SIN VS MAN: A Biblical Exposition
By Dr. Surya Kumar Daimari
THE UNIVERSALITY OF SIN:
It may be difficult to define SIN in just few words. But we can imagine the universality of sin and its terribility in human life through our own experience.
“All the sorrow, all the bitterness, all the violence, tragedy, heartache and shame of
man’s history are summed up in that one little word, “SIN”. IT isn’t a popular word,
it certainly isn’t a fashionable word any more but it’s terribly true!” Says Billy Graham.1#
These are all true in our human lives. The other way of saying is that it is because of SIN that we suffer and experience these things in our day today life.
Why do we suffer?
Why do we suffer sickness?
Why do we not have the perfect happiness despite our money, wealth?
Why violence are increasing day by day?
Why do people take the means of violence for peace?
Why are human beings more prone to commiting evil rather than good?
Why does there seem to be want of love, peace, tolerance, sympathy, understanding in our society?
The Bible teaches about the total depravity of man. The total depravity refers to the corruption or pollution of human nature, i.e., the pervasiveness of evil in man.
Gen 6:5 declares the state of man in these words,
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Gen 8:21 also says,
“For the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
This is true of all times. Why did Cain murder Abel?
The Bible answers,
“Because his own actions were evil.” IJohn 3:12. The same verse also says,
He “belonged to the evil”.
Jude 12 speaks of “the way of Cain” which has become the way of the world today. In other words, “the way of the world is the way of Cain.” When we look around the world what do we see? Violence! Hatred! Enmity! Wars! Ruthless killing! Selfishness! Adultery! Wickedness!
These are obviously the outward expression of the inwardness of man’s state, i.e., SIN. Yes, Cain had murdered Abel, because his heart was evil. The present state of man is obviously the result of one dreadful thing, i.e., SIN.
ORIGIN OF SIN:
According to the Bible, sin originated with Satan in his rebellion against God when in his pride he sought to make himself like the Most High. Isaiah 14:12-14 cf Timothy 3:6
In human experience, sin originated with Adam when he disobeyed the commandment of God and broke his commandment by eating the forbidden fruit heeding the voice of Satan. Gen. 3:1-6
The consequence was really very great and dreadful. As a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin,
(1)They—eventually died physically. For God had said, “the day you will eat, you will surely die—for dust, you are, and to dust you will return” Gen. 3:19
(2)They also experienced spiritual death, ie.. they were alienated from God and His fellowship. They were banished from the garden of Eden, Gen. 3:23 also in Rom 6:23, Rev. 20:15
(3)Human suffering, sorrow became integral part of human life. Gen. 3:16, 17
(4)Adam’s sin was imputed to the whole human race.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all man because all sinned-------death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.” Rom. 5:12-13 (NIV)
“The one to come” refers to Jesus Christ who did no sin yet had to suffer death. IPet. 2:22
(5)By nature, the human being become sinful. Anger, last, hatred----became part of our life.
(6)The moral life was directly affected.
(7)It is because of Adam’s sin that human being became more prone to committing sin.
3. THE TERMINOLOGY:
(i) Heb ‘ra’ means ‘bad’, ‘evil’ Gen.28:17
(ii) Heb ‘rash’ means ‘wickedness’ Ex.2:13
(iii) Heb ‘asham’ means ‘guilt’ Gen.26:10
(iv) Heb ‘hata’ means to lose the path or the mark. Ex.20:;Judge 20:16; Job. 5:24
(v) Heb ‘awon’ means ‘iniquity’. It gives the meaning of crookedness, of twisting away intentionally from God’s path.
(vi) Heb ‘shagag’ means ‘err’, Is.28:7
(vii) Heb ‘taa’ means ‘wander’ away, Ez48:1
(viii) Heb ‘pasha’ means ‘rebel’, II Kings 3:5
SIN IN GREEK:
(i) Hamartia— is the most inclusive word in Greek for sin. It means a departure from the way of righteousness.
(ii) Kakos— means bad, moral evil, occasionally used to denote physical evil, Rom13:3
(iii) Ponerous— means evil, Mat5:45
(iv) Asebes-- godless—opposite to pious (eusebes), Rom1:18; I Tim1:9
(v) Enochos— guilty worthy of death, James2:10; Mat26:66
(vi) Adikia— unrighteousness, I Cor6:9
(vii) Anamos— lawlessness, I Tim1:9, translated as iniquity.
(viii) Parabates— transgressor, James2:9,11. It refers to the transgressor of the Mosaic Law.
(ix) Agnoeo— to be ignorant, Rom1:13
(x) Plana— to go astray, I Pet2:25
(xi) Paraptoma— a fault, Gal6:1. It refers to a deliberate trespass of truth.
