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The Purpose of God Concerning Sin

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What is Sin?

In order to understand the purpose of God concerning sin, we must first have a grasp of the concept of sin—or simply, what is sin? If you were to ask diverse people of varying ages and backgrounds, you would of course get many different answers to this question. What their response would be, would depend upon their philosophical viewpoint, religious training, and of course, their ability to comprehend even the question, much less the answer.

To the atheist or humanist there is no such thing as sin, but only human faults or diseases that cause people to do what might be considered as acts against society. They would not accept any answer that precludes the existence of God, or has anything to do with the commandments and demands of a god or higher power; because to them, man is god, deciding for himself what is proper to do in different situations. Their viewpoint is called situational ethics; and part of their philosophy is that nothing we do is wrong, as long as we don’t infringe upon someone else’s space. Sin, to them, is a misnomer, bringing only unnecessary guilt and fear into people’s minds—which, they say, is unproductive and unnecessary.

However, to those who hold some religious values or beliefs, sin is a very obvious reality of life. To them, sin might be breaking the Ten Commandments, or acting in a way that is contrary to the principles and will of God. But of these which have such a god-consciousness, there is a very great division concerning what actions might be called sin. Some people are very fundamental or pharasitical; and some are very liberal in their views of what is right and wrong. Added to these Judeo-Christian views of sin, are all the concepts of the eastern religions, and the thousands of cults who attach their own meaning to what is good and what is evil.

The last group we might ask is those of young children—whose minds would have difficulty formulating any deep answers to our question. In my own work with children, and in presenting to them this question, I most often get the following answers: ‘Sin is doing something bad’; ‘Sin is hurting someone’; ‘Sin is being mean.’  Even these young minds know, that when they, or someone else does something hurtful to others, that it is somehow wrong, without knowing why.

Now, if we had no source of truth upon which to base our answer to this and other philosophical questions, we might well resign ourselves to coming to our own conclusions; and for those who reject any such source—that is their only option. However, for those who believe in a Divine Creator, who established laws both in the natural as well as the spiritual realm, we believe that there are certain absolutes; and that we can come to a satisfying answer to the questions concerning sin, and all the important issues of life. Howbeit, we must have more than just a belief in such a being—we must possess some revelation from Him concerning what these absolutes are. Acknowledging this dilemma, this becomes the crux of the issue which many people face.

James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Most people, in every corner of the world, believe in some kind of god; and almost everyone has their own ideas about how and what their god has revealed: the Moslems have their Mohammed and the Quran; the Hindus have their Rishis and the Vedas; Buddhists have their Seers and Yoga; and we could go on and on mentioning the thousands of various beliefs concerning other gods and their means of revelation. Now, while most religious philosophies do teach some concept about good and evil, punishment and reward, heaven and perdition, we will not attempt to present the multiplicity of viewpoints. That is because, first of all, we do not pretend to be an expert on what all of these systems of belief teach; second, we have already experienced the reality of coming to know the truth of God through Jesus Christ; third, we have already had confirmed to us that the Bible is the revealed truth of God; and fourth, we believe the Bible when it says that there is only one God, one way to heaven, and one source of truth.

1 Cor 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh t unto the Father, but by me.

From the Christian perspective therefore, there is only one God—Jehovah; only one who was sent from God to show us the truth—Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh; and one present source of truth—the written Word of God, or the Bible. It is, therefore, to this source that we look for our answers, and from which we may discover all the truths about sin, even the very purpose of God in allowing sin to enter His creation.

Isa 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

The simplest and most understandable definition for sin is found in the book of I John, where the Apostle John clearly states that “sin is the transgression of the law.” However, two things are necessary to understand even this basic explanation of sin. The first is—what does it mean to transgress; and the second is—what law is this referring to? Both the Hebrew and Greek words for transgression carries with them the meaning of crossing over a line or boundary. It is similar to the idea of our modern day trespass laws, where someone puts up a sign forbidding others from crossing over his property line, under penalty of law. Even so, God has set up certain absolutes or boundaries in His creation called the natural and spiritual laws. When His creatures cross over these boundaries they are guilty of transgressing.

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

The natural laws are quite easy to comprehend, because our physical lives are controlled by them everyday. Man has used his ability to discover and mentally reason out what these laws are; and has even made written formulas to explain them and to use them for his own benefit. We understand, or are aware of, the laws of physics: gravity, electricity, combustion, inertia, aerodynamics, etc. Which laws have allowed us to make and use all of the marvelous inventions we enjoy today. Our understanding of the natural laws which control the weather, cause plants to grow, promote animal husbandry, etc, have allowed us to produce our food in abundance. Practicing nutritional, medicinal, and sanitary laws helps keep us strong and healthy, and give us longer lives. All of these laws, which God established, have to do with the natural world in which we live, and of which we are a part.

