Sin and Sins

Once again, because of comments to yesterday’s post, I felt compelled to see what Scripture had to say about Sin as something inherent and sins as deeds of lawlessness. I believe in both but realized I couldn’t give chapter and verse to show from Scripture that both exist.

Interestingly, I came away from my study (reluctantly—it’s really interesting to read the Bible asking one focused question like that) with the conviction that the sin nature of man does exist, but I don’t see it by name. It’s actually somewhat amusing to me because some time ago I did a similar study to defend the existence of free will, and in the same way found that term is not one the Bible uses in the same theological way we use it today.

(For those of you who don’t see the issue as amusing, it’s because those most adamant in their belief in free will—not named as such in the Bible—are most likely the ones who disbelieve the concept of the sin nature—not named as such in the Bible. And vice versa. Irony! 😀 )

Be that as it may, how do I remain convinced Mankind has a sin nature? For one, the Genesis 5 passage I quoted yesterday sets the stage. Other passages must take this fundamental truth into consideration.

But what other passages? First, I want to reiterate that I do not believe in “proof texts.” I believe the Bible as a unit tells us what God wants us to know. To isolate one verse from its context can distort Truth. Not always. But Scripture should be examined in light of Scripture.

In that vein, then, I think no one would disagree with Kameron that sins are acts, thoughts, attitudes of lawlessness. In addition, Romans, supported by a plethora of verses, makes it clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The disagreement, as I understand it, is what compels all to sin. I can’t help but think this is a semantic discussion to a degree. Clearly, something must be acting on Mankind. Is it a corrupted will? The flesh? I’ve understood this to be the sin nature—another name for “the flesh”—which each person inherited, going back to Genesis when Seth was born in the likeness of Adam.

Paul’s argument in the book of Romans that sin entered through the disobedience of one man seems to bear this out. The entire discussion is in chapter 5, but here’s the key verse: “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (v. 19, emphasis mine).

Couple that with Romans 3 and Paul’s Old Testament quote: “There is none righteous, not even one.” The implication would seem to be the condition in which Mankind exists.

Romans also refers to man being a slave to sin, clearly a picture of a condition without options: “Though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart … and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness …For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness … But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”

Still more from Romans—the concept of an old self and a new self. “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”

This concept also makes sense of Jesus’s statements to Nicodemus in John 3: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God … That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Another convincing reference is Paul’s characterization of us as sinners: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Clearly this doesn’t mean while we were in the midst of some lawless act. I wasn’t even born then. A verse or two later, he refers to us as “enemies.”

Finally, for the purpose of this blog post, Paul also discusses reconciliation with God, as if something separated us from Him, made us enemies, but no longer does. And yet he also exhorts believers to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies, to not go on presenting the members of our bodies to sin as instruments of unrighteousness. The implication is that believers still must battle sinning.

What then, did Christ do that brought reconciliation? His blood sacrifice was a payment for sins, yes, which cancelled our debt and stamped us forgiven, but His death and resurrection was also victory over Sin, over the corruption that ruled our hearts.

Published in: on June 3, 2008 at 11:48 am  Comments (5)  
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