(xii) Hypcrites— hypocrite, I Tim4:2
(xiii) Parapipto— to fall away, Heb6:6. It refers to a deliberate turning away from truth.
When we put together all these words , we will have a complete view of the word, ‘SIN’—
Evil, bad, wickedness, guilt, to lose the path or miss the mark, iniquity—twisting away from God’s path intentionally, to err, wander away, rebel, rebellion or transgression, departure from the way of righteousness, moral evil, physical evil (e.g. Adultery), godlessness, guilty worthy of death, unrighteousness, lawlessness, transgress of the law, to be ignorant of, to go astray, fault— a deliberate trespass, hypocrite— hypocrisy, to fall away— a deliberate turning away from the truth (apostasy).
‘SIN’--- has been well defined in biblical phrases and languages—
1. All unrighteousness is sin. I Jn 5:17
2. Transgression of the law is sin. I Jn 3:4
3. What is not of faith is sin. Rom 14:23
4. Not doing good when one knows to do good is sin. Jn 4:17
5. What separates man from God is sin. Is 59:2
6. Multitude of words is sin. Prov 10:19
7. Foolish thought is sin. Prov 24:9
8. Despising the neighbor is sin. Pro 14:21
9. Lust becomes sin when it is conceived. Ja 1:15
10. Departure from the way of God’s righteousness is sin. I Cor 6:13
All these words or phrases mean more or less the same thing ,i.e., disobedience to God and His law. Sin is a deliberate crime against God knowingly hitting the wrong mark contrary to God’s will. We can sum up by defining sin in this way,---
“ All that are contrary to or any want of conformity with God’s Law, Character, Standard or Will is ‘SIN’. “
We have this contradiction in Gal 5:19—21 and 5:22.
Fruits of the Spirit/God’s law
Works of the flesh/sin
4. SIN AND SATAN:
It is the evil, i.e. sin that instigates the man to perform the works of the flesh, i.e. the works of the Satan. So when we commit a certain sin, it means that we have become slave to sin. Becoming slave to sin, it means that we become slave to Satan himself. Because, sin is satanic. Satan is a deceptive, enticing, lying, tormenting and destructive spirit. Satan is the arch enemy of God and originator of sin. He is always trying to deceive and destroy God’s people.
“Be sover, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” I Pet 5:8
Satan is obviously a personal being and a spiritual being who deceived Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and who is able to deceive man even today. There are several mentions of ‘an evil spirit’ in the Old Testament. In the book of I Samuel there is the mention of an evil spirit that troubled Saul and instigated him to murder David with his javelin.
“And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house.
-------There was a javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the way with it-----“ I Sam 18:10
“But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” I Sam 16:14 also see in I Sam 16:16,23; 19:9; Hos 4:12; 5:4
cf I Jn 5:18 ‘evil one’ NIV, ‘wicked one’ KJV
I King 22:19-25 speaks of a lying spirit.
Jesus also called Satan a liar and the Father of it.
“Ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer fro the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and father of it.” Jn 8:44
5. THE STATE OF MAN:
The Bible has given a clean view of the state of man---the helpless condition of man.
(i) Man is sinful from his birth from the very moment of his conception.
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
(ii) “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” Rom 3:23
(iii) “All our righteousness deeds are like filthy rags in sight of God” Is 64:6
(iv) “For the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Gen 8:21
(v) Paul in the Book of Romans speaks of a law, i.e., a law of sin.
“I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me, for I delight in the law of God after the inward man. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Rom 7:21-24 (NIV)
(vi) “….Every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” Deut 24:16
(vii) “The wages of sin is death.” Rom 6:23
(viii) “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ez 18:4
(ix) “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” Ps 49:7
(x) “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath.” Zeph 1:28
(xi) Jesus said, “No one go to the Father , but by me.” Jn 14:6
(xii) “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats take away sins.” Heb 10:4
(xiii) “Salvation is not of ourselves , ----not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8,9
(xiv) “Therefore by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight……” Rom 3:20
Jesus teaches us that sin originates in our inmost heart. We first break the law of God in our inmost heart. Jesus teaches the distinction between the law of Moses and His teachings in His famous sermon on the mount. Few examples are cited below:
1. Mt 5:21,
Moses: Do not murder-
Jesus: But I tell you that any one who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.
2. Mt 5:27,
Moses: Do not commit adultery.
Jesus : But I tell you that anyone who looks at woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
3. Mt 5:31,
Moses : Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.
Jesus : But I tell you that anyone who divorce his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become a adulteress, anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
4. Mt. 5:38,
Moses : Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.
Jesus : But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
5. Mt. 5:43,
Moses : Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.
