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THEOLOGY > Sin > The Character of Sin > The Christian Intrepretation 


In opposition to the erroneous interpretations (see: Erroneous Interpretations), there is the Christian interpretation which views sin in terms of God and His nature; this affirms that sin is related to Law and therefore is a moral consideration. Sin is the lack of conformity of the creature to the character of God, resulting in depravity and corruption (see: Depravity) on the part of the person and thereby incurring guilt (see: Guilt).

Sin must be discussed in terms of God.

This is a point that is constantly made at this website because every discussion should be from the perspective of God and His Revelation; all aspects of every discussion must be conditioned by how the particular aspect relates to God. Guidelines for the discussion, development of the discussion, and conclusions drawn after the discussion must all be with reference to Theism. If the discussion fails this test then the discussion is invalidated. The premises will be flawed, the considerations will be flawed, and most certainly the conclusions will be flawed.

“The fear of YHWH is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7), and “the fear of YHWH is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10; Ps. 111:10; see: Foundations). Note the relationship and the order in these two verses. The point is the relationship of “fear of YHWH” to “knowledge” or “wisdom”; and the order is that the knowledge/wisdom follows or comes after the fear: first the fear and then the knowledge/wisdom. If there is no fear then there is no knowledge. Only where there is fear can there be wisdom.

Acceptance of God’s being and adopting the correct attitude toward Him are pre-requisites to an acquisition of knowledge. Humanism is not the Truth and can never arrive at the Truth. Theism must determine the methodology in the search.

Without the reference point of Theism which must be the guiding axiom in reasoning and reflection there is no knowledge nor wisdom on the part of man, so any discussion is without value. Exclusive of a proper orientation in intellectual or moral discourse comprehension will be illusive and impossible; and conclusions will automatically be defective. The God of the Bible who is the Revealer of Himself and His Word to man must be central (see: Revelation).

To divorce God from any discussion, either trivial or profound, is to doom the discussion to futility and error. Without cognizance of such a situation (the separation of discourse from the God of the Bible), the participants engage in a discussion that is divorced from meaning, and knowledge/wisdom is unattainable. Only the recognition of God in the discussion establishes credibility for the discussion. For ultimately any information gained by non-Theistic discussion has no value, for it leads to additional damnation rather than salvation.

Sin is alien to creation.

Sin is not a part of creation but invaded creation after it was brought into existence. God’s declaration after His week of work was that everything that He had made was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). There was no sin (see: A Very Good Creation).

Sin appeared after creation and after the good that was characteristic of creation. “The evil can therefore only come after the good, can only exist through the good and on the good, and can really consist of nothing but the corruption of the good” (H. Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, 229).

Therefore, sin is not of the substance of creation; rather, it came after creation. Thus God is not the creator of evil, for it did not originate with Him or within Him. Though it is most assuredly consistent with the eternal and holy purposes of God, or it would not be, sin cannot be attributed to God in the sense of God initiating sin (see: The Problem of EVil). For that would make God a sinner, and He is thrice holy.

Sin arose within the lives (desires, inclinations, thoughts, imagination) of the first couple, and through the sin of Adam sin was extended to the race (see: The Principle of Identification). Prior to the Fall in the Garden sin appeared in the mind, the thinking, of Lucifer, and that event must be the entrance of sin into the created order (see: Sin in Heaven). More cannot be affirmed with certainty. That which began in the rational thinking of both angel and man revealed itself immediately by both Lucifer and Adam in acts of revolt against the Sovereignty of God (see: God is Sovereign).

“It is a deprivation of that which man, in order to be truly human, ought to have; and it is at the same time the introduction of a defect or inadequacy which is not proper to men” (H. Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, 229). In other words, man was not created with sin, but apart from sin with no knowledge nor inclination toward evil.

Sin is moral.

It is moral because it is contrary to a Standard, a Law, a Word from God that man is expected to obey. In fact, man is required to observe the Law. There is therefore an obligation on man, a responsibility, a burden. Sin has a moral dimension; it is the violation of an “ought” (see: Violation of the Law).

The concept of judgment is anchored in the moral nature of evil. Because man is accountable to God his rebellion against God by refusing to obey His Word must be judged. By not performing the “ought” man becomes culpable and incurs guilt. Such conduct cannot be exhibited with impunity.

Sin is personal.

For sin to be personal means that sin is committed by a person and involves persons who may be sinned against, either persons on earth or the Persons of heaven, namely, the one eternal and holy God. Sin, in the most fundamental sense,  is against God who is personal. It arose within a person and was directed against another Person—Adam and Eve hid from God when God came walking in the Garden. Likewise, in heaven Lucifer asserted that he would be like God; as a creature his rebellion was against the Creator, a living creature against the living God.

David was deeply aware of the personal nature of his sin, a sin that violated Bathsheba and murdered her husband; but the essence of the sin was a personal attack against God:  “Against You, You only, have I sinned” (Ps. 51:4). In Psalm 51 there is no mention of Uriah or Bathsheba in the contrite confession; rather the confession is addressed to God and is spoken in terms of God. David addresses God and pleads with God; it is person to Person, an “I” against the “You.”

Sin is also an act, that is, it is a something.

It is something that is done, that is committed, either privately in the mind or publicly in the conduct. How can sin be considered a nothing when it is a moral and personal act by the creature against His Creator?

Sin is not the mere absence of good; it is the existence of evil, evil that reveals itself in continuous acts that are evil. Sin is not merely a privation but is a positive inclination to do evil and the resulting deeds that arise from the inclination.

To affirm that sin is an act is to affirm that sin is a deed, an action that is contrary to and inconsistent with the Word of God. It is an action that presumes that the determination of man is superior to the determination of God—it is man becoming his own god and acting as if there is no God. Such actions are real, as real as the Holocaust and other despicable and heinous deeds of sinful men.

Sin is not a mere abstract concept that is utilized to give explanation to that which is perceived to be unacceptable to society; sin is not a logical deduction. It is not an hypothesis,  nor a talking point. Sin is a deed, an act against God.

Because it is an act against God it will be punished by an act of God. Sin is an act in time that will be judged and punished by an act in eternity.

Sin is both a state and an act.

Man is sinful and commits sinful acts. Sin, therefore, is inward and outward; initially, it is an inward disposition of rebellion that manifests itself in an outward display of evil. Both the inner musings and the external deeds are evil. And this private and public display of evil are foreign to the original creation of God.

Neither the state nor the acts can stand alone, meaning that where there is the one dimension there is the accompanying dimension. Where there is the condition there is the conduct. There is such unity between the two that there can be no separation between the two—the acts originate in and are conditioned by the state (see: Sinful State and Sinful Acts). And for both the state and the acts man is guilty (see: Guilt).

Sin is absolute.

It is either present or it is not present; there are no degrees, whereby one slowly moves from non-sin to sin. One is either a sinner or not a sinner; one either is in a state of sin or in a state without sin; one is either continually committing sins or one is sinless. There is no gradual or semi-sinful thinking and action; thinking and conduct are either one or the other. There is no middle ground. And the Christian Faith teaches that as a consequent of Adam’s fall in Eden (see: Adam’s Rebellion and By One Man) all people are sinful people and, therefore, do sinful deeds (see: Universality of Sin). For the human race sin is absolute.

Sin will be defeated.

Sin does not determine the future of creation. Victory does not belong to evil but to the Lord, who is Sovereign over evil and who will make all things new (Rev. 21:5; see: All Things New).  

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