Doctrine of Sin
The Knowledge of Sin and the Bible
Sin. It is the least understood topic in the word of God. When most people are asked what sin is, they say murder, stealing, adultery, drunkenness, drug abuse, swearing, idolatry, coveting, homosexuality, lying, lusting, gluttony, or another descriptive words from a litany of what people may (or may not) think are sins. But none of these words are actually “sin”, they only describe a result of sin. They are describing symptoms (like a runny nose, fever, cough, or rash), not the disease itself.
Sin is diagnosed by testing for it against the Law of God. God is holy, sin is unholy and contrary to the nature to the Law of God, yet its strength is by the Law of God (1 Corinthians 15:56). It is a condition that currently permeates all things within the creation (Job 25:5) and is indicated in nature by death and entropy. It affects both organic and non-organic matter. Its power is within the very air we breath that sustains life (Ephesians 2:2) and is manipulated by the one whose rebellion against God unleashed sin into the initial creation in the first place.
Sin is a ‘spiritual’ entity. It cannot be known without the word of God, it cannot be explained outside of the word of God. Its origin, propagation and deadly effects on nature and man cannot be comprehended without the word of God. There is no escape from it outside of the Word of God.
The First Sin and its Propagated Consequences
How does one explain sin and why is it such a hateful thing before God? Perhaps an example presented in a similitude would be a good way to start:
God is holy, God is Spirit; a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Nothing can stand in the presence of fire except fire itself. Anything that is not fire will be consumed by fire unless it is shielded from the fire or becomes one with that fire. For example’s sake, let’s liken the Spirit of God to electrical energy.
Electricity and its workings are invisible (so is Spirit). God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11) and neither is electricity. Unlike God, electricity is not a sentient entity, so the comparison is not strictly equivalent, but enough to convey certain salient points.
Electricity conducts itself where it will and demands respect and obedience in handling. Violate that respect and you will get fried and perish without mercy. Respect it and wisely observe its rules and you shall live, and you will benefit from the blessings of its energy. Such also is a similitude in comparing the goodness and severity of God. The big difference between the two is this: God is Holy, and God is an eternal living entity that thinks and has a heart. Electricity is a no-brainer and is heartless. Did you know that a bird can land on a typical high-voltage cable carrying thousands of volts and suffer no harm? Why? Because under that specific circumstance, the bird becomes one with the voltage potential of the wire. But let the bird simultaneously make contact to an object with a different potential, while also sitting on that wire, and it will be instantaneously be flashed into flaming molecules of biological residue. Why? Because you can’t be in contact with both a high-voltage potential and a lower or no voltage potential at the same time. In a similar way, you can’t be one with a holy God and be unholy at the same time.
When Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12) rebelled against God and attempted to usurp God’s glory and place of holy sovereignty, Lucifer and the entire ancient creation of the heaven and Earth under his stewardship were no longer at one with the Spirit of God. At that point, sin was created (a difference of potential, if you will), and across that conductor of action the fiery wrath of God was unleashed against the person of Lucifer and all things under him within the creation.
What had been a perfect and holy physical creation was transformed instantly, along with Lucifer, into something unholy in God’s presence. The perfect became imperfect; the stable became unstable; what was made without corruption became corrupted and began to decay. Death was unleashed upon the physical creation. What scientists call entropy (heat death) was infused into the very nature of the cosmos, with irreversible effect, disrupting a harmonious balance and symmetry of matter and energy.
Immediately exposed and unshielded from the presence of an angry Holy God with a countenance of great wrath, the early solar system was now abruptly impacted by the resulting shockwave of disturbance unleashed by Lucifer’s sin down on the Earth. Orbits were disrupted. At least one planet exploded and fragmented. Life sustaining atmospheres were stripped away from others. All of this happened at least over 4.5 billion years ago in the antiquity of what we know as geologic deep-time. And it all happened because of one, single act of sin.
