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Monday, September 24, 2007

What is sin?

I consider sin to be our determination to place more value on our own desire than on God’s desire.

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38 Comments:

Blogger dorsey said...

Agreed. The key to contentment then, I guess, is to align our desire with God's.

9/24/2007 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I think that's true Dorse. I would call that submission.

9/24/2007 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

Totally agree.
Susan

9/24/2007 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

That seems to be a pretty good definition, KC.

9/24/2007 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Also agreed. It falls in line with my belief that one can follow all the "rules" and still be in sin. This comes from personal experience, of course. :)

9/24/2007 08:28:00 AM  
Anonymous rrbj said...

Morning KC,

I knew that one day you would find a topic that we all agree with .

Blessings.
Ron.

9/24/2007 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Ms. Susan thanks so much for joining in! Your agreement is very reassuring. ;-)

Rose, as always, I'm encouraged by our agreement. ;-)

Missy, of course! ;-)

Certainly we must acknowledge that the scripture offers us some revelation concerning certain things that do and do not please God but even in these things we must have faith that what we do and do not do is as He would desire of us.

Grandpaw Ron, if only it were that easy. I'm afraid this is just the calm before the storm but I'm encouraged by those of us who do agree. ;-)

9/24/2007 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Ok, I'll bite. : )

Is sin more about specific deeds or is it more a state of existence?

9/24/2007 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

(Ron, see? and this is still mild.(hehe))

Dorse I would agree that sin places us in a state of separation from God and I think it fair to refer to that as a "state of sin" but I would still distinguish between that state and sin itself. What say ye? ;-)

9/24/2007 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

I don't know. I'm a little hung up making the distinction. I didn't necessarily mean the pre-conversion state of sin and separation. I meant for believers. Yes, there are specific acts of sin that can catch us up. But (and this is where I'm hung up) Luther emphasizes Paul's comment that everything that is not of faith is sin. That would tend to mean (in my feeble mind) that most daily activities are done in a sinful state, unless a) every thought and deed not performed in faith is a specific sin, or b) the idea is that we live in a state of perpetual faith and, therefore, none of our daily activities fall under that species of trespass.

9/24/2007 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse I'm trying to reduce my reply from the epistle in my mind to a comment, which I intend to post as soon as I do! ;-)

Your thoughts on daily activities with respect to sin and faith has provoked me to reply with a full blown essay on faith, guilt and forgivness. I think I can reduce it to a comment...somehow. ;-)

9/25/2007 06:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Gordon Cloud said...

KC, I think that what you have described is at the heart of every sin, in a word, pride.

As I have said before, pride is the first sin ever committed. It is the most satanic of all sins and is the root of every act of sin.

What you have described is the heighth of pride, exalting ourself above God.

9/25/2007 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pride, greed!

sin is a predator



jan

9/25/2007 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Preacher thanks so much for weighing in. I hadn't considered that might well define pride.

Amen Jan!

9/25/2007 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God.

This question is very important to our faith, for without a proper understanding of what sin is, we never truly appreciate grace. That's why God gives us the Law first, along with the consequences, so that we may understand and rejoice in His grace. The closer we come to understanding and cherishing His Law, the better we will understand His grace.
Blessings

9/26/2007 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pastor thanks so much for joining in on the discussion. I can appreciate your reasoning and I think we may even agree in spirit on this but I have a couple of problems with the terms in your definition.

If we use the term, “want” to define the basis for sin then we have a serious conflict to resolve in regard to Christ’ desire concerning the crucifixion as well as the lust by which He was tempted. Wouldn’t you agree that though He wanted these things He valued God’s desire above His own (“Let not my will…”)?

If we use the term “God’s Law” to define that which we should “want” above all else then we would have to conclude that Jewish Law was not God’s Law, again by virtue of Christ’ example (i.e. the woman caught in adultery). This would also introduce a host of theological problems to resolve such as sin and those who become a law unto themselves.

If we hold to either of these terms then don’t we necessarily imply that either Jesus sinned or that the Law of Moses was not God's law?

9/27/2007 04:48:00 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

KC,
The term "want" here means lacking. It's the older use of the term, meaning we are lacking in conformity to God's Law.

Does that help?

9/27/2007 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pastor thanks for the explanation. That certainly clears up the controversy concerning desire but what about the term “God’s law”? To rephrase my thoughts in light of your explanation;

“If we use the term “God’s Law” to define that which we should "conform" to then we would have to conclude that Jewish Law was not God’s Law, again by virtue of Christ’ example (i.e. the woman caught in adultery). This would also introduce a host of theological problems to resolve such as sin and those who become a law unto themselves.”

