No agency has done more to wipe out the significance of “sin” than Christianity with fundamentalists relegating sin to a list of behavioral does and don’ts and liberals updating what constitutes allowable social interactions from Puritanical or Victorian restrictions.
“sin is the transgression of the law.” (I John 3:4)
The essential problem with transgressing God’s laws is that these are not, as some people claim, legal restrictions or arbitrary rules established by certain cultures which change over time as circumstances change.
God’s laws are natural laws, like gravity, established when he designed the universe. “A phenomenon of nature that has been proven to invariably occur whenever certain conditions exist or are met.”
We understand this process in the material world physics that we can observe, but this also applies to social and spiritual domains that are more