When the scientist today sees evidence of such apparent chaos in the chemistry of Earth’s geological record, and observes the ancient impact craters on the face of Earth’s moon, his assumptive reasoning tells him it is evidence of Earth’s early ‘evolutionary’ beginnings. Without the wisdom of the Bible and the knowledge of sin, he is unaware that the wisdom to be seen in the heavenly places (Psalms 19) is actually revealing quite another story, that of the early created Earth’s decimation through the agency of God’s wrath against Lucifer’s heinous sin.
Across the Earth’s geologic ages that followed, surviving life-forms that were initially flourishing in an ecological paradise created by God, were now subjected to a protracted struggle against death and corruption; sold into the slavery of sin and relegated to a choice of kill or be killed in a futile attempt to escape the unavoidable consequences of sin and death. Even non-biological matter was not immune from the effects sin and the induced ravages of entropy and decay.
As the ages rolled by, in what scientists hypothetically define as the Earth’s natural ‘evolutionary development’, there was an unseen spiritual hand at work manipulating surviving nature. Lucifer (Satan), who was the anointed cherub that covered (Ezekiel 28:14) and was initially appointed by God as the master craftsman of physical nature and conservator of God’s beautiful creation, was now fervently working to bring forth a new world order for himself from the very ruins of the world his rebellion had destroyed. But even Lucifer himself did not realize that he was not the one in control, sin was.
Through a guided and deliberate manipulation of surviving biological organisms through reproductive cycling and environmental adaptation, and with the cooperation of the evil Angels that followed him to Earth in the ancient rebellion, Satan eventually restored the Earth’s surface to conditions akin to approximating what God had originally created in antiquity. But the whole effort resulted in a humiliating failure. By the time things almost reached the intended goal, the entropy and corruption brought forth by his initial sin against God had run its course and the universal physical creation stopped functioning and, quite literally, died of old age and perished. That was the end of the Angel’s earthly World. What was created out of nothing and glorious in holiness (Genesis 1:1) was now in complete ruin (Genesis 1:2).
"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
(Genesis 1:2 KJV)
That, in a nutshell, is the Biblical backstory of the origin of sin and its consequences.
The First Sin in Man’s World
Only God Himself could effectively deal with the unleashed power of sin within the remains of the creation and redeem it from sin. He had created the heaven and Earth for His pleasure and glory and He would redeem the creation from sin for His pleasure and even greater glory.
"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,"
(Genesis 2:4 KJV)
“Let there be light…” (Genesis 1:3), He begins the protracted work of redemption. At this point in time, the Lord God salvages the cold, dead sin-destroyed remains of the creation and fashions from it a functioning replacement. With this new creation, and the new beings he would create to populate it, He would eventually destroy sin and Satan once and for all. It would be accomplished through His holiness, and through something else in His character that the powers of darkness could not even comprehend, the power of Love. The way He structured this new creation, in seven, literal 24-hour days-days, contained the kernel of wisdom that revealed His methodology and assurance of promise.
Note, that when God created the new heavens and Earth that, at the very outset, He made some divisions. First, He divided physical Day from Night, but He also divided spiritual Day and Night (light from darkness). At Genesis 1:2 there are two (2) forms of darkness present, physical and spiritual. The importance of this knowledge is pointed out in the capitalization of the words “Day” and “Night” at verse Genesis 1:5 in the King James Bible. The cross-reference explaining this Biblical distinction and similitude is found in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 5:5).
Then, He made another division that was not part of the original creation. He made an impassable barrier called the firmament and placed a “Sea” between the second and third heavens within that firmament. Notice that the word “Seas” is also capitalized in Genesis 1:10 to emphasize the importance and uniqueness of this additional element. That “sea” was to remain there from the beginning of the seven-days regeneration and last until the very end of the 1,000-year reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason that sea was placed where it was (Psalms 148:4), is because even in this regeneration of a new heavens and Earth, death and sin were still present within the physical and spiritual realm of created things. It would not be until the final banishment of sin and death (see: Revelation 20:13-21:1) that this sea will be removed.
