The facts of sin are greatly misunderstood. In the minds of many grosser sins only are in view. But the Scriptures show that sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the laws of God. Sin is any failure to attain God's will and purpose in our lives. Sin is sinful because it is different from what God is, and God is holy because holiness is infinitely desirable. Sin is always against God, therefore to sin is to be unlike God and to displease Him.
It is generally thought that sin originated in the Garden of Eden. However, the Scriptures indicate that it began in the rebellion of Satan long before the advent of man (Isa. 14:12-17; Ezek. 28:12-19).
But, sin entered the human race in the one terrible sin of Adam when he chose to believe the serpent's lie in opposition to the truth of God (Gen. 3). The only remedy is God's provision in the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; Ezek. 18:4).
The scriptural view of sin is a threefold division. There is first sin which is imputed or reckoned over to man. It is taught that the entire human race is sinful because Adam, acting as the federal or representative head of the race, sinned in the beginning. The effect is death, not only to Adam, but to every member of the race (Rom. 5:12-21).
There is also the nature which is sinful. As Adam fell and became a sinful being, so his posterity were begotten in this manner. Therefore every child of Adam is born with an Adamic nature and always prone to sin (Gal. 5:16-17; Gen. 4:8).
In addition there are personal sins. As the sin nature is the root, so anything which fails to conform to the character of God is the fruit. These are seen to be not only transgressions against God's will and the rights of fellow men, but a failure to do and be that which He rightfully expects of us. The New Testament lists well over a hundred different individual sins, but also sets forth the principles: transgression of God's purposes and failure to meet His expectations (Gal. 5:17-21; James 4:17; I Cor. 10:31; Rom. 14:23).
Sin is universal. The Bible emphatically declares that no one is righteous (Rom. 3:10-12). With one grand exception (I Pet. 2:21-22) the entire human race stands guilty before God and helpless in their sin (Eph. 2:1).
Before the cross the divine method of dealing with sin was said to be by atonement or covering. Under the law the guilty sinner brought a sacrifice and blood was shed. This indicated an acknowledgment on the part of the offerer of the guilt and just penalty of death (Lev. 1:4).
However, it is clearly stated that the blood of animals could in no way take away sin (Heb. 10:4). But by symbolizing the shed blood of the Son of God who was to come, the sacrifices served to temporarily cover the transgression until it should be fully paid at the cross (Rom. 3:25).
Since the death of Christ, the divine method of dealing with sin has been simply to look back to the cross of Christ where His precious, efficacious blood was shed. God is therefore declared to be both just, and the Justifier of all those who believe wholeheartedly in Christ (Rom. 3:26).
The complete forgiveness of the sinner is accomplished the instant a sinner trusts the Saviour. This is an important part of his salvation. His sins are said to be remembered no more, and are placed as far away from him as east is removed from west (Ps. 103:12; Jer. 31:34; Isa. 38:17).
Sin is always sin whether committed by the sinner or saint. But while the sinner's sin brings death, the sins of the believer in Christ have all been atoned for. It is clearly stated that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).
Yet while the Christian cannot lose his perfect standing in Christ he can and does lose both peace and happiness if he allows sin to hold sway in his life. The divine remedy is that the believer shall "confess" his sin in the ears of his heavenly Father and know the joy of pardon and cleansing (I John 1:9).
If the Christian fails to do this, he must come under the chastening rod of a faithful Father in order to bring him to confession (I Cor. 11:31-32).
Copied for WholesomeWords.org from Believer's First Bible Course by William W. Orr. Wheaton, Ill.: Scripture Press, 1956.