9/27/2007 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger sofyst said...

Kc, I'm curious as to whether you would still call it sin if one doesn't know the desire of God.

What if a person determines to place more value upon their own desire because they are ignorant of God's desire.

I'm sure you could say that if this happens in the situation of the Christian, then they could still be acting in faith and not sinning (I don't know what God wants here, so I am going trust that I am doing the right thing, and hope that what I want to do is not the wrong thing)...

But let us exclude from the conversation the Christian momentarily and consider the non-Christian, the one who is not familiar with God's laws or 'desires'. And let us, as I always love to do, consider the hypothetical.

It is sin to murder, undoubtably so. But what if a person desires to murder another person, and is unaware of God's desire that man shouldn't murder man. Would you still say he is sinning?

I'm sure you might. But that would make us return to a point that I am sure you have made before that if one does something ignorant of its 'sinfulness' than he is not in sin. You could of course quote Paul saying that before he knew the law he did not sin...

9/27/2007 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Adam, thank you so much for bringing this to light. I believe the scriptural answer to your question gives way to a better understanding, not only of sin, but also the purpose of the knowledge of the law and the wondrous mercy of God.

Your question addresses the specific implications of the knowledge of sin. In particular you ask if the basis of sin is our knowledge and then you allude to the fact that apart from that knowledge we are not held accountable for our sin. Romans 5:13 states, “for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. “ (NASB) From this we can see that although sin exists apart from knowledge, that apart from knowledge, we are not held accountable for it. (Also see John 9:41 and John 15:22)

This begs the question; “How then do we determine to place more value on our own desire than on God’s desire without even having any knowledge of His desire?” The sad answer is, “by our nature”. We are born with the propensity to value our own desire above all else. By nature we place more value on our own desire to glorify ourselves than on God’s desire that we give all glory and honor to Him. When even the heavens declare His glory we seek our own. Romans 1 through 3 makes it clear that those without the knowledge of the law can become a “law unto themselves” seeking their own righteous through their own judgments. There are none righteous, not even those with knowledge of the law. Romans 3:20 states, “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”

Here we see the purpose for knowledge of the law. This knowledge was not given to us to make us righteous. It was given so that we can know we are unrighteous and that regardless of how much knowledge we posses we can never be justified in His sight, even by the works of the law!

Consider now His mercy. He does not impute sin without knowledge and still men seek their own glory. He reveals unrighteousness through the law and again men seek to glorify themselves through their works and even still He gave His own Son as atonement for sin that, by faith, we could escape condemnation in Him. The power of sin is in the knowledge of the law and sin is the power of death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.

9/28/2007 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

I'm not sure murder is a good example.

Romans 2:14-16 NASB talks about how the Gentiles, who did not have the law, instinctively did the things of the law as a demonstration that the law of God was written on their hearts. Their consciences bore witness to the law, even though they never saw it. I think it's saying that the wrongness of murder is hardwired into us.

10/02/2007 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse these verses are primarily what turned me from perceiving the law as the basis for sin. I do believe that men have a depraved nature but that it is not due to a lack of morality. I fear my judgement in this but honestly some of the most ungodly people I have known also held the highest moral standards but they were merciless.

10/02/2007 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

I think we're wired to serve ourselves, not the law, nor what is right and good. Man's morality is still ultimately religious. Yet, I think the sense of good and evil is wired into us, too (from the tree of knowledge?). Our depravity is our predisposition to choose evil. That the law is written on our hearts is what leaves us without excuse before God, and with no recourse but grace.

10/03/2007 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse how would you define evil? (sorry for being so slow to respond)

10/06/2007 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Wow, that's a tougher question than it sounds. I'm not sure I'm prepared to give an answer, except to say that I think the term implies intent or predisposition. I can't say whether evil is distinct from sinfulness, but I'll keep thinking. What's you're take?

10/06/2007 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Evil is anything that is contrary to What God desires (grin).

10/06/2007 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

That works. I'll stop thinking.

10/06/2007 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger Exist~Dissolve said...

KC--

I would say that sin does not exist as if it were "something" that one does or even a "state" of being. Rather, sin is only meaningful in the discussion of the diminution of the goodness of God. In this way, sin is not something "opposed" to God as if it has existence that can be asserted over and against that of God.

Rather, sin is the negation of good and can only be spoken of in the context of the diminishing of good--it does not have a positive existence of its own.