Job 38:33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

Jer 31:35 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:
36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

Jer 33:25 Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth;

Deut 5:33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

Even so the spiritual laws governing God’s creation are just as much a part of our everyday life, although some people deny their existence, and others live oblivious to their existence. Nevertheless, just as we have learned not to transgress the natural laws for our own well being—like jumping off a ten story building, or grabbing hold of a high power electrical line; likewise transgressing these spiritual laws brings equally disastrous results into our lives. While disregarding the natural laws might be called foolishness, disobeying these spiritual laws is called sin; and sin brings us not only grief in this present world, but has eternal consequences as well. So then, one might ask, ‘If these spiritual laws are so important, how do I know what they are, that I might be sure to obey them in my life?’  However, the answer to this question is not as simple as some people make it out to be.

Lev 4:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them:

Eze 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Many there are who believe that these spiritual laws are the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses on the Mount Sinai. It is also believed by some, that by keeping these laws we can expect God’s blessings in this life and secure a hope for that life which is to come. While the premise of those who believe thusly might in theory be partially correct, the depth of the law goes far beyond our ability to understand, much less practice what the infinitely spiritual law prescribes. To begin with, the law given to Moses was more than just ten things we are to do or not to do. To understand what this law encompassed we must read and digest the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy in particular, and the whole of the Old Testament Bible in general; and even this would not completely show us the complete facets of God’s spiritual law.

Gal 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

Exo 20:1 And God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Exo 21:1 Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.

Exo 24:3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.

Deut 6:1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.

Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Word made flesh, taught in the New Testament that the spiritual laws of God went far beyond what is written down in Scripture. Jesus, in referring to a group of religious men called Pharisees, who believed in a strict adherence to the Old Testament law, taught that our righteousness must exceed even their most diligent obedience. The Apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, was himself a Pharisee of the strictest sect. Testifying about his former life, before coming to know Christ, said that he was blameless in the keeping of that law; but, he had come to realize that even his greatest efforts were not enough to completely satisfy its demands. Furthermore, while the practicing of these written laws might bring us some measure of good in this life, they most certainly do not give us any hope for the world to come.

Matt 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matt 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
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But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Matt 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you,
That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God,
walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Phil 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
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And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

If these spiritual laws are more than just the Ten Commandments, and even more than what is revealed in the Bible as a whole, what are they? Furthermore, can we hope to practice them so as not to sin or transgress them? To the first of these questions, we would answer that there is not a list, or book—not even the Bible—where all of these laws can be found, because they are infinite. It could be said that there was once a source where man could view them—of which we will later refer to—but it does not exist now. Now, we say these laws are infinite because God Himself is an infinite being, and the spiritual laws of which we speak are how God acts in every conceivable situation. Whatever God does is holy and right and good; and what He does determines what is good, and whatever He does not do determines what is evil, or sin. This is the supreme spiritual law of which we speak.[1] However, let us make this plain, that God is not governed by this law, for indeed the law would then be supreme and not God. Howbeit, whatever God does is within the realm of this law. This is why God is unchangeable, and we can trust Him not to do something that is against His spiritual nature, or law. He is not one day going to become some evil God that violates His Word or His laws, and begins to torment His creatures for no reason. However, as we begin to view the scope of this spiritual law, we also begin to understand mankind’s dilemma. This dilemma man has faced since the Garden of Eden; and it is—that we have not the remotest possibility of trying to keep or practice this law; for we would have to be God to do so.

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Gen 18:25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Mal 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Heb 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Rom 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Having examined the scope of the law, there are those that would ask, ‘How could God place man under a law, and make him accountable to keep that law, that man has no possible means or ability to obey?’ The answer to that question is—that God never placed man under this law; man placed himself under it in the Garden of Eden. God never puts more upon his creatures than they can bear; and He only gives them laws and boundaries which they can reasonably obey. Every creature was designed to operate in their own realm and under laws designed for them. Angels, men, animals, even the natural world and the universe, all have their designed place in God’s creation; and He set boundaries which they were not permitted to cross. However, we know from Scriptures, that both men and angels have crossed those boundaries, and in doing so they sinned. The Arch Angel Lucifer became the Devil by wanting to be like God. Certain angels left their “habitation” and commingled with women; and in doing so they sinned, and brought eternal judgment upon themselves. Mankind was tempted by Satan with the forbidden fruit, with the idea that we too could become gods; and in doing so brought sin and death into the world.

1 Cor 15:39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
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There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

Job 38:8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,
10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,
11 And said,
Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Gen 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
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That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Jude 1:6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

2 Pet 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

 

[1] For a deeper explanation, see The Garden and the Gospel, Understanding the Garden Account, The Law, also available from this author or at "http://GodsPurposes.org".


 

 

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