Monday, June 03, 2013

Two Types of Sin in the Bible

HCSB Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. 13 In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to a person’s account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression.
Sin was not in the world before Adam; it entered the world through Adam (Rom 5:12).

This sin that Adam brought into the world can exist apart from law-breaking, although this type of sin does not bring guilt (v. 13).

So in this passage we see two types of sin:
  1. a sin not like Adam's, which does not incur guilt as there is no law to be broken (condition)
  2. a sin like Adam's, a "transgression", which brings guilt for law-breaking (commission)
Both types bring death (v. 14)

Without a law to break, the sin is itself dead, powerless to bring guilt upon us.

The sin exists in our biology (by condition), and causes physical death, but until it exists in our spirit (by commission of law-breaking), it does not cause guilt, and therefore not spiritual death, until and unless there is a law broken.

HCSB Rom 7:8 And sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind. ... 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. ...  17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. ...  20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. 22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. 23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. ...  25... So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
Sin exists prior to the existence of the "coveting" ("concupiscence" in KJV), and is what produces the coveting once an anti-coveting law is established (v. 8). Paul is sold into sin's power simply by being in the flesh (v. 14). This sin operates separate and apart from his will (v. 17), and dwells in the parts of his body (vv 17, 20, 21, 23, 25).

Once again, we see that there are two types of sin:
  1. one that creates the desire to commit a sinful action, which dwells in the body (condition)
  2. one that results from the commission of a sinful action (commission)
"Sin lives in me" (7:17). When the commandment comes, sin works through the commandment that it might be recognized as sin (HCSB; "that it might appear sin" KJV - 7:13), becoming "exceeding sinful" (KJV). The breaking of the command "matures" the sin (as James mentions in 1:15), but the sin is already there, waiting to entice its victim into breaking the commandment.

HCSB James 1:13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
James says that God can not be tempted with evil, nor does he tempt any man, but that each man is tempted (with evil) from within (James 1:13-14). This indicates that "evil" exists in the human (just as Paul said in Romans 7:12 above), that it creates evil desires within the human, and that the end result of that desire is sin and death.

So in James we see:

1) evil exists in the human (condition)
2) evil within the human results in the evil action of failing to resist temptation (commission)


We have traditionally used 1 John 3:4 to define sin:
HCSB 1 John 3:4 Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law.
And that's a valid definition. But I don't believe John was intending to give an exact, exclusive definition of the term. If that's not what John intended, then we shouldn't use his words as if that is what he intended.

If John is not giving an exclusive definition here, then the above-cited passages seem to indicate that Biblically, there are two types of sin:

  1. a sin which is a condition, which we have simply by being in the flesh, which dwells in our flesh, which is inheritable, which causes physical death, but does not incur guilt and does not cause spiritual death
  2. a sin which is a commission, resulting from action (the breaking of law), which is not inheritable, which incurs guilt, and which separates us from God causing death of both the spirit and the body
Jesus, having God as his biological father, did not inherit the first type of sin, that of a condition. He was sinless, free from both from the inheritable condition of sin, and from the uninheritable commission of sin. He "has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15). "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom 8:3b-4 KJV). (Again we see that the flesh itself is "sinful", and Jesus was in that likeness, yet without sin.) But he took on those sins of ours, of both types - "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Pet 2:24 HCSB). As a result, now we, along with the creation itself, are "eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption", not just of our spirits, but of our bodies, and to be freed, along with the creation itself, "from the bondage of corruption" to which we've been unwillingly subjected (Rom 8:19-23).

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