Sin… yep, such a problem. I find many, including myself, struggle with this concept because without proper understanding of what sin actually is leaves too many with contradictory verses, concepts, and misunderstandings.
So, sin. The word literally means to miss the mark. But first you have to see that there IS a mark to be missed. Take the golden calf Aaron made. Before they were told it was wrong to do, no one did it. They had the gold from day one. But the Ten Commandments were not given for over a month! They were told not to do it, and they turned around and did it. They sinned. A bullseye was created and they were given instructions and they missed it. That is what sin is: to miss the mark. But it’s still more than that, so here’s the Hebrew for it:
– Original: חטא
1. to sin, miss, miss the way, go wrong, incur guilt, forfeit, purify from uncleanness
1. to miss
2. to sin, miss the goal or path of right and duty
3. to incur guilt, incur penalty by sin, forfeit
1. to bear loss
2. to make a sin-offering
3. to purify from sin
4. to purify from uncleanness
1. to miss the mark
2. to induce to sin, cause to sin
3. to bring into guilt or condemnation or punishment
1. to miss oneself, lose oneself, wander from the way
2. to purify oneself from uncleanness
Interestingly the Hebrew letters of this word mean:
ח fenced in/wall/separation;
Being a prisoner of the snake leader!
How very fitting! We know that we are free FROM sin, but we still sin in this body of flesh. We are to be overcomers, nay, more than overcomers, because how to/way/path to defeat sin in our lives was literally lived by Jesus for us to follow. So to remain in sin is to remain a prisoner. Before we were saved, we were sinners/prisoners on death row for those sins. After we were saved, the sentence has been commuted and the prison doors opened for us to leave. BUT!!! We have to leave. It is a process. First we look at the door in disbelief – “Is it really open after so many years?!” We inch forward, all the while, our Judge and Executioner is saying we are free. He gently calls us over to the open door. Something happens, a sound, a thought, and we run back into our familiar corner. And we have to start over again. Some make it to the door and just stick their heads out to survey their surroundings. Spooked again by the change, we run back to our corner in fear or in surrender to sin. People fundamentally don’t like change. After a few years, sadly, we might make it a foot out the door. We see how wonderful it is, but again we become tempted with the familiar for fear of the unknown freedom.
So what is happening in this scenario? In a nutshell, we don’t trust the Judge and Executioner to do what He says. We revert back to our old habits and sin. Think of the lost years to sin. We forfeit our freedom. While we may not be physically free of sin, by our own choice, will we be executed for remaining in the prison? No, not at all. But look at it like this, whether we’re in the prison or free, unless events change, we’ll all die physically. We can’t even imagine what our lives would have been like if we had trusted our Judge and Executioner, trusted Him and obeyed Him, and lived free lives what a difference that would be. Those that leave the prison of sin enjoy a great relationship with our Judge and Executioner and live a full meaningful life showing His mercy and grace and calling other prisoners out too. Sin and salvation are not just about what happens AFTER we died physically, but what our lives are like NOW, here TODAY on this planet. Remaining in sin after salvation begs the question: are you really saved? If so, then you’re free from sin, so why remain in the prison? Remaining in sin after salvation, if you are indeed saved, only leaves you ignorant, lonely, and hurting, blaming God for problems in your life, when He paid the price for you to be free. Sin affects the relationship with God. He died for you, set you free, so what more can He do?
To obey the Judge and Executioner helps us to get out of the prison. We heed His words! He’ll clean you up, set you on the correct path, and gives you a job to do. The more faithful you are to Him, the more responsibilities He’ll give you. Imagine the spiritual the way life is and you’ll understand. If you’re the boss and you take a chance and give a homeless kid a job, pay him well, if he does a lousy job cleaning the toilets and taking out the trash, why would you trust him with the cash register? Why do you think God would be any different? Be a faithful servant and He’ll make you the ruler over His whole house!
Put sin in its correct context and understand what the word of God is saying when it talks about sin. At what point is it referring to? Before salvation. After salvation. Before a great relationship. After freedom with a great relationship. God’s protection from the effects of sin are not long term. His umbrella shrinks over time to allow us to see that there’s sin still in our lives and to get closer to God to remain under His umbrella of protection. Things once permitted newborns (wetting themselves, making a mess trying to eat) are not permitted in adults. Put everything into correct perspective and we’ll understand the word of God. Don’t spiritualize everything. The word of God is our guidebook to be free, don’t make new laws to keep others a prisoner because we don’t want to be free!