“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8 NKJV).
Simply put, sin is “a missing of the mark.” Some synonyms used for “sin” in the Bible include disobedience, error, fault, iniquity, transgression, trespass, ungodliness, lawlessness, or unrighteousness.
The word “sin” or “sins” used in the New Testament came from three Greek words: “hamartema,” “hamartia,” and “hamartano.”
A good understanding of these Greek words is very crucial to understanding deeply what the Scripture teaches about “sin” or “sins.”
The Greek word “hamartema” which denotes “an act of disobedience to Divine law” is only used four times in the New Testament (Rom. 3:25, Mk. 3:28, 4:12, 1 Cor. 6:18).
While the Greek word “hamartano” is used more often than “hamartema,” it is the Greek word “hamartia” that is mostly used in the New Testament for “sin”.
This is very significant because the Greek word “hamartia” is a noun while “hamartano” is a verb. A noun denotes a person, place, or thing while a verb describes the action of a noun.
The most used Greek word for “sin” in the New Testament is “hamartia” and it describes sin as “a principle or source of action, or an inward element producing acts; abstract for concrete; a governing principle or power, or an organized power acting through the members of the body.”
Though the seat of “sin” is in the will, the body is the organic instrument (“the body of sin” Rom. 6:6). This governing principle or power is often personified in the Scripture (Vine Expository Dictionary).
The Greek word “hamartano” literally means “to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize);” figuratively, it means “to err, especially morally” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).
In the New Testament, the focus or emphasis is more on the principle, power or source of sin in man than on his sinful deeds or actions.
You will never experience true victory over sin if your mind, focus, or attention is primarily on overcoming or stopping the fruits, actions, or manifestations of sin rather than getting rid of the root, source, or nature of sin in your heart.
Your fight against sin is not against individual acts of sin, but against your natural inclination, inner tendency or propensity to sin. If the inherited sin nature or the innate inclination to sin in a man’s heart is destroyed or removed, then his actions of sin will cease.
Until the root of sin in your heart is uprooted, your struggle or battle against the fruits of sin in your thoughts, words, volitions, emotions, or actions are useless and ineffective.
Anyone or anything that cannot get to the root of sin or deal with the source, governing principle, or organized power of sin in your heart cannot deliver you from sin or give you victory over sin. This is a pivotal truth!
Sadly, not many people have come to realize or accept this truth about sin.
The Scripture clearly presents or teaches some truths about sin which everyone seeking deliverance from sin or victory over sin must know, understand, and apply.
What does the Scripture teach about sin?
First, the Scripture reveals and presents Satan as the author of sin:
The nature of sin is actually the nature of Satan. Satan is the father and master of all sinners.
1 John 3:
8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. (NKJV).
It was the devil who invented sin. It was the devil who pioneered disobedience or rebellion against God. It was the devil who brought sin into the earth and introduced it to the first man on earth (Isa. 14:12-14).
Therefore, every sinner is a child of the devil; for the devil is the father, author, source, or originator of sin.
The Lord Jesus confronted the unbelieving Jews with this truth.
44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (NKJV).
Apostle John also presents this truth.
1 John 3:
10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. (NKJV).
Until you believe in, confess, and surrender to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour you remain a slave of sin, a child and captive of Satan, and by nature a child of wrath (John 8:34, Acts 13:10, Matt. 13:38, Eph. 2:3).
Second, the Scripture teaches that sin entered the human race through Adam, the first man:
While Satan is the father, author, source, or originator of sin who brought sin into the earth; however, it was through Adam that sin entered the human race.
Sin entered the human race when Adam yielded to Satan, the author and father of sin, through his disobedience to God’s express command (Gen. 2:17, 3:6).
Paul aptly explains this truth.
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. (NKJV).
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (NKJV).
When Adam yielded to the devil’s voice and thus sinned against God, sin entered into his heart and corrupted his nature. All the descendants of Adam inherited sin nature from him, thereby becoming sinners by birth and nature.
It was the sin nature we inherited from Adam that makes us sinners. You are not a sinner simply because you sin, but because you were born with a sin nature (Rom. 3:10-12).
Third, the Scripture clearly teaches that sin is not imputed when there is no law:
13 For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (NKJV).
What does this scripture mean?
The understanding of the word “imputed” is very crucial to understanding this scripture.
The Greek word translated “imputed” here is “ellogeo” which is an accounting term meaning, “to reckon in; set to or put on one’s account; lay to one’s charge.”
Therefore, when the Scripture says, “sin is not imputed when there is no law” it simply means that God does not put the sin of the first man (Adam) to anyone’s account and deal with the person based on the sin of Adam until the person is mature enough (based on his knowledge of the law of God) to be held accountable for his sins.
In other words, though you were made a sinner (born with a sin nature) through Adam’s sin, yet until you grow up to a point of maturity when you have a true knowledge of God’s plan of redemption and what God requires of you, and you can make a personal decision or choice to either receive or reject Jesus Christ as your Saviour; God does not treat you or deal with you as a sinner although you are a sinner by birth and nature. What a merciful God!
Beloved, you don’t need to commit an act of sin to be a sinner; you were born a sinner – conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity (Psa. 51:5, Job 14:4, John 3:6).
You were born with an innate inclination, propensity, or tendency to sin. You don’t need any form of learning or education to think, speak or act contrary to God’s commandments, for you were born with the root of disobedience in your heart.
It is just a matter of time before the root of disobedience in your heart begins to naturally or effortlessly bear its fruits in your thoughts, wills, words, emotions, and actions (Jer. 13:23, Psa. 58:3).
But, if you surrender your corrupt heart today to Jesus Christ by believing and confessing Him as your personal Lord and Saviour, He will remove it and replace it with a new heart or spirit that has God’s holy nature.
26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (NKJV).
Discover more scriptural truths about sin in the second part of this piece!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, deliver me today from the principle or power of sin that is functional in my heart. I believe and confess Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour today and so receive a new heart like that of Christ, in Jesus’ name. Amen.