1. Any thought, word, desire, action, or omission of action, contrary to the law of God, or defective when compared with it.
The origin of sin is a subject which baffles all investigation; and our inquiries are much better directed when we seek through Christ a release from its penalty and power, for ourselves and the world. Its entrance into the world, and infection of the whole human race, its nature, forms, and effects, and its fatal possession of every unregenerate soul, are fully described in the Bible, Ge 6:5; Ps 51:5; Mt 15:19; Ro 5:12; Jas 1:14-15.
As contrary to the nature, worship, love, and service to God, sin is called ungodliness; as a violation of the law of God and of the claims of man, it is a transgression or trespass; as a deviation from eternal rectitude, it is called iniquity or unrighteousness; as the evil and bitter root of all actual transgression, the depravity transmitted from our first parents to all their seed, it is called "original sin," or in the Bible, " the flesh," "the law of sin and death," etc., Ro 8:1-2; 1Jo 3:4; 5:17. The just penalty or "wages of sin is death;" this was threatened against the first sin, Ge 2:17 and all subsequent sins: "the soul that sinneth it shall die." A single sin, unrepented of the unforgiven, destroys the soul, as a single break renders a whole ocean cable worthless. Its guilt and evil are to be measured by the holiness, justice, and goodness of the law it violates, the eternity of the misery it causes, and the greatness of the Sacrifice necessary to expiate it.
Sin is also sometimes put for the sacrifice of expiation, the sin offering, described in Le 4:3,25,29. So, Ro 8:3 and in 2Co 5:21, Paul says that God was pleased that Jesus, who knew no sin, should be our victim of expiation: "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
For the sin against the Holy Ghost, see BLASPHEMY.
3. An ancient fortified city, called "the strength of Egypt," Eze 30:15-16. Its name means mire, and in this it agrees with Pelusium and Tineh, the Greek and modern names of the same place. It defended the northeast frontier of Egypt, and lay near the Mediterranean, of the eastern arm of the Nile. Its site, near the village of Tineh, is surrounded with morasses; and is now accessible by boat only during a high inundation, or by land in the driest part or summer. A few mounds and columns alone remain.
is "any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God" (1Jo 3:4; Ro 4:15), in the inward state and habit of the soul, as well as in the outward conduct of the life, whether by omission or commission (Ro 6:12-17; 7:5-24). It is "not a mere violation of the law of our constitution, nor of the system of things, but an offence against a personal lawgiver and moral governor who vindicates his law with penalties. The soul that sins is always conscious that his sin is (1) intrinsically vile and polluting, and (2) that it justly deserves punishment, and calls down the righteous wrath of God. Hence sin carries with it two inalienable characters, (1) ill-desert, guilt (reatus); and (2) pollution (macula).", Hodge's Outlines.
The moral character of a man's actions is determined by the moral state of his heart. The disposition to sin, or the habit of the soul that leads to the sinful act, is itself also sin (Ro 6:12-17; Ga 5:17; Jas 1:14-15).
The origin of sin is a mystery, and must for ever remain such to us. It is plain that for some reason God has permitted sin to enter this world, and that is all we know. His permitting it, however, in no way makes God the author of sin.
Adam's sin (Ge 3:1-6) consisted in his yielding to the assaults of temptation and eating the forbidden fruit. It involved in it, (1) the sin of unbelief, virtually making God a liar; and (2) the guilt of disobedience to a positive command. By this sin he became an apostate from God, a rebel in arms against his Creator. He lost the favour of God and communion with him; his whole nature became depraved, and he incurred the penalty involved in the covenant of works.
Original sin. "Our first parents being the root of all mankind, the guilt of their sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature were conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation." Adam was constituted by God the federal head and representative of all his posterity, as he was also their natural head, and therefore when he fell they fell with him (Ro 5:12-21; 1Co 15:22-45). His probation was their probation, and his fall their fall. Because of Adam's first sin all his posterity came into the world in a state of sin and condemnation, i.e., (1) a state of moral corruption, and (2) of guilt, as having judicially imputed to them the guilt of Adam's first sin.
