The Sinfulness of Sin by Paul Washer.
To begin our study of man’s personal participation in Adam’s rebellion, we must have a correct understanding of the nature or character of sin. Therefore it is necessary that we study the many attributes and manifestations of sin as they are revealed in the Scriptures. In doing so, we will discover that sin is much more than an error in moral judgment, even much more than disobedience to some impersonal law.
Sin is a crime against the person of God. In our study we must do more than simply define terms. We must regain a biblical understanding of the sinfulness of sin. We live in a world and worship in churches that, for the most part, no longer understand the heinous nature of sin and so we must endeavor to rediscover what has been lost. Our understanding of God and of the greatness of our Salvation in Christ depends upon it.
Sin is Always against God
Sin is always first and foremost a sin against God and an affront to His person. To disobey a divine command is to clench the fist and wag it in the face the One who gives life to all and rules over all. Today, if people speak of sin at all, they speak of sin against man, or sin against society, or even sin against nature, but rarely do we hear of sin against God. A person is thought to be good, because they have good relations with their fellowman, even though they live in total disregard for God and His will. It is often asked how God can judge an atheist, who is a good man, and yet we are blind to the fact that any man who denies His Creator and renders nothing to the One who gives him all things cannot be good. The Scriptures record that King David lied to his people, committed adultery, and even orchestrated the murdered of an innocent man.
And yet when confronted with his sins, he cried out to God, “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4). David knew that all sin is first and foremost sin against God. Until one understands this truth, they can never understand the heinous nature of sin.
Sin is Failure to Love God
The greatest of all sins is the violation of the greatest of all commands: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Christ declared, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15), therefore, all disobedience is a demonstration of our lack of love toward God. For this reason, when the apostle Paul sought to prove the depravity of mankind in the first three chapters of the book of Romans, he referred to Adam’s race as “haters of God” (Romans 1:30). No greater indictment could be made against fallen man. Not loving God is at the very heart of all rebellion. It should also be noted that a man might be very religious and conscientious of divine law and duty, and yet be a terrible sinner before God, if his obedience is prompted by anything other than love for God.
Sin is Failure to Glorify God
The Scriptures declare that man was created for the glory of God and that all that man does, even the most menial tasks of eating and drinking should be done for God’s glory (I Corinthians 10:31). For man to glorify God is for him to esteem the supremacy and worth of God above all things, to take joy in God and be satisfied in Him above all things, and to live before God with the reverence, gratitude, and worship that is due Him. Sin is the very opposite of glorifying God. When man sins he becomes the opposite of what he was created to be. A sinful man is a creature who has dislocated himself and perverted the very reason for his existence. He has replaced God with self and God’s will with self-determination. Paul the apostle writes, “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God,” and “They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:21, 25). Sin’s roots go much deeper that what is seen on the surface. It is man’s refusal to acknowledge God’s right as God. It is man’s determination to set himself above his Creator, usurp His throne, and steal His glory. Sin is fundamentally a refusal to glorify God as God, and it manifests itself anytime that man seeks his own glory above God’s.
Sin is Godless and Ungodly
The word godlessness denotes a refusal to acknowledge God as God, a desire to live a “godless” existence, free from His sovereignty and law. The word ungodliness denotes a refusal to be conformed to the character and will of God, a desire for moral depravity rather than likeness to God. It has been said that the greatest compliment that may be paid to another person is to desire to be “with” them and be “like” them. Sin reveals an inward desire to live “without” God and to be “unlike” God. This is a great affront to God!
Sin is Rebellion and Insubordination
In I Samuel 15:23 the Scriptures declare: “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry...” The word “rebellion” is translated from the Hebrew word meri, which means to be contentious, rebellious, or disobedient towards. The word “insubordination” is translated from the Hebrew word patsar, which literally means “to press or push.” It denotes one that is pushy, insolent, arrogant, and presumptuous. There are no small sins, because all sin is rebellion and insubordination. To practice any form of rebellion is as evil as partaking in some pagan or demonic ritual. To practice any form of insubordination is as evil as partaking in gross iniquity or rendering worship to a false god.
Sin is Lawlessness
In I John 3:4, the Scriptures declare, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” The word “lawlessness” is translated from the Greek word anomía [a = without, no + nómos= law]. To practice “lawlessness” is to live “without law” or as though God had never revealed His will to mankind. A person may “practice lawlessness” by openly defying the rule and law of God, or by simply being unconcerned and willingly ignorant. In either case, the person is showing contempt for God and His Law. The abominable nature of “practicing lawlessness” is seen in the fact that the antichrist is referred to as the “man of lawlessness” (II Thessalonians 2:3).
Sin is Treachery
The word “treachery” denotes a deceitful and unfaithful act against another. Throughout the Scriptures, treachery is seen as being an aspect found in all sin (Ezekiel 18:24), in rebellion (Isaiah 48:8), in forsaking the true God for idols (I Chronicles 5:25), and in any form of apostasy or turning away from God (Psalm 78:57). All sin a betrayal of the One who created us and lovingly sustains our lives.
Sin is an Abomination
If only one thing could be said about sin, it should be said that above all things sin is an abomination to God. An abomination before the Lord is a foul, disgusting, abominable thing. It is detestable and loathsome to God and an object of His hatred (Proverbs 6:16). In the Scriptures, all sin is an abomination and to sin is to act abominably (Ezekiel 16:52). Proverbs 28:9 declares that “He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination,” and Proverbs 15:8-9 declares that the lifestyle and sacrifice of the wicked are an abomination. All idolatry (Deuteronomy 7:25) and any unjust act (Deuteronomy 25:16) is an abomination before the Lord, as well as any person who is devious (Proverbs 3:32; 15:26), a liar (Proverbs 12:22), perverse in heart (Proverbs 11:20), or proud in heart (Proverbs 16:5). In Revelation 21:8, 27, the Scriptures conclude with the warning that the abominable and those who practice abominations will suffer eternal punishment.
Sin is Missing the Mark
The most common Hebrew word for sin is chata, which means to miss the mark, miss the way, or go wrong. In Judges 20:16, we read that the men of Benjamin could “sling a stone at a hair and not miss [chata], and in Proverbs 19:2, we read, “He who hurries his footsteps errs or misses the way [chata]. In the New Testament, the most common Greek word for sin is hamartáno, which may also be translated to miss the mark, err, be mistaken, or wander from the path. According to the Scriptures, the mark or goal toward which man is to aim is the glory of God. Any thought, word or deed that does not have the glory of God as its chief end is sin. It is important to note that sin [chata or hamartáno] is never seen as an innocent mistake or honest error, rather it is always a willful act of disobedience resulting from man’s moral corruption and rebellion against God.
Sin is Trespassing the Boundary
The word “transgress” is translated from the Hebrew word abar which means to cross or pass over, to pass through, or to by pass. To transgress God’s command is to go beyond what is permitted by God’s commands. It is to ignore the restrictions imposed upon us by God’s law and to run beyond its fence. In the New Testament, the word “transgress” is translated from the Greek word parabaíno, which means to go by the side of, to go passed, to pass over, or to step over. In Matthew 15:2-3 is found an excellence example of parabaíno: The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples break [parabaíno] the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And Jesus answered them, “Why do you yourselves transgress [parabaíno] the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?