The Gravity of Sin

targetIn my last post, I wrote about why we need forgiveness for our sin. Some people don’t understand why Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins. They don’t understand the need for Jesus to pay the sin debt for mankind. In this week’s post, I want to cover what the Bible says about sin and the seriousness of it and how it affects our relationship with God. Sin is man trying to improve him (or her) self without God.

The very word “SIN” has in recent years been dropped from most people’s vocabulary. When the word “SIN” is mentioned, it is most likely misunderstood. What is meant when we say sin? The New Testament uses 5 main Greek words for sin, which together portray its various aspects, both passive and active. The most common is hamartia (hä-mär-tē-ə) which depicts sin as missing of a target, the failure to attain a goal. Adikia (ad-ee-kee’-ah) is unrighteousness or iniquity. Poneria (pon-ay-ree’-ah) is evil of a degenerate kind. Parabasis (par-ab’-as-is) a transgression or stepping over a known boundary. Anomia (an-om-ee’-ah) is lawlessness the disregard or violation of a known law.

Whenever one of these Greek words are used in scripture, a standard is failed to be reached or a line deliberately crossed. It is assumed throughout scripture that the law was established by God. It is His moral law that expresses his righteous character. Sin is in itself self-centeredness. Sin is not a regrettable lapse from conventional standards; its essence is hostility to God. Paul writes in Romans 8:7, “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” Sin is defiance, arrogance, the desire to be equal with God; the assertion of human independence over against God. When we sin, we are making ourselves god in the situation.

Once we have seen that every sin we commit is an expression of this spirit of revolt against God, we are able to accept David’s confession in Psalm 51:4;

Against You, You only, I have sinned

And done what is evil in Your sight,

So that You are justified when You speak

And blameless when You judge.

Perhaps it’s a deep-seated reluctance to face up to the gravity of sin that our society is omitting it from our vocabulary. In the book “Whatever Became of Sin,” Karl Menninger (a psychiatrist) shares his thoughts on how society has removed the word sin from our vocabulary. In describing the indefinite feeling of western society, its general mood of gloom and doom, Karl Menninger adds that “one misses any mention of ‘sin.’” Enquiring into the cases of sin’s disappearance, Menninger notes first that “many former sins have become crimes, “ so that responsibility for dealing with them has passed from church to state, from priest to policeman, while others have dissipated into sicknesses, or at least into symptoms of sickness, so that in their cases punishment has been replaced by treatment. A third convenient device called “collective irresponsibility” has enabled us to transfer the blame for some of our deviant behavior from ourselves as individuals to society as a whole or to one of its many groupings.”

Sin cannot be dismissed as merely a cultural taboo or social blunder. For sin is a breaking away from God and from the rest of humanity – an act of rebellion.


NOTES: Parts of this post have been taken from John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ.”


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