Original sin is frequently and properly used to denote only the moral corruption of their whole nature inherited by all men from Adam. This inherited moral corruption consists in, (1) the loss of original righteousness; and (2) the presence of a constant proneness to evil, which is the root and origin of all actual sin. It is called "sin" (Ro 6:12,14,17; 7:5-17), the "flesh" (Ga 5:17,24), "lust" (Jas 1:14-15), the "body of sin" (Ro 6:6), "ignorance," "blindness of heart," "alienation from the life of God" (Eph 4:18-19). It influences and depraves the whole man, and its tendency is still downward to deeper and deeper corruption, there remaining no recuperative element in the soul. It is a total depravity, and it is also universally inherited by all the natural descendants of Adam (Ro 3:10-23; 5:12-21; 8:7). Pelagians deny original sin, and regard man as by nature morally and spiritually well; semi-Pelagians regard him as morally sick; Augustinians, or, as they are also called, Calvinists, regard man as described above, spiritually dead (Eph 2:1; 1Jo 3:14).
The doctrine of original sin is proved, (1.) From the fact of the universal sinfulness of men. "There is no man that sinneth not" (1Ki 8:46; Isa 53:6; Ps 130:3; Ro 3:19,22-23; Ga 3:22). (2.) From the total depravity of man. All men are declared to be destitute of any principle of spiritual life; man's apostasy from God is total and complete (Job 15:14-16; Ge 6:5-6). (3.) From its early manifestation (Ps 58:3; Pr 22:15). (4.) It is proved also from the necessity, absolutely and universally, of regeneration (Joh 3:3; 2Co 5:17). (5.) From the universality of death (Ro 5:12-20).
Various kinds of sin are mentioned, (1.) "Presumptuous sins," or as literally rendered, "sins with an uplifted hand", i.e., defiant acts of sin, in contrast with "errors" or "inadvertencies" (Ps 19:13). (2.) "Secret", i.e., hidden sins (Ps 19:12); sins which escape the notice of the soul. (3.) "Sin against the Holy Ghost" (q.v.), or a "sin unto death" (Mt 12:31-32; 1Jo 5:16), which amounts to a wilful rejection of grace.
Sin, a city in Egypt, called by the Greeks Pelusium, which means, as does also the Hebrew name, "clayey" or "muddy," so called from the abundance of clay found there. It is called by Ezekel (Eze 30:15) "the strength of Egypt, "thus denoting its importance as a fortified city. It has been identified with the modern Tineh, "a miry place," where its ruins are to be found. Of its boasted magnificence only four red granite columns remain, and some few fragments of others.
The teaching of the Bible with regard to the doctrine of sin may be said to involve a desire, on the part of the leaders of Jewish thought, to give a rational account of the fact, the consciousness, and the results of human error. Whatever be the conclusion arrived at respecting the compilation of the early chapters of Genesis, one thought, at least, clearly emerges: the narratives are saturated through and through with religious conceptions. Omnipotence, sovereignty, condescending active love, and perfect moral harmony, all find their place in the narratives there preserved, as attributes of the Divine character. The sublime conception of human dignity and worth is such that, in spite of all temptation to the contrary belief, it remains to-day as a firmly rooted, universally received verity, that man is made 'in the image of God' (Ge 1:27).
I. The Old Testament
1. The early narratives.
There are many different words both in the O.T. and N.T. signifying 'sin,' 'iniquity,' 'wickedness,' etc., with various shades of meaning.
1. It is important to notice the scripture definition of sin. It is 'lawlessness.' 1Jo 3:4. Hence the distinction made between 'sin' and 'transgression,' the latter being the infraction of a known command. From Adam to Moses man "had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression," yet men had sinned and died. Ro 5:14. A positive law was given to Adam, which he disobeyed; but from Adam to Moses no definite law was proclaimed, consequently there was no transgression, yet there was sin in the sense of lawlessness, and such sin as called for the deluge. The same distinction is plainly involved in Ro 4:15; "Where no law is, there is no transgression," yet there may be sin, and it is averred that "as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law." Ro 2:12.
