It’s time to talk about one of the main areas where I disagree with the Nazarene Articles of Faith (remember, this is Baptist vs Nazarene theology, round 5). And it sounds really weird to say, but I’m kind of excited to start studying this subject and get to the heart of what the Bible really says about it. So…let’s talk about SIN!
Disclaimer: This is going to take time.”Bang head on wall until morale improves” might become a regular piece of advice. The point of a study like this is to see what the text supports. Fully understanding the text is not guaranteed, but we can always get closer.
Okay. Let’s get started!
To begin, what is sin? Well, where is it first seen in the Bible…Genesis 3. Adam and Eve wanted to be like God. They got jealous of His power. They knew better. And why not? Well, they saw they were naked and began hiding things from God and pointing fingers at each other. Sin is thoughts, words, actions that separate us from God. The other great way to find out about sin is to read through the Old Testament laws – love your neighbor, the ten commandments, and more.
But this question of “What is sin?” is the real dividing factor between Nazarenes and people with a Calvinist background, like me. This is what the Nazarene Articles of Faith say about sin (emphasis mine):
5. We believe that sin came into the world through the disobedience of our first parents, and death by sin. We believe that sin is of two kinds: original sin or depravity, and actual or personal sin. 5.1. We believe that original sin, or depravity, is that corruption of the nature of all the offspring of Adam by reason of which everyone is very far gone from original righteousness or the pure state of our first parents at the time of their creation, is averse to God, is without spiritual life, and inclined to evil, and that continually. We further believe that original sin continues to exist with the new life of the regenerate, until the heart is fully cleansed by the baptism with the Holy Spirit. 5.2. We believe that original sin differs from actual sin in that it constitutes an inherited propensity to actual sin for which no one is accountable until its divinely provided remedy is neglected or rejected. 5.3. We believe that actual or personal sin is a voluntary violation of a known law of God by a morally responsible person. It is therefore not to be confused with involuntary and inescapable shortcomings, infirmities, faults, mistakes, failures, or other deviations from a standard of perfect conduct that are the residual effects of the Fall. However, such innocent effects do not include attitudes or responses contrary to the spirit of Christ, which may properly be called sins of the spirit. We believe that personal sin is primarily and essentially a violation of the law of love; and that in relation to Christ sin may be defined as unbelief.
First of all, I would agree with a lot of this. We are inclined to evil as humanity, coming straight from Adam to every man and woman and child on earth (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). What a sad origin story!
What I question in this is the fact that all sins are not equal. And that some sin is actually okay, and God excuses it. That is what I will be looking for as I study sin passages in the Bible.
In the end, it does not really matter. Like Romans 3:23 says, all have sinned and missed the mark of God’s glory. But the good news is that Romans 3:23 is not a stand-alone verse (here’s 21-25a in the International Children’s Version):
“21 But God has a way to make people right with him without the law. And God has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about. 22 God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all are the same. 23 All people have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory. 24 People are made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They are made right with God by being made free from sin through Jesus Christ. 25 God sent him to die in our place to take away our sins. We receive forgiveness through faith. And all of this is because of the blood of Jesus’ death.”
God, thank You for giving us the gift of Jesus, making us right in Him. I crumble under sin every day, point fingers like Adam and Eve, and try to hide my shame-flamed face from You. But You call me out in love and point me back in a good direction. Thank You! I need Your help every day God, and Your forgiveness. But sin does not get to win in the end, so please help me defeat battles against temptation during my days. To You be the glory! Amen!