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Theology > Salvation > Salvation's Necessity > Sin and Sins


Sin denotes a state, and sins denote acts; and both of these realities characterize every individual. Man is sinful, and he commits sinful acts. Sin, therefore, is inward and outward; initially, it is an inward disposition of rebellion that manifests itself continually in an outward display of evil. Both the inner musings and the external deeds are evil, exceedingly so.

Man is characterized by a sinful state and sinful acts; the sinful state is what man is, while the sinful acts are what man does. And the two—sin and sins—are intricately related. The sins flow from the state, that is, because man is what he is he does what he does. A sinful nature produces sinful conduct; it can produce no other. Clean water cannot flow from a dirty fountain, and a polluted nature issues forth deeds of pollution.

Each of these facts, the sinful state and the sinful acts, is clearly set forth in Scripture:

The State of Sin – Man’s Condition

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me (Ps. 51:5);

what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts . . . (Matt. 15:18-19);

the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil (Lu. 6:45)

 that the body of sin might be brought to nothing (Rom. 6:6);

I am of the flesh, sold under sin (Rom. 7:14);

but sin that dwells within me (Rom. 7:17).

The Acts of Sin – Man’s Conduct

for there is no one who does not sin (I Ki. 8:46);

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities (Ps. 51:9);

He will save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21);

the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil (Lu. 6:45)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (I Jo. 1:9).

Both the state and acts are depicted in the following verse, as well as their relationship to each other: “the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil” (Lu. 6:45). These are the words of Jesus, and He articulates three truths that characterize each individual: one, every individual has an evil treasure, that is, an evil heart; two, the evil treasure produces evil, meaning that from the condition specific conduct arises; and three, because of the evil treasure and the evil deeds, the individual in the eyes of God is evil.

Our will can choose
only that in which our nature delights.
Michael Horton

Neither the state nor the acts can stand alone, implying that where there is the one dimension there is the accompanying other dimension. Where there is the condition there is the conduct. And the truth is that the two are so closely connected that they cannot be separated; where there is the one there is the other: if there is a state there will be the acts, and if there are the acts then it indicates a state. There is such unity between the two that there can be no disconnection between the two; they are so intricately related that they are one and cannot be divorced.

Both the sin and the sins incur guilt, condemnation, and ultimately judgment. Because of the condition of man and the certain consequences of that condition man is in need of salvation, a salvation which he cannot effect for himself.

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