A DEFINITION OF SIN

The next couple of posts will focus on sin, what it is and its effect on Creation. These posts will attempt to integrate and synthesize a wealth of information into a smaller 700 word article. Books upon book have been written on sin and its adverse impact on a beautiful world. Countless volumes could be written on it and have been. Sin affects everything. It changed the world and us as creatures. We deal with its affects daily. Each day there is something in our lives that is vying for the throne of our hearts. There is sin that has lingered and festered in our lives for years. It has reminded us of our brokenness. It is a reminder of our almost constant rebellion against God.

Sin is the opposite of our holy and perfect God. This post will briefly introduce our topic and provide a working definition. The next post will show sins effect on Creation and how we respond or recognize our own sin and the awesome work of Christ in His perfection. There is much to be said on this topic, but little space and little time.


 

INTRODUCTION

Sin is classically defined as “missing the mark” (Jdg 20:16; Rom 2:12), but is also described as impiety, godliness (Rom 1:18), unrighteousness (John 1:9), lawlessness (John 3:4), transgression (Rom 4:15), or rebellious disobedience (Heb 4:11).[1] Satan, the originator of sin, by God’s permission, led our first parents into sin, thereby completing their moral fall and subjecting them and all future generations to his power (Rom 5:12-14).[2] Humanity’s acts of rebellion against the holy nature of God constitutes sin, and its effects are seen in every aspect of human life.

A Definition of Sin

Sin is something that had a beginning in time, and is an unnatural, ungodly development in human history.[3] Sin is defined as anything or all that lacks conformity to the moral character of God (Rom 2:12), either in act, disposition, or state (Acts 8:22).[4] The holy character of God is the final and only standard by which moral values may be accurately judged (1 Pet 1:15-16).[5] The fundamental character of sinfulness is drawn from the fact that it is unlike God.[6] The essential nature of sin is opposition to God and an exaltation of self. Inherited corruption and a depravity of nature, extend to all the parts of the soul, making us obnoxious to God, which in turn produces works of the flesh.[7] Sin is the corruption at the root of our being or what an individual is by birth; particular sins are the acts or fruit of the root of sin, not discrete acts of evil independent of each other.[8] Evil and sin represent different ideas. Sin is a corruption of a thing at a specific instance, while evil is a concept. Evil refers to something conceivable as the opposite of good, while sin is solid and actively opposed to the character of God.[9]

Sin is primarily divided into three main aspects: original, personal, and the imputation. Original sin, also called inherited sin or sin nature, is a bent or brokenness of constitution inherited from Adam, and means we do not measure up to the character of God. Personal sin is when an individual chooses to act in a way that is not aligned to the character and nature of God. The final aspect is the imputation of sin which is the guilt that humans receive or the reckoning to someone or something that is antecedently theirs.


 

[1] Nathan Holsteen, “Session 20: Definition and Nature of Sin,” unpublished class notes for ST 103 (Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring Semester, 2015), 80.

[2] Dallas Theological Seminary, “Full Doctrinal Statement, Article III, Angels, Fallen and Unfallen,” internet, 2015, accessed April 26, 2015, http://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinalstatement/.

[3] Charles Sherlock, “The Doctrine of Humanity,” (Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press, 1996), 64.

[4] A.H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1907), 549. See also Holsteen, “Session 20: Definition and Nature of Sin,” 81.

[5] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1993), 227.

[6] Ibid

[7] John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge, (London: Bonham Norton, 1599), 210, accessed April 26, 2015, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.html

[8] Sherlock, “The Doctrine of Humanity,” 65, 233. See also Chafer, Systematic Theology, 349.

[9] Chafer, Systematic Theology,228

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One thought on “A DEFINITION OF SIN

  1. Pingback: Sin’s Effect on Creation | Seeking Our God

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