The rendering of 1Jo 3:4, in the A.V., "sin is the transgression of the law," is a mistranslation. The Greek word is ??????, from ?, negative, and ?????, law. This word occurs fourteen times, and in this verse only is it translated in the A.V. 'transgression of the law.' In 2Co 6:14 it is 'unrighteousness,' and in eleven places it is rendered 'iniquity,' signifying any wickedness. Further, nomo" -->??????, from the same root, is translated 'without law' in '/1-Corinthians/9/21/type/noyes'>1Co 9:21; 'unlawful' in 2Pe 2:8; and 'lawless' in 1Ti 1:9. These passages clearly indicate that the meaning of 1Jo 3:4 is "Every one that practises sin, practises also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness: " that is, doing one's own will, regardless of all restraint of God and man. This applies whether there is a definite law or not, but when there is a definite law sin is also transgression.
The principal words used for 'sin' in the N.T. are ???????, ????????, ????????, to deviate from a right course: and for 'transgression,' 'transgressor,' ?????????, ?????????, ?????????, to pass by or over a boundary.
2. Sin did not originate in man, but with the devil. 1Jo 3:8. It came into the world by man, and brought in death as its penalty.
3. An important point is to distinguish between 'sin' and 'sins,' a distinction which must exist after the first entrance of the principle. The 'sins' of a man are what he actually commits, and are the ground of judgement, while also proving the man to be the servant of sin. A Christian is one whose conscience has been perfected for ever by the one sacrifice for sins; the Spirit of God has brought him into the value of that one offering, hence his sins, having been borne by Christ on the cross, will never be brought to his charge as guilt upon him by God, but if he sins there is a holy gracious dealing with him on the ground of Christ's propitiation, so that he is led to confess the sin or sins, and has the joy of forgiveness. 'Sin' as to the principle, involving the alienation of all things from God since the fall of man, and especially seen in man's evil nature, has been judicially removed from before God in the cross of Christ. God has "condemned sin in the flesh" in the sacrifice of Christ, Ro 8:3, and consequently the Spirit is given to the believer. The Lord Jesus is proclaimed as "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world" ('not sins,' as it is often quoted). He will purge heaven and earth from sin, and in result there will be new heavens and a new earth, wherein will dwell righteousness. Though Christ tasted death for every one, or everything, He is not represented as bearing the 'sins' of all: His death as regards 'sins' being qualified by the words 'of many,' 'our sins,' etc.
4. In the important passage in Ro 5:15-20, the word OFFENCE occurs. The Greek is ?????????, from 'to fall off or away.' It is used for Adam's fall or sin, and God's free gift is in respect of many sins. "The law entered that the offence might abound," that is, that the offensiveness or heinousness of sin might be made manifest. The same word is translated 'fall, fault, trespass, and sin.'
City in Egypt: the LXX has ???>?, and the Vulgate (as in the margin), Pelusium. Ezekiel calls it 'the strength of Egypt.' Eze 30:15-16. It is supposed to be identified with the modern Tineh, where a few ruins are found. It is close to the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile, about 31 4' N, 32 28' E.
a city of Egypt, mentioned only by Ezekiel.
The name is Hebrew, or at least Semitic, perhaps signifying clay. It is identified in the Vulgate with Pelusium, "the clayey or muddy" town. Its antiquity may perhaps be inferred from the mention of "the wilderness of Sin" in the journeys of the Israelites.
Ezekiel speaks of Sin as "Sin the strongholds of Egypt."
This place was held by Egypt from that time until the period of the Romans. Herodotus relates that Sennacherib advanced against Pelusium, and that near Pelusium Cambyses defeated Psammenitus. In like manner the decisive battle in which Ochus defeated the last native king, Nectanebes, was fought near this city.
