The Nature of Sin

ALIENATION

“The cosmic upheaval that came about as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve can be summarized as alienation or estrangement.”

First, “there is estrangement between man and nature after the fall…. God gave Adam and Eve dominion over creation, so when they fell, their corruption affected everything within the boundaries of their domain [Rom. 8:22-23].” God cursed the ground, and “the world became resistant to the hands of fallen mankind.”

“Second, there is alienation between man and God. As a result of the fall, we are by nature in a state of enmity with God. We hear people say that God loves everyone unconditionally, but such thinking ignores the reality of this estrangement. In fact, much of Scripture” reveals “the steps God has initiated to cure this problem. The goal of salvation is to bring about the reconciliation of estranged parties.”

“Third, there is the alienation of man from man. Much violence occurs between human beings, not only on the individual level of broken relationships but also on the grand scale of nations rising against nations. When we sin, we not only disobey and dishonor God, but we also violate each other with murder, theft, adultery, slander, hatred and envy.”

“Fourth, we see the alienation of man from himself…. Behind the self-esteem movement is a realization that human beings have a problem with self-esteem. The reason for that is sin. At the fall, we became alienated not only from God and other people, but also from ourselves. It is not uncommon to hear people declare, ‘I hate myself.’ Underlying that attitude is the fact that we cannot completely deny the wickedness that resides in all mankind.”

WHAT IS SIN?

“Paul wrote in Romans, ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (3:23). The Greek word translated as ‘sin’ … comes from the arena of archery,” and means to miss the target. “Our utter failure to meet God’s standard of righteousness [His law] is the very definition of sin.”

Theologians “make a distinction between sins of commission and sins of omission. We are guilty of a sin of commission when we do something we are not allowed to do, and we commit a sin of omission when we fail to do something we are responsible to do.”

THE NATURE OF EVIL

“The Bible speaks of evil and sin using terms such as ungodliness and unrighteousness, such that sin is defined over against the positive norm by which it is measured.” We cannot understand un-godlinesss or un-righteousness until we have a clear understanding of godliness and righteousness. “The term antichrist is meaningless apart from first understanding the meaning of the term Christ. So there is a sense in which evil is dependent upon the prior existence of the good for its very definition. Evil is like a leech, a parasite that is dependent upon its host for its life. That is why we cannot speak about the problem of evil without first affirming the existence of the good.”

[Adapted from Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul]