Friday, November 28, 2008

Frequently Asked Friday

Kronk and his shoulder angels.

This is the first part of a greater subject that is far too great for a single post. Subsequent parts will be posted each Friday. By the way, the picture for this theme is inspired by Disney's The Emperor's New Groove, which is one of the funniest films I've ever seen. For more information on the shoulder angels, click here. While the picture does tie in with what I'm talking about, the shoulder angels aren't my focus. LOL!

What Is Sin?

I have never found an outright definition in the Bible, but here are some scriptures that shed some light on the nature of sin:
  • "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).
  • "... For whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23b).
  • "All unrighteousness is sin" (1 John 5:17a).
  • "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4).
  • "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14,15).
  • "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. 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: 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.... Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:20-22,27,28).

So, sin is breaking God's Law, as a result of lust, lack of faith, or disobedience. Also note that Jesus raised the bar, by stating that even dwelling on sinful thoughts count as sin. But what Law is it a sin to break? The explicit details of the Mosaic Law? "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:6). Apparently not, for the Law of Mount Sinai was fulfilled by Jesus, who gave us the two commandments that we need to follow. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matthew 22:37-39).

Sin, therefore, is breaking Jesus' commandments to love God above all else and others as ourselves. Sin is thoughts, words, or actions that originate from misdirected or insufficient love. Think about it. Every sin that you've ever committed can be traced back to loving yourself, or something, more than God or your fellow man (or woman).


Farrah said...

Great start, Honey! Do we really have to wait a whole week for the next part? (I know, I know. Stop your whining, Woman.) ;-)

Greg said...

Ha, funny. Actually, I may post something on a different topic before that, but Fridays will be reserved for this train of thought, until it reaches its destination.

jeleasure said...

This was an easy one for me to read.
What I looked at was the essence of Adam and Eve's act in the Garden of Eden. It was disobedience. But, the disobedience pointed to something far more important, Love.

Adam and Eve chose themselves over God. It was more important to them that they live life for self, than that of what God purposed for them; to be His family.

In our sin, do we not do it because of our interest? What ever it may be.

Andrew Clarke said...

This is a valuable piece of counsel on the subject. It also shows how human nature probably makes sinlessness impossible because we can barely help certain things, even though of course we should try. But if I can put it to you this way: selfishness begins with the self-preservation instinct. We need certain things to survive, so we seek to acquire them, and that can lead us to competing with others to get them. Then in becomes aggressive acquisition, i.e. avarice. This is the rich fool, taking satifaction in all his goods. It starts out with just providing for your needs, and then gets out of control. So we should strive to be righteous, but realize that we never can be, which is why we NEED Jesus' sacrifice to be saved. It's a paradox, or something. We should try, but know that we can never be without sin because human nature has fallen to that extent. Tell me if you think I'm wrong. I'll be glad to hear what you say next. Blessings.

Greg said...

Thanks for the comment, Jim. Yes, selfishness (a form of self-love) is one of the most common motives of sin. And no, there isn't anything controversial in this post... but wait. :)

Greg said...

If understand rightly, what is shown here is that some people claim they have surrendered to Jesus when they have not completely done so. Maybe it is like the deception of Annanias and Sapphira, which brought about their death. People are trying to keep part of themselves private from God and that brings about the collapse of their Christian walk, until they REALLY give all to God.

Hi, Andrew! Thanks for stopping by! You've good insight on where I'm heading with this, although my conclusions may be different from yours. Your comment on Farrah's Ray Boltz post is also connected with this topic and slightly at odds with your comment on this post. :) Intrigued? Stay tuned!

Dr. Russell Norman Murray said...

A definition here:


A limited definition from me:

Sin is a creation's thoughts/acts of disobedience against God. Sinful thoughts and acts are a sign of a sinful nature.

Greg said...

Thanks for the Tyndale reference, Russ. It made some good points.

jeleasure said...

Hi Greg and Farrah,
I just wanted to share something interesting with you.

Visit my wife's blog at We Really Do Need Each Other. Some times, God speaks to her or through her in very obvious ways. She was working on a blog this weekend. When she went to post it in Blogger, she had only one line from the center of her text. She labored to try and find what happened to it and then fell asleep.
I was on my computer when I heard her fussing over what had happened to her Word file. The Word File is gone from her computer. She had already saved it yesterday.
When I posted a comment on her blog, I read the word verification. It seldom has any sense to it. But this time, the word verification said, CURED!

Great Googly Moogly! said...


If this post is any indication, I'll be looking forward to future FAF's!

While I agree that "love" is the issue regarding sin (even with respect to the Law, "love" was still the issue), I would take it a step further. I believe that sin, at bottom, is unbelief. We simply do not believe God when we sin. This is why we are always called to "live by faith"; because if we live by "sight" we are in essense disbelieving God in whatever instance we find ourselves sinning (or discover ourselves to have sinned).

Sin, of course, manifests a lack of love--either toward God or our neighbor. But I believe unbelief is the underlying factor in our lack of love, and therefore, sin.

Great topic for discussion and/or reflection.

Good to have you back!


Greg said...

Hi, GGM! Good to be "back". I definitely see your point about belief and sin, however, remember that "the devils also believe and tremble." Beyond belief is outright knowledge, and even in the face of that knowledge, we can still sin.