Jesus : But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
I Jn 3:15 says, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”
There is power in sin. It is also called an evil spirit in I Jn 5:18, because, it is the spirit of Satan. Man has ever been struggling with this power of sin since the beginning. We cannot however resist sin with our own might. Nations are trying for “Peace Treaty” . But they cannot resist wars against nations. There is always the threat of nuclear bomb, destructive missile, chemical weapons and an imminent destruction. Indeed man has become slave to sin and Satan, the author of SIN.
6. REMISSION OF SIN:
(1) How can we get rid of so called the power of sin?
(2) How can we get rid of the sufferings, sickness, disease, wrath, intolerance, enmity, violence, poverty, evil desires----etc?
(3) How can we get rid of the eternal punishment of sin, i.e., the second death-----the eternal separation from God?
(4) How are our sins forgiven?
(5) How are we justified? Made righteous?
(6) How can we get Salvation?
These are the questions that the finite human mind is ever trying to get an answer. Men have adopted different means to achieve this Salvation. Giving of sacrifices to gods and goddesses since the day of Adam has become one of the greatest means to that end. Animal sacrifice seems to have been the most predominant form of worship prevalent in the history of humanity all throughout the ages. Wherever explorers go, they have seen it that wherever there is any conception of God and remission of sin, man makes sacrifices in some form or the other. On the other hand, some have tried to achieve “Nirbana”—salvation by means of good works, good life, and some have adopted a secluded life, while many have been playing havoc with sin. It is superbly surprising that the idea of remission of sin has been clearly indicated in the ‘Mercy Seat’ of the ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament Sanctuary. It would be good to see what’s the wonder of mercy seat.
7.THE WONDER OF MERCY SEAT: God’s Divine Justice
The ark of the covenant had a golden lid called the mercy seat or covering. The mercy seat is the symbol of the divine presence of God. God said to Moses,
“There I will meet thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two Cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony.” Ex. 25:22
Moses had fulfilled the divine plan as instructed by God Himself. Later, in Num. 7:89, we see that,
“He heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony from between the two Cherubim.”
The two Cherubim represent the judgment of God. The Cherubim are revealed by Ezekiel in chapter 1:5-10. They reveal four kinds of living creatures, each having four different faces. They are-the face of a man, lion, ox and eagle.
Man- the face of a man speaks of mind, reason, affections and all the characters that encompass a human being.
Lion-The Lion symbolizes strength, fierce and majesty, the royalist of animals. Prov 30:30; 20:2
Ox- The Ox is an animal who patiently labors for his owner. He is strong, able to bear a burden who knows its owner. Prov 14:4; Ps 144:14; Is 1:13
Eagle- the Eagle is recognized as a divine bird that fly above the storms, a strong, swift and powerful bird, never becoming weary. Prov 30:18:19; Is 40:31; Ex 19:4; Ez 17:3
According to the writings of the ancient sages, the hand of man represents the hand of God which is extended beneath the wings of the Cherubim and shows how God is willing to bid the people that He may bring them near beneath His wings and receive penitents from the power of judgment. This also shows how the Holy One, looks down all the people of the world, hoping that they will repent and He is willing to bring them near beneath His wings. Thus, the Cherubim represent the mercy of God and shows that our God is a benevolent God who forgives our sins.
It was between these Cherubim that the “shekinah Glory” of God rested (Ex 25:22). It is the living blood that carries all the burdens and sins of the sinner to the mercy seat. This shows the attitude of God toward a sinner. The High Priest brought two goats inside the tabernacle. One of the goats was known as the goat for Azazel and the other as the Lord’s goat. Both goats were called an atonement. Now the High Priest did two things—
(1) The High Priest laid his hands upon the goat for Azazel and confessed over it all the sins of the people after which it was sent into the uninhabited wilderness bearing the iniquity of the nation of Israel. The idea is that sins have been removed altogether from the presence of Israel.
(2) The Lord’s goat was slain and the blood of the lamb sprinkled sevenfold upon the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. The blood was also placed or applied on the horns of the altar of sacrifice.
The Hebrew word for ‘mercy seat’ is ‘kapporeth’. “Kaphor” means to cover and in the Old Testament, it is atonement. So the mercy seat is the place of atonement (Heb 9:5). The word “Kaphor” also means to appease, forgive, purge etc. The Hebrew word for “atonement” is “kawfar” , means to cover, conceal. The Greek word “Katalagay” means exchange, reconciliation. As applied to sin the sense is covered, saved from punishment, ransomed, propitiation made for sin. The word “Propitiation” is a New Testament word that reaches back to the Old Testament for its fullest meaning. “Hilasterion” used in LXX and in Heb. 9:5 is translated as “Mercy seat”. In Lk.18:13, merciful is “Hilaskomai” meaning- God be propitiation to me. Now we come to understand why the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the slain lamb upon the mercy seat, before the veil and applied the blood upon the horns of the altar. When he sprinkled the blood upon the mercy seat and applied it upon the horns of the altar it evidently meant that God had covered the sins of the people of Israel. When the High Priest sent the goat for Azazel to the wilderness uninhabited, it means that the sins of Israel are completely removed from the land of Israel. This shows that God is exceedingly gracious and merciful. The Psalmist says,
“He hath not dealth with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so hath he removed our transgressions from us”. Ps. 103:10-12
When God forgives our sins, He covers, propitiates and also removes our sins.
Isaiah says in 1:18,
“Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
“I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
And this is forgiveness. When God forgives our sins, He also forgets our sins.
There is an interesting passage in the Old Testament which describes God’s dealings with Israel. Balaam, the young prophet was asked by Balak , the king of Moab, to curse the children of Israel. But Balaam met the Lord. And the Lord put words in his mouth. The thing God told Balaam to say was this, “He hath not behold iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel.” Num. 23:21. How wonderful! How often the children of Israel had sinned against God in the wilderness! How often they grieved the Lord by breaking His commandments! But God says, “No iniquity”. How can it be possible on God’s part? Yes, it is possible because, our God is a God “full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and plenteous in mercy and truth.” Ps. 86:15
The symbolical representation of the mercy seat:
The doctrine of forgiveness anticipated on the mercy seat in the Old Testament Sanctuary finds its fullest revelation on the cross of Calvary in the New Testament. When Christ died on the cross, it means that the guilt of a person has been transferred to Christ and the blood of Christ shields the sinner from receiving the full measure of his guilt. So the final atonement of sin is made possible only through the blood of Christ which is only expiatory and satisfactory to God.
Thus the cross becomes the mercy seat in the New Testament.
“In the OT the place where the holy God met sinful man was at the mercy seat where the blood was sprinkled. In the NT the cross becomes the place where God would meet man through the blood of Christ. Thus John could say that Christ is propitiation, the satisfaction, for the sins of believers and also for the sins of unbelievers.” (IJohn 2:2) Says Lightner. 2#
‘Mercy seat’ is a symbol of God’s divine forgiveness, His divine mercy and His divine justice. The cross, as the mercy seat in the New Testament manifests the true meaning of forgiveness. There are three words in regards to forgiveness in original Greeks. They are—
(1) aphiem and aphesis, the meaning of which is “to send away” and “remission”. The idea is found in Mt 6:12, 14-15; 9:2,5-6
(2) Charizomai—meaning “to be gracious” LK 7:43, Eph 4:32; Col 2:13; 3:13
(3) Apoluo—meaning “to loose away” LK 6:37
Forgiveness as revealed in the New Testament covers the whole program of God for the fallen man. It is the program of salvation manifested in the real history in the person of Jesus Christ. When Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven”, He meant that
(1) All our sins or guilt of sin , past, present and future are forgiven. Sins covered and removed altogether.
(2) We are saved from the penalty of sin, the eternal death i.e., the eternal separation from God
(3) We are sanctified, made holy.
(4) We are made righteous.
(5) We have excess toward God, the Heavenly Father.
(6) We have become the children of God.
(7) Our fellowship with God has been restored. We are reconciled to God.
And it is through the blood of Jesus Christ that made this all possible. It is interesting to observe the mode of forgiveness in the Old Testament Sanctuary. The High Priest laid his hands upon the goat for Azazel and confessed over it all the sins of the people after which it was sent into the uninhabited wilderness bearing the iniquity of the nation of Israel. Confession involves repentance. Confession and repentance were the preliminary requisite or the basic foundation to merit God’s forgiveness for the Israelite. The High Priest represented the nation Israel. When he sinned, whole Israel sinned, when he confessed, he confessed on behalf of the whole Israel. The covering of mercy seat with the blood of the Lamb meant that the sins of the Israelite were covered with the blood. It means that God takes the punishment for sin upon Himself. It means that the guilt of sin has been transferred to God Himself and they need not bear the punishment by themselves. It means that their sins are forgiven. This is what exactly Jesus Christ did on the cross of Calvary sacrificing Himself for us. This is what exactly happens when a sinner believes in the blood of Jesus confessing his sins. Like an Israelite, forgiveness demands confession of sins and repentance as a prerequisite to merit the favor. It is only Jesus who can give us real joy, peace , love, forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus Himself has said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Jn 15:11; He also said, “ I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, no one can snatch them away out of my hand.” Jn 10:28
Dear reader, do you believe Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior for forgiveness of your sin , become a child of God and live a joyful life?
1.# Billy Graham, “Peace with God”, (P-40)
Gospel Literature Service, Bombay.
2#Robert P Lightner
In Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, P 1416
Moody Press, Chicago.