Yesterday I wrote about “Silent” Cal, Calvin Coolidge the 30th president of the United States. He was a man of few words, and one Sunday his wife was ill and stayed home while Calvin went to church by himself. When he returned, his wife Grace, asked, “What did the preacher talk about?”
“Sin,” was Calvin’s short reply.
“Well, what did he say about it, Calvin?” she asked.
“He was against it.”
Sin is a huge subject. The most common word for sin is hamartia (αμαρτια) which means “missing the mark,” and thus “failure, sin.” The Apostle Paul observed, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23, but there are many ways we can miss the mark.
- We can sin out of ignorance (agnoma αγνοημα) Hebrews 9:7. On a quiet Sunday morning, with no traffic for as far as the eye could see in any direction, I made a U-turn in the middle of the street. A nice motorcycle patrolman informed me of the error of my ways but pointed out “ignorance is no excuse.” I atoned for my sin in traffic school.
- Some children of the 60s were “born to be wild.” They delight in being “lawless” sinners (anomiaανομια) Matthew 7:23; 13:41; 23:28; 24:12; Romans 6:19. They want to “do their own thing.” The problem with this kind of sin is God’s laws are not arbitrary. He is a loving God and wants us to have the most fulfilling life. If we chose to disobey God’s law, we are hurting ourselves. Think about it. Two people might jump out of an airplane, but if only one of them is wearing a parachute, who do you think will enjoy the experience more? Good laws are liberating!
- Many people have no time for God or religion. Paul calls them “ungodly” (asebia ασεβεια) in Romans 1:18; 11:26. Theirs’ is a double sin. Not only are they actively sinning, but their impiety also interferes with others’ faith. They are guilty of “suppressing the truth.”
- If we believe God loves and provides the best life for us, sinners have something missing. As a result of sin, they are “defective,” something is missing from their life (attama ηττημα) Romans 11:12; 1 Corinthians 6:7.
- Let’s go back to our definition of sin as “missing the mark.” That can happen in many different ways. For example, the arrow can fly over the target and go too far. This is called a “transgression” (parabasisπαραβασις) Romans 4:15; 5:14; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2. Likewise, we can also fall short of the mark. This too is sin.
- We might miss the mark because we weren’t paying attention. We weren’t listening (parakoa παρακοη) Romans 5:19; Hebrews 2:2.
- Sin can also be described as a “misdeed, false step, blunder” (paraptoma παραπτωμα). Sin often “trips us up” or we might “trespass” Matthew 6:14, 15; Romans 5:15 ff.
Whether it is from ignorance, accident, or willful rebellion. Sin is at the heart of the human condition!