Thus the Bible states man's failure and unfitness before God. Every accountable person finds himself under sin's condemnation. It behooves every
thinking person to pause and ask, "What is sin?" and "How can I be made free from sin's terrible punishment?"
To many people, sin is nothing more than a violation of current social standards. They think of it as something "naughty" and involving a moral lapse
of some kind or another. They may even call sin a "disease," implying that the individual is not responsible for what he does. Such an interpretation
of sin is altogether too shallow. I John 3:4 says, "whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."
The revision says, "sin is lawlessness." Sin, then, is rebellion against God. Man says in effect, "God, you don't know what you are talking about."
This is what makes sin so serious: we are not flaunting our parents, or society, but our Creator and God.
Sin may be committed in many ways; by our failures as well as our deeds. The Bible teaches that it is just as sinful to refuse to obey the commands of Christ
as to commit a grave act such as murder or drunkenness. Either will cause man to go to hell. Consider 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 and I Corinthians 6:9, 10.
We oftentimes think that morality is more important than obedience to God's religious commands. We think it is worse to do something wrong than to fail to do
something right. All such thinking is man's frail viewpoint. Since the Bible teaches that omission is as sinful as commission and that irreligiousness
will cause one to be lost as well as immorality, we must recognize this as being the true nature of sin.
Consider the first sin: Our parents, Adam and Eve, were placed in a beautiful garden surrounded by every good thing. God said, "every tree of the garden thou
mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"
(Genesis 2:17, 18). Then, Satan deceived the woman and said, "Ye shall not surely die." She believed the devil rather than God, ate the fruit, then gave to
Adam and he ate also. Thus sin entered into the world. Though no moral transgression had taken place, Man had nevertheless disobeyed his Maker. He had arrayed
his human wisdom and will against God's. All that God commanded had been right and good, but man thought otherwise. This was sin! This was lawlessness!
The results of Adam's sin should be noted at this time. They are listed in Genesis 3.
List here the results of Adam and Eve's transgression (as found in Genesis 3).
One way to understand the exceeding sinfulness of sin is to recognize God's punishment of it.
Sin separates man from sinless God. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not Shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your
iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins, have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1, 2). This is perfectly
illustrated in the case of Adam and Eve: while in the garden, God walked and talked with them; but after their transgression they were driven out and away
from this intimate relationship with the Father. So it is with man today; sin deprives him of all the blessings of fellowship with God.
"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil" (I Peter 3:12).
Since it is true that sin separates man from God in this life, it must follow that if man will not turn from sin he shall be eternally separated
from God in the life to come. This is precisely what the Bible teaches in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. Those who know not God and obey not the gospel
"shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." The Bible teaches that every person will go
either to heaven (I Peter 1:4), or to hell (Matthew 10:28). If we are not with God in heaven, we will surely be with Satan in hell. To the wicked, Christ
shall say, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). "And these shall go away into everlasting
punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" - vs. 46. Here then is much of the terror of hell: the sinner shall be completely removed from the presence
of God and His blessed influence. This world is bad enough, but suppose that all of God's blessings and goodness were suddenly taken away - No righteousness,
integrity or morality - only evil continually - no hope, help or grace. And yet, hell will be filled with people who have freely chosen to disobey the
commands and directions of a gracious Father. Jesus said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to
destruction, and many there be which go in thereat" (Matthew 7:13).
Not only must man pay a penalty for sin in the next life, but sin also causes him to suffer in this one. The devil, of course, tries to hide this fact and
presents sin as only harmless pleasure. Beer and liquor are advertised most attractively, magazine pictures appeal to women to wear scanty clothing
"to catch that man," illicit sex in books and on the screen is portrayed as being "great fun," gambling in every form is "exciting," drugs will take you
"out of this world," and behind it all is the subtle contention that "everyone is doing it" and "a little bit won't hurt you." Satan is very clever indeed!
No, sin is not pretty. Let the sinner reflect soberly upon his life and the judgment to come and he will be filled with anguish, terror, and foreboding.
These are the facts of sin.
It should be abundantly clear by now that sin is personal in its nature. It is something I do, or fail to do. No one can commit sin for me.
It seems strange that some should teach differently, but they do. Many denominations teach that sin is inherited, i.e. that an infant is born
with the guilt of Adam's sin upon him. Here is an example of what they say:
There are a number of Bible reasons why this doctrine of inherited sin is false. Let us note them.
Who can deliver man from his terrible slavery to sin? One thing is abundantly clear: man cannot deliver himself. "O Lord, I know that the way of man is
not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). Isaiah uses the figure of helpless sheep to picture sinful mankind
as he remarks, "all we like sheep have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6). As sheep we cannot find the way back to the fold of safety, but are subject to all the
perils of the wilds. We are in danger of being devoured by our ravenous Enemy. We need a Shepherd to lead us aright. Christ is that good Shepherd who was
willing to give His life for his sheep (John 10:11).
Other figures are used in the New Testament to tell us of Christ's mission. John said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
He is pictured as a physician who has come to heal man of all his soul's diseases (Matthew 9:12). He said, "For the son of man is come to seek and to save that
which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Even his name signified his mission: "thou shalt call his name Jesus (Savior), for he shall save his people from their sins."
When John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the World," he was revealing the very heart of God's plan for saving man.
Almost from the very beginning God has commanded sacrifice. Abel's acceptable offering consisted of "the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof" (Genesis 4).
The Passover sacrifice was an unblemished lamb, a first-year male. Sacrifices, in the Old Testament era, were made daily (Hebrews 7:27). The inspired writer says,
"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).
Christ was God's final sacrifice for sin. The sinless Son of God was to offer himself once, and the effectiveness of this action would be sufficient to take away
the sins of the whole world, for all time to come (Hebrews 10: 12-14). For this cause it was necessary that Christ suffer on the cross. Without His sacrificial
death there could be no forgiveness. What a price to be paid!
Nor must we overlook the fact that Christ suffered in our stead. He died for us; He the sinless - we the sinners. Every abuse: the mockery, spitting, slapping,
whipping, the burden of the cross, the cruel biting nails into quivering flesh, the thirst, the anguish, the pain - all of this was borne on our behalf. Here is
the true picture of sin! Sin was destroying mankind. God, hating sin so much and loving man so dearly, offered up His own willing Son. How we should love Christ
and hate sin! We should gladly obey all that our Savior commands us to do, lest it be said that for us He died in vain.
In closing, let us note Hebrews 5:8, 9, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the
author of eternal salvation unto all that obey him." In our next lesson we will consider the question, "What must I do to be saved?"
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