The doctrine of sin is as deep a topic as the word used for it is short. This doctrine is particularly important for the Christian. It is because in it one sees why a Savior is needed and why there is so much violence and disagreement in the world. Not only will one see this, but they will see that it does not matter how good they are, they are still evil and unrighteous. In this article, I will seek to show that sin is all-pervasive as well as the destruction of relationship with God and more than falling short or missing the mark.
Very quickly in Scripture, one sees sin come on the scene. It does so when the serpent deceives the woman and she eats the forbidden fruit, sin here enslaves all humanity (Gen. 3:1-7). In this Scripture, two things are obvious about sin. The first is that sin is not natural. It is something that was brought into humanity but not something that is natural to humanity. The next obvious thing is that sin immediately affects humanity. The unnatural aspect of sin caused the man and woman to notice the natural aspect of themselves and they felt shame (v. 7).
From right here one sees that sin is destructive to relationships. This is known because in verse eight it is said that the man and woman hid when they heard God. Not only does this show the breaking of a relationship, but the pervasiveness of sin. The first couple hid because they were ashamed of their being naked (vv.7,10). R.R. Reno stated that “Sin shapes life…sin enslaves, dictating the direction of human life” (“Doctrine of Sin.” Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible 750). This direction is away from God away from perfection to a destructive desire of one’s own making.
Sin impacts all of mankind in all aspects of life. This is known as total depravity. Total depravity, “does not mean that humans are thoroughly sinful but rather that they are totally incapable of saving themselves. The term suggests as well that the effects of the Fall extend to every dimension of human existence” (Grenz et al 37 Pocket dictionary of theological terms). Anthony Thiselton adds to this when he wrote, “Sin is more than a matter of isolated acts of failure or error” (The Hermeneutics of Doctrine 264). Total depravity does not mean that a person cannot recognize they are a sinner and admit this. To say this is wrongheaded and against the logical cognitive design we were created with. Total depravity is that we are not capable of saving ourselves because we are deeply diseased with sin and desire it over God.
So, sin is a complete failure because it is a transgression of God and His law. The proof of this aspect can be found in Scriptures such as 1 John 2:16 and 3:4, “For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life–is not from the Father but is from the world” and “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness” (English Standard Version). These sinful actions are of the world by the person transgressing the law of God they are not of God the Father. The Father only gives good and perfect gifts and is not tempted by evil nor is he tempted by evil (Jas. 1:13, 17).
If one compares this section of Scripture with Genesis one, they will see that God is the creator of good and perfect creations only giving good and perfect gifts. Human beings are the ones who have brought sin into the world and destroyed the relationship with the Father. All of creation is tainted by sin and in need of restoration (c.f. Rom. 3:22-23; 8:20-21). Daniel Migliore says that this is a “disruption of the created structures of human existence” (Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology 130). He further states that this disruption is a “denial of our essential relatedness to those who are genuinely other” (Migliore 130). It is because of the all-pervasive, total depravity, of sin that the perfect relationship is busted. This and the fact that sin is transgressing the Law of God.
If sin is transgressing the law and is a destroyed relationship, it must be more than missing the mark or falling short. It must be more than this. It is this, absolutely it is this, but it is much more than this. Reno states many words from the original languages that describe sin. Translated from the original languages these words are, “missing the mark, transgression, unrighteousness, impiety, lawlessness, depravity, and evil desire” (Reno 749). As is shown, missing the mark is part of what sin is, but sin is so much more than that. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God” (391). Sin is against God in all ways. This is seen in Genesis three when the man and woman ate the fruit. The man was told that he could eat of all the fruit of the garden but the one tree (Gen. 2:16-17). This was not obeyed, and all humanity has been disobeying God ever since that time.
This leads to how sin makes all people sinners. This topic is one that has seen much time and thought. The apostle Paul states that sin came into the world through one man and death and this death has spread to all because all sinned (Rom. 5:12). What has been studied and labored over is how exactly this sin is made to be every person’s sin when the sin was performed by one. One thing that is clear about this section is that sin has been brought into the world by one man. Through that action, now all people are cursed with this horrendous problem. What is worse is, sin can be unintentional or performed by omission (Lev. 4:2, 22, 27; 5:16; Num. 15:27-28). Sin is a devastating, destructive, and all-pervasive issue that humanity has. Sin is a perversion of human nature, a perversion of the image of God. That is why “Sin calls for a conversion…demanded of all, not just notorious sinners…Jesus makes conversion a fundamental requirement” (Thiselton 266). Thankfully, Jesus has made the way through His righteousness for one to obtain this fundamental requirement.
The brevity of this writing can only briefly touch upon what sin is. Although this is the case, sin has been shown to be all-pervasive, a relationship destroyer, and more than falling short or missing the mark. Sin is a very destructive aspect of humanity now that can only be redeemed by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Amazingly, this redemption has been made available to all of us unrighteous wicked sinners.