This brings us to Adam and Eve and their initial encounter with the power of sin. The fact that both good and evil existed in the newly created world of man is made clear in the Bible (Genesis 2:17). But the power of sin was dormant now, positionally excluded from this newly created world by the design of God. When Adam disobeyed God’s commandment, by the act of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that action of disobedience opened the way for the power of sin and death to “enter” Adam’s world (Romans 5:12) and bring with it both spiritual and physical death upon all mankind.
By their act of sin, Adam and Eve were relegated under the power of sin. They were no longer one with God in their innocence but were now spiritually at a different potential from God. And God was righteous in bringing the man and woman under the sentence of His wrath in judgment. But unlike in the case of Lucifer’s rebellion, where God’s wrath was immediately unleashed on the face of the creation with catastrophically devastating effect, that violence did not immediately happen to the new world on the face of the Earth when Adam transgressed. Why?
The reason why goes back to Genesis 1:6-10. God, through His foreknowledge and omnipotence, knew ahead of time that Adam and Eve would sin. And because Adam and Eve would be used for God’s glory and the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ (something God had planned on from even before creation), He had that firmament and Sea structure in place to shield this new world and creation from Himself. Yes, a curse was pronounced against Adam and his world (Genesis 3:17), but it was God’s intention that this new creation would survive intact throughout the entire unfolding of God’s dealings with man. Everything concerning man would be for His glory and demonstration of His great love for mankind and the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, this was God’s intention from the beginning, even before the original creation of the heaven and Earth (Genesis 1:1) in antiquity.
God had full foreknowledge that Lucifer would rebel and bring ruination to the old heaven and Earth. So, while Lucifer was busy after his fall manipulating physical life and matter, in vain, to make a world from the ruins that he could rule over, the Lord God was using Lucifer’s best efforts to prepare the earth for the eventual inhabitation by man. All those dead creatures and vegetation in deep-time that perished, and over geologic ages became oil and coal, their demise was preordained for the eventual use of man. Noah used the bitumen that came from that oil to pitch the Ark. We are using it today to make plastics and medicines and power automobiles. The coal formed from the accumulated death and rot of ancient vegetation in the old world is now used for warmth and manufacturing. Even the remains of tiny biological life-forms, that survived the wrath of God at Lucifer’s fall, and were subjected to existence in a sulphur-laden anoxygenic environment, formed much of the iron we extract from the Earth today to make steel. Tiny marine creatures that perished across time give us limestone today to make that iron into steel and their calcareous remains are an integral part of the concrete we build with. God had all of this in mind from before the beginning. But none of these ways, in which God turned the consequences of sin into a means for His own glory, makes sin any kind of positive thing. God simply used what was evil for His own predetermined purposes. The consequences of sin are cumulative and grievous and cruel to everyone and everything in its path:
1. Upon Lucifer: The first sinner, was created a beautiful creature full of wisdom and light (Ezekiel 28:12-17). Sin cost him his coveted position as heaven’s anointed cherub, turned him into a depraved dragon (Revelation 12:4) and consigned him to a fate of eternal punishment in flaming torment (Matthew 25:41).
2. Upon Mankind: Adam’s act of disobedience opened the door for sin and death to enter the world of man. Its effects separated him from fellowship with God and subjected his descendants to a miserable physical and spiritual existence filled with pain, toil, suffering and depravity of mind and heart.
3. Upon Nature: Sin destroyed the balance and harmony of the creation, condemning and transforming it into a constantly decaying state of heat-death and structural depletion. Sin turned paradise into a chaotic wilderness that had to feed upon itself to continue to exist.
4. Upon God: Sin deprived God of His pleasure and rest, destroying the enjoyment of His creation and inflicted great sorrow upon His very heart.
The Metaphors of Sin
The Bible is replete with metaphorical examples of the nature of sin. These pictorial expressions are provided by the Spirit of Truth to illuminate the understanding through comparisons to things that we encounter in our lives:
Sin is poisonous, like a viper (Matthew 23:33). A snake bite is not only initially painful and the experience horrifying, but the full effects are not immediate. As the venom works its way into the body, powerful neurotoxins begin to physically destroy nerves and tissue and the local pain and swelling at the point of incision is just the beginning. It attacks the blood and circulates throughout the entire body, resulting in paralysis and destruction of vital organs. Without an antivenom, the end result is death.