One aspect of sinning is the belief that we won't get caught with our hands in the cookie jar. For example, if you decide to speed on the interstate, it may be because you don't believe you'll get caught. I bet you wouldn't do it, if you knew that there was a police car right behind you.

But what if you don't believe that it's wrong to go 10 mph above the speed limit? There's a stretch of road on the way to my weekly basketball that just got its speed limit decreased from 45 to 35, but it's two lanes, through largely undeveloped land. I believe the it should rightfully be 45, but I know it's really 35. This knowledge trumps my belief. So I'm still left with love: do I love getting there 30 seconds faster more than I love obeying the law and being a good Christian example?

You've given me something to think about. Maybe I'll do a post on it.

Greg said...

I just had another thought: Eve chose to believe the snake more than God, when the snake said that she wouldn't die if she ate the forbidden fruit. But punishment is secondary to the sin itself. It really does not matter what punishment (if any) she would receive. The point is she knew God did not want her eating that fruit. If she loved God more than herself, she would have obeyed, regardless any punishment.

Likewise, I love my wife too much to cheat on her. Having her mad at me and possibly filing for divorce is only secondary. Even if she would tell me that it was OK, I still would not do it, because of my undying love for her.

Yeah, I totally gotta do a post on this stuff.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

But true belief is knowledge, at least to the person who is "believing". We can say that we believe until the cows come home; the proof is in the pudding, so-to-speak. When we sin, we are betraying our unbelief that what God says is true is, in fact, really true: we don't believe God.

Eve certainly "believed" God in many ways; but when push came to shove, she proved that, at least in a certain situation, she didn't believe God. She chose to believe the lie in this instance, instead of God (as we all do all the time before our salvation and still often after our salvation).

The "belief" of the demons that God exists is no different from the fact that, according to Scripture, everyone believes but suppresses that truth in unrighteousness until they are "set free" by the Gospel to "believe" according to knowledge. And unless the demons have the capacity to "repent", I wouldn't necessarily equate the scope and efficacy of demon "belief/unbelief" with human belief/unbelief.

And this is why our sin (as Christians) is so...sinful; because we have been "born again" according to the truth. We have been granted "belief according to knowledge" so that our unbelief is...well...bordering on treacherous. Our sin is a great offense to God because when we sin in our unbelief, we're in effect calling God a liar; we're saying that what He said was true of us really isn't; we're living by sight and not by faith. Unbelief is the epitome of "not loving".

We're constantly called to "live by faith"--to believe Him. When we sin, we are not living in faith, but living by sight...not believing that His grace is sufficient for us; not believing that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world; not believing that "I can do all things through God who strenghens me", etc.

But it's also in our unbelief that we are reminded of the faithfulness of God. As Children, He disciplines us in our unbelief, but He never removes Himself or His love from us. Though we often call Him a liar, He is true and just and faithful as our Father to the covenant that He has made with us in His Son. And since we're forever joined to Christ in the New Birth, we are forever recipients of God's love and favor because we are His sons in Christ. And one day we will be glorified and we will see Him as He is and will never be subject again to unbelief.

Praise be to God that though we are so often found to be "unfaithful", God is always faithful and will complete in us what He has started by the power of the indwelling Spirit.

The psychology of belief/unbelief is a fascinating study. There were many in Israel who "believed" Jesus and were said to even be believing "in" Jesus; yet many went away sad and didn't follow Him. Did they really believe? I would say no, of course. But even as Christians, our calling is to continue to "trust" God, to "believe" Him. If we're in Christ, of course, we are garaunteed to "persevere" until the end; but our lives are still marked by instances of unbelief because we have yet to be perfected in Christ (the Spirit, though, will complete that work at His return). This is why our lives as Christians began by faith and will continue by faith until the consummation when faith will be turned to sight at His coming.

Naturally, if you still disagree with me...that's okay. These are good discussions for debate that have no bearing on our standing before God in Christ. But the subtle difference is that sin is so often thought of as a "doing" or a "not doing" of certain things. This kind of understanding easily leads to bondage because now we can set up a list to follow and in this way determine whether or not we are pleasing to God. But anybody who is motivated enough can follow "rules". Sin is more than simply what we "do" or "don't do"; it's a matter of being--are we believing God or not? The answer is shown in how we are living.

Sorry so long, but I wanted to be as clear as possible about how I understand sin. I hope I haven't failed miserably! :-)


Greg said...

Wow, GGM! Thank you for the well-thought-out and persuasive comment on sin. I agree that achieving agreement on this is paramount to our fellowship or our standing with God. In fact, this post was to be only a segue into a bigger topic.

However, I do believe ;) that I may need to explore this on Friday, as the root motive for sin is important for us Christians to understand. You brought up some excellent points, and I'm not out to prove you wrong... but rather to dig deeper for the truth.

Stay tuned...

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"I'm not out to prove you wrong..."

Nor I you...but as iron sharpens iron, we can encourage one another by sharing our faith and our understanding of things. I may be wrong here (as well as with many other things!), but as children of God discuss these things, I believe we glorify our heavenly Father. We want to know Him; and we grow in our knowledge of Him as we consider all aspects of our wonderful salvation.

Thanks Greg,