SIN, the transgression of the law, or want of conformity to the will of God, 1Jo 3:4. Original sin is that whereby our whole nature is corrupted, and rendered contrary to the nature and law of God; or, according to he ninth article of the church of England, "It is that whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is, of his own nature, inclined to evil." This is sometimes called, "indwelling sin," Romans 7. The imputation of the sin of Adam to his posterity, is also what divines call, with some latitude of expression, original sin. Actual sin is a direct violation of God's law, and generally applied to those who are capable of committing moral evil; as opposed to idiots or children, who have not the right use of their powers. Sins of omission consist in leaving those things undone which ought to be done. Sins of commission are those which are committed against affirmative precepts, or doing what should not be done. Sins of infirmity are those which arise from ignorance, surprise, &c. Secret sins are those committed in secret, or those of which, through blindness or prejudice, we do not see the evil, Ps 19:7-12. Presumptuous sins are those which are done boldly against light and conviction. The unpardonable sin is, according to some, the ascribing to the devil the miracles which Christ wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost. This sin, or blasphemy, as it should rather be called, many scribes and Pharisees were guilty of, who, beholding our Lord do his miracles, affirmed that he wrought them by Beelzebub, the prince of devils, which was, in effect, calling the Holy Ghost Satan, a most horrible blasphemy; and, as on this ground they rejected Christ, and salvation by him, their sin could certainly have no forgiveness. Mr 3:29-30. No one therefore could be guilty of this blasphemy, except those who were spectators of Christ's miracles. There is, however, another view of this unpardonable offence, which deserves consideration: The sin or blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, says Bishop Tomline, is mentioned in the first three Gospels. It appears that all the three evangelists agree in representing the sin or blasphemy against the Holy Ghost as a crime which would not be forgiven; but no one of them affirms that those who had ascribed Christ's power of casting out devils to Beelzebub, had been guilty of that sin, and in St. Luke it is not mentioned that any such charge had been made. Our Saviour, according to the account in St. Matthew and St. Mark, endeavoured to convince the Jews of their error; but so far from accusing them of having committed an unpardonable sin in what they had said concerning him, he declares that "whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him;" that is, whatever reproaches men may utter against the Son of man during his ministry, however they may calumniate the authority upon which he acts, it is still possible that hereafter they may repent and believe, and all their sins may be forgiven them; but the reviling of the Holy Ghost is described as an offence of a far more heinous nature: "The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men." "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness." "Unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven." It is plain that this sin against the Holy Ghost could not be committed while our Saviour was upon earth, since he always speaks of the Holy Ghost as not being to come till after his ascension into heaven. A few days after that great event, the descent of the Holy Ghost enabled the Apostles to work miracles, and communicated to them a variety of other supernatural gifts. If men should ascribe these powers to Beelzebub, or in any respect reject their authority, they would blaspheme the Holy Ghost, from whom they were derived; and that sin would be unpardonable, because this was the completion of the evidence of the divine authority of Christ and his religion; and they who rejected these last means of conviction, could have no other opportunity of being brought to faith in Christ, the only appointed condition of pardon and forgiveness. The greater heinousness of the sin of these men would consist in their rejecting a greater body of testimony; for they are supposed to be acquainted with the resurrection of our Saviour from the dead, with his ascension into heaven, with the miraculous descent of the Holy Ghost, and with the supernatural powers which it communicated; circumstances, all of which were enforced by the Apostles when they preached the Gospel; but none of which could be known to those who refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah during his actual ministry. Though this was a great sin, it was not an unpardonable one, it might be remedied by subsequent belief, by yielding to subsequent testimony. But, on the other hand, they who finally rejected the accumulated and complete evidence of Jesus being the Messiah, as exhibited by the inspired Apostles, precluded themselves from the possibility of conviction, because no farther testimony would be afforded them, and consequently, there being no means of repentance, they would be incapable of forgiveness and redemption. Hence it appears that the sin against the Holy Ghost consisted in finally rejecting the Gospel as preached by the Apostles, who confirmed the truth of the doctrine which they taught "by signs and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost," Heb 2:4. It was unpardonable, because this was the consummation of the proofs afforded to the men of that generation of the divine mission of Christ. This sin was manifestly distinct from all other sins; it indicated an invincible obstinacy of mind, an impious and unalterable determination to refuse the offered mercy of God. It would appear from this, that those only committed or could commit this irremissible offence, who were witnesses of the mighty works wrought by the Holy Spirit in the Apostles after Christ's ascension and the day of pentecost. Our Lord's declaration appears chiefly to respect the Jews.
This view will serve to explain those passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in which the hopeless case of Jewish apostates is described. But See BLASPHEMY.