the grave immediately, but they were surely dead, i.e. dead in sin - which is our inheritance.
4. Sin perpetuated in mankind
Adam was able to pass on to every person who has ever lived and is living, only what he possessed, i.e. sin and death:
Ps 14:3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Ps 53:3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Isa 64:6 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.
Ecc 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Ro 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Ro 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Ro 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
No matter how ‘good’ a person may appear to human eyes, in the eyes of Heaven that person is lost in sin.
4.1 Sin is natural to fallen man
Sin is not merely what we do, sin is what we are, it is our very nature:
Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
Je 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Ps 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Rom 7:18,19 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Every member of the human race is helpless - it is natural for us to sin. Of ourselves we are utterly unable to escape from sin - all our very best efforts cannot cancel our sin.
5. The consequences of sin: separation from God
Is 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Is 64:7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
Ho 5:5,6 And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.
6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them.
Sin has caused a deep rift between God and mankind so that we can neither see nor hear Him directly. As a consequence, to believe that God exists requires faith (He 11:6).
6. The fundamental nature of sin - what Christ covers
Rom 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered [Strong’s G1943, conceal, forgive].
Christ covers all sin, but we need to understand precisely what that means. The conventional understanding of sin is that it consists of wrong acts, but is this really the case?
6.1 Adam’s and Eve’s sin
When Adam and Eve sinned they rebelled against God - they changed their allegiance from God to Satan, becoming the same as Satan in nature.
The nature of mankind's sin
Rom 6:12 Let not sin [Strong’s G266, sin- abstract form: sinfulness] therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
The Greek for sin here is an abstract noun. An abstract noun refers to a quality or state (Oxford English Dictionary). In the New Testament the abstract form of ‘sin’ occurs 174 times out of a total of 221 occurrences.
Thus the New Testament is primarily concerned with the state of sin (sinfulness).
The state of sin is what mankind fell into when they rebelled. It is the deep underlying problem, from which acts of sin stem. It is no wonder then, that we can do nothing to save ourselves.
6.2 Christ takes away the (state of) sin of the world (i.e. all mankind)
Jn 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin [Strong's G266, sinfulness] of the world.
The Greek here is in the sense of aggregate sin (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon). Thus Christ came to take away the cumulative sinfulness of mankind.
Christ was made the state of sin (sinfulness) for us
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin [Strong's G266, sinfulness] for us, who knew no sin [Strong's G266]; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Christ was made what we are, the state of sin, so that we can be made what He is: sinless.
In summary, Christ covers the collective state of sin for all mankind. He did so by being made the state of sin for us, so we can be made into His state: sinless perfection.
7. Sin not remembered, but not erased
Sin removed and forgotten
Je 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember [Strong’s H2142, remember, mention] their sin no more.
Eze 33:14,16 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
16 None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned [Strong’s H2142] unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
When a sinner repents, all the sin committed by the repentant one is set aside by God and not remembered. Does this mean that the sin of the repentant is erased?
Sin remembered, righteousness forgotten
Eze 3:20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
It is clear from this verse that when a repentant sinner later repudiates his repentance, he will die in his sin, and his righteousness will not be taken into account. Therefore, his sin was not erased when he repented.
Thus, that the sin of the repentant is not remembered/mentioned means it is not held against us while we remain faithful - it is held on record until future judgment.
Sin eventually erased
The sin of the repentant will be erased for all eternity, but not until Christ finishes His final cleansing ministry - see study: ‘The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary’.
Only then will the promise be realized fully:
Ps 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
8. The sin that cannot be forgiven
Mt 12:31,32 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
It is very important to understand this fearful warning.
The Holy Spirit grieved (Strong’s G3076, to distress)
The work of the Holy Spirit is to reprove sin (Jn 16:7,8), and this sin is defined as not believing in Christ (Jn 16:9).
The Holy Spirit will convict of sin time after time. Those who refuse time after time to act upon that conviction commit sin continually by rejecting Christ - they grieve the Holy Spirit (Ep 4:30).
Eventually the heart becomes hardened against the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will eventually leave those who cling obstinately to their idols; for example:
Ho 4:17 Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.
Those who prefer their idols of sin blaspheme the Holy Spirit. We can come to repentance only when the Holy Spirit calls us - if He ceases to call us because our hearts are hardened in sin we are surely lost.
Wilful denial of truth
He 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
Sinning against the Holy Spirit is a wilful act which cuts one off from the redeeming Sacrifice of the Cross. This is the sin that cannot be forgiven, to be lost by our own hand because we have placed ourselves where we cannot be reached.
Sin originated in Heaven with Lucifer (Satan), and mankind chose to follow him into sin, thereby rebelling against God - we fell into the state of sin. Each one of us inherited the state of sin from Adam.
Every human being is helpless, lost in sin. The Holy Spirit pleads with everyone to repent. Those who continually choose their idols above the pleadings of the Holy Spirit will eventually place themselves where they cannot be reached, and consequently they cannot be saved.
This study has addressed the various aspects of sin. Salvation from sin is addressed in studies: ‘Salvation 1’ and ‘Salvation 2’.