10/08/2007 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Sort of the same way cold is merely the absence of heat, or darkness the absence of light? Hmm... interesting... but while darkness is dispelled in light's presence, and cold is inevitably diminished by the introduction of heat, would you say that the presence of God's goodness (which I would posit cannot be diminished), necessarily scatters evil? Dang, back to thinking...

10/08/2007 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

E~D I agree with Dorse. That's an interesting perspective and I think I could be persuaded that sin is not material but I'm struggling to comprehend it as non-existant. "We would hear more on this matter". ;-)

10/08/2007 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Exist~Dissolve said...

I think the non-existence of sin is philosophically necessary in light of Christian understandings of creation. That is, if God is source of all that has existence; and all that exists has been declared "good" by God; then it must be concluded that if sin exists, it must also be understood to be "good" per its location within the creative act of God.

So if this is true, why would God condemn sin? Would not God be disingenuous by 1.) declaring good that which was not and 2.) creating negative consequences for indulgence in that which is --by virture of its existence-established-goodness-- inherently in keeping with the good and pleasing will of God?

One might, of course, argue that perhaps not all of that created was good in order to imbue sin with existence and negative standing in relation to the divine being. However, this conclusion is no better, for one would have to suggest that God has freely created that which is directly antithetical to the very nature of God. In such a scenario, one would be advocating that God has created something which is actually the negation of Godself in that God, through divine freedom, creates that which is forever opposed to Godself.

Therefore, the only way in which one can speak of "sin" and still maintain the goodness of God is to speak only of sin as a diminution of divine goodness. In this way, God's goodness is eternally preserved for sin can never be spoken of something which obtains existence and exerts the same over and against the divine being, but only and ever as the diminishing of God's goodness.

10/09/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

E~D I always feel brilliant when I believe I understand genius. (hehe)

I can see that, given your premises, if sin exists it is a paradox, which therefore cannot logically be true. I believe that sin does exist and because I can find no fault in your logic I can only question your premises. ;-)

It is true that all that was created was created by God and all that God created He called good but is it true that only God can create? If God gave men creative ability then is it inconceivable that sin exists, at least in substance, consequential to man’s creative ability?

10/09/2007 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Correction:

"at least in substance" should read, "if not in substance, at least in essence".

10/09/2007 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

I tend to think it would be philosophically sound, but more correct to consider that sin is not so much the absence of the positive force (good), as it is a misuse or distortion of it.

10/09/2007 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Exist~Dissolve said...

I can see that, given your premises, if sin exists it is a paradox, which therefore cannot logically be true. I believe that sin does exist and because I can find no fault in your logic I can only question your premises. ;-)

I don't think the existence of sin would be a necessary paradox (although it would be in conventional understandings of God). After all, one could logically conceive of God creating evil as a reflection of the divine nature (being evil). In such a scenario, one could honestly say that all that God has created is "good," for that which God creates must be good. However, such an admission would require a complete redefinition of God, for I think it is a necessary conclusion that God is essentially congruent with that which God creates; therefore, to account for a substantival view of sin, one must think God capable of creating good and evil---ergo, God is good and evil.

It is true that all that was created was created by God and all that God created He called good but is it true that only God can create? If God gave men creative ability then is it inconceivable that sin exists---if not in substance, at least in essence---consequential to man’s creative ability?

I would not assert that humanity is capable of calling into being from non-being; therefore, I would deny that humanity's "creativity" is---in this way at least---commensurate with divine act. Therefore, I would still come down on the side that says sin does not have substantial existence, but only is a meaningful concept in the discussion of the diminution of divine goodness.

10/09/2007 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

I agree sin would not be a paradox apart from your premises.


If sin exists in concept then do you consider my definition would stand unopposed by your proposition seeing that our determination to value is only our own conception of what is good in the absence of what is truly good?

10/09/2007 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger Exist~Dissolve said...

If sin exists in concept then do you consider my definition would stand unopposed by your proposition seeing that our determination to value is only our own conception of what is good in the absence of what is truly good?

I actually agree with your original definition, for the elevation of a will which is opposed to that of God is precisely the diminution of good that I have been advocating. What is necessary for me is that---in this phrasing---the notion of sin not be objectified as if it is a "thing" or "act" which can be spoken of as if it possesses a determinable ontology. After all, as God is a will-ing being, to "will" is intrinsically good--therefore, the act of willing contrary to God is not itself sin; rather, I would see the concept of sin obtaining in the diminishing of the goodness of the divine will that arises from the antithetical will of the human person.

10/10/2007 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I think I understand and, if so, I agree. Could we could then say that the "act of willing" contrary to God does not define sin itself but is itself a sinful act?

10/10/2007 07:58:00 AM  

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