Sin is cruel, like a bear (Daniel 7:5). A provoked bear will viciously rip a person to shreds with its claws and teeth, disemboweling the body and eating the bloody remains of the corpse. Wild dogs (Proverbs 26:11), wolves (John 10:12) and lions (Psalms 22:13) display similar temperament. Without rescue or fortunate escape, the end result is death.
Sin is cunning, like a fox (Luke 13:32). A fox knows how to stalk its prey and is relentless in ingenuity and cunning. Drug addition, like in the use of opioids, is a manifestation of the fox-like behavior of sin. Initially, the user gains pleasure or relief from the use, but with recurrent use tolerance builds up and more and more of the substance is required to obtain the desired results. When and if the victim tries to discontinue use, he or she finds themselves subjected to very unpleasant physical and emotional distress that can only be relieved by either continued consumption, or a prolonged endurance of suffering and anguish while the poisonous effects are solely reversed by the body’s immune system and restoration of biological balance (going cold turkey). Without an appropriate intervention, continued use eventually results in death, or permanent physical or mental impairment at the very least (and then you die anyway).
Sin is filthy, like a swine (2 Peter 2:22). Sin, regardless of the variety, is unclean and leads to further uncleanliness. In the example of the drug user that is bitten by the viper’s poison, and is trapped like by a cunning fox, the quest for money to feed the habit has been known to lead the victim into the commission of acts of robbery and even murder. They themselves can be killed or cruelly maimed by authorities or people rightfully protecting themselves or their property against the addict’s crimes. Addict's families and homes are broken up and destroyed by the slothful behavior of the addicted, or abuse or the financial ruin of the family. Or the addicted may even find themselves extorted by their own circumstances into prostitution (or worse) to support their filthy habit. The consequences of sin and the degree of filth to be encountered is found down many passage ways. Again, without rescue from this situation, the end result is death, not only of self, but possibly of others.
The workings of sin can been seen across the pages of human history. Its presence is know to its practitioners by the testimony of one’s conscience, if they still have one (1 Timothy 4:2). Its effects can be seen in the multiplicity of religious systems constructed in man’s attempts to mitigate and deal with sin’s consequences. You can see sin in action in the behavior of children, hear about it on the evening news, or sense it between the lines of a hateful comment posted to your Facebook feed. The entire world, and all things in it, are under the power of sin.
Lastly, you can read about sin in the Holy Bible. You can know what it did to men and women from the time of Adam and Eve until the birth of Jesus. You can see how the power of sin caused the Jews to crucify their own Messiah at His first coming, and you can read in the book of Revelation where sin is taking today’s world. But unsaved men and women are not the only ones that are affected by the power of sin. Even the saved and ‘born-again’ Christian, who must continue abiding within a fleshly body until physical death, is not immune from the consequences of sin in the flesh. The Apostle Paul discusses this predicament at great length (see Romans 7:14-25). A Christian that sins can lose light, joy, peace, fellowship, love for God and Church, loss of health and even his or her physical life. And, although the soul remains saved (a believer’s eternal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be lost), sin in our Christian walk of life, in this world, can also result in the loss of certain rewards in the next world.
The Answer to Sin
The only answer to sin and the consequences of sin is the Word of God. It requires intercession of the Son of God and the Spirit of God and that is accomplished by God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, in His loving dealings with both the saved and the lost in this world. The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner and points him or her to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and the holy promise of Salvation. The Holy Spirit convicts the saved saint and points them to Christ for confession and abandonment of fleshly sins and for cleansing by Christ, the process of Sanctification.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the ONLY refuge and remedy from the penalty and power of sin. The Lord Jesus Christ made the creation. The Lord Jesus Christ will redeem the creation, and only those that call upon Him for Salvation will be saved from sin.
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Gaines R. Johnson, D.D., D.Th.
The Bible, Genesis & Geology Ministry
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