Sin, Different Action Considered


     Involved in a study of God and man is inevitably the study of sin. Sin is the great separator between God and man. The prophet Isaiah said the following:

     "1: Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 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. 3: For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness" (Isa. 59).

     In view of the ability of sin to estrange man from God and cause God not to hear man's prayers, it is urgent that we understand what sin is. One noun translated sin is hamartia. Hamartia is simply defined as, "a failing to hit the mark" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 30). John wrote thus regarding sin, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (I Jn. 3: 4). The original Greek is literally rendered: "Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (pas ho poion ten hamartian kai ten poiei anomian kai he hamartia estin he anomia). Lawlessness (anomia) is to be without law. The notion that since man is under a system of salvation by grace that there is no law is utterly ridiculous. If there were no law, there would be no sin (Jas. 1: 25). "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," wrote Paul (Rom. 3: 23). John said that all sin, including himself, and that to deny sin makes God a liar because God has said man sins (I Jn. 1: 8-10).

     When God says through his word to do something or not do a matter and man fails to obey, man sins. To further help us to understand sin, we shall now notice different action associated with sin. This associated action should provide us with better insight relative to sin so that we can attempt to avoid sin.

     Man commits sin. Remember what John penned, "Whosoever committeth sin…" Man himself commits sin. Hence, sin is not something that we arbitrarily inherit from our fathers or from our distant father, Adam (Ezek. 3). Man sins through sins of omission, failing to do what he should, or by commission, doing what he should not (Jas. 4: 17; 2 Jn. 9). The truth of the matter is, "All unrighteousness is sin…" (I Jn. 5: 17, cp. Ps. 119: 172). Sin is not something that God unjustly imputes to man, man commits sin. Hence, man cannot accuse God or blame God because man sins (Rom. 3: 10).

     The forgiveness of sin. The good news about sin is that man can obtain the forgiveness of his sins. To the non-Christian inquiring of salvation, Peter enjoined: "…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2: 38). "Forgiveness" is translated from the Greek noun aphesis and means dismissal or release. The verb aphiemi is a compound word consisting of apo, from, and hiemi, to send; hence, literally to send from.

     The erring child of God procures forgiveness through repentance and confession of sin (Acts 8: 22, 2 Cor. 7: 9-11). John wrote thus to Christians: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I Jn. 1: 9). Jesus' blood is the source of the forgiveness regarding both the non-Christian and the Christian (Matt. 26: 28, I Jn. 1: 7).

     Some forget that they were purged of sin. In discussing different action associated with sin, one possible action is the forgetting of having been purged of old sin. Peter sets forth this possibility in the following way:

     "But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins" (2 Pet. 1: 9).

     Some might wonder how a child of God could actually forget something so important as having been washed of old sins. In the context, Peter is enjoining spiritual growth (vs. 5-11). Verse nine shows a negative consequence of the failure to grow. It appears it is the apex of spiritual indifference when one actually forgets cleansing.

     Lay aside sin. The writer of Hebrews exhorts, "…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doeth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12: 1). One commentator offers the following comments on the idea of "lay aside sin:"

     "In this clause the apostle makes allusion particularly to those who run foot races in the amphitheatre. These contestants laid aside every thing that might in any way serve to impede their progress. The original word ogchos means a weight, a burden, a swelling, an encumbrance, and it is evidently used here to denote whatever has a tendency to interrupt or retard our progress in the way of holiness; such as 'the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life…" (New Testament Commentary on Hebrews, by Robert Milligan, pg. 342).

     Enjoy the pleasure of sin. Sin does, indeed, offer pleasure, albeit momentary and fleeting. Concerning Moses it was said, "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Heb. 11: 25). Many are as the widows of whom Paul wrote, they "…live in pleasure…" (I Tim. 5: 6). Paul said that these widows are, "…dead while she liveth" (Ibid.).

     Teeming millions are performing the action of enjoying sin. However, they shall pay a high price for their short-lived joy. The wages of sin is death and the way of the transgressor is hard (Rom. 6: 23; Prov. 13: 15).

     Exposure of sin. Paul wrote, "Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5: 10, 11, some translations have "expose them"). The devil works under the cloak of darkness and cannot stand to have light shed on immorality and false doctrine. Regarding this action, we are talking about what action is to be taken regarding sin.

     Lying, abortion, abuse of drugs, profanity, pornography, teaching that man is passive in his salvation (salvation by faith only), one church is as good as another, ad infinitum, are all contrary to God's teaching and must be challenged and exposed (Col. 3: 9; Jas. 2: 24; Matt. 16: 18, 19).

     Partaking in sin. Not only must the child of God expose sin, but also he must be careful not to directly participate in sin. "I do not teach error," one exclaims, but does that person aid and assist those who do? The apostle John shows it is wrong to fellowship or partake in another's sin and that one can do that by actively supporting or simply bidding "God's speed" to those advancing error. He also shows that such action has attendant adverse consequences, such as not having God or Christ (2 Jn. 9-11).

     Sin can reign. The scriptures warn, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof" (Rom. 6: 12). Paul has just taught that one should "…not continue in sin that grace may abound" (vs. 1). Continuing in sin is contrary to the fact of being "…baptized into Jesus Christ" (vs. 3, 4). Such is incongruous because in baptism, "…our old man is crucified with him…that henceforth we should not serve sin" (vs. 6). To allow sin to reign means to practice sin and live in it. Those who practice sin are the "servants of sin" (vs. 17, 18).

     Cessation from sin. While man is not without sin in the absolute sense, man can cease from the practice of sin (I Jn. 2: 1, 2). Consider the language of Peter:

     "1: Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2: That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3: For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you" (I Pet. 4).

     Some believe "he" in verse two is Christ. However, Jesus never sinned; hence, he had no sin from which to cease (Heb. 4: 15). The language is literally, "…because the one having suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin" (hoti ho pathon sarki pepautai hamartias). Suffering has a way of purging and removing the desire to sin.

     As seen, there are a number of actions associated with sin. One of the hardest actions to perform for many is the confessing of sin (I Jn. 1: 9). To confess sin is to speak the same thing (homologeo). The idea seems to be that one says the same thing about sin and himself as God does, he is a sinner in need of Jesus' expiating blood. Of the ten noticed actions relative to sin, five are destructive and further sin. Such actions as forgiveness, confession, laying aside, exposing, and ceasing from sin are all advantageous. You and I elect the kind of action that we take when it comes to sin. God has done all that he can short of interfering with man's free moral agency, it is up to man to take the appropriate action. Some do, most do not (Matt. 7: 13, 14).