Jesus came to redeem us from the consequences of the fall – Part 6
The most notable advancement in the NT view of sin is the fact that sin is defined against the backdrop of Jesus as the standard for righteousness. His life exemplifies perfection. The exalted purity of His life creates the norm for judging what is sinful.
In the NT sin also is viewed as a lack of fellowship with God. The ideal life is one of fellowship with God. Anything that disturbs or distorts this fellowship is sin.
The NT view of sin is somewhat more subjective than objective. Jesus taught quite forcefully that sin is a condition of the heart. He traced sin directly to inner motives stating that the sinful thought leading to the overt act is the real sin. The outward deed is actually the fruit of sin. Anger in the heart is the same as murder (Matt. 5:21-22). The impure look is tantamount to adultery (Matt. 5:27-28). The real defilement in a person stems from the inner person (heart), which is sinful (Matt. 15:18-20). Sin, therefore, is understood as involving the essential being of a person, that is, the essential essence of human nature.
The NT interprets sin as “unbelief.” However, unbelief is not just the rejection of a dogma or a creed. Rather, it is the rejection of that spiritual light, which has been revealed in Jesus Christ. Or, from another perspective, unbelief is the rejection of the supreme revelation as it is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Unbelief is resistance to the truth of God revealed by the Spirit of God and produces moral and spiritual blindness. The outcome of such rejection is judgment. The only criterion for judgment is whether or not one has accepted or rejected the revelation of God as found in Jesus Christ (John 3: 18-19; 16:8-16).
The NT further pictures sin as being revealed by the law of Moses. The law was preparatory, and its function was to point to Christ. The law revealed sin in its true character, but this only aroused in humanity a desire to experience the forbidden fruit of sin. The law as such is not bad, but humanity simply does not have the ability to keep the law. Therefore, the law offers no means of salvation; rather, it leaves humanity with a deep sense of sin and guilt (Rom. 7). The law, therefore, serves to bring sin into bold relief, so that it is clearly perceptible.
The most common NT word for sin is hamartia (see above). Parabasis, “trespass” or “transgression,” literally, means to step across the line. One who steps over a property line has trespassed on another person’s land; the person who steps across God’s standard of righteousness has committed a trespass or transgression.
Anomia means “lawlessness” or “iniquity” and is a rather general description of sinful acts, referring to almost any action in opposition to God’s standard of righteousness. Poneria, “evil” or “wickedness,” is even more inclusive than anomia. Adikia, “unrighteousness,” is just the opposite of righteous. In forensic contexts outside the NT, it described one who was on the wrong side of the law.
Akatharsia, “uncleanness” or “impurity,” was a cultic word used to describe anything, which could cause cultic impurity. It was used quite often to describe vicious acts or sexual sins. Apistia, “unbelief,” literally refers to a lack of faith. To refuse to accept the truth of God by faith is to sin. Hence any action, which can be construed as unfaithful or any disposition, which is marked by a lack of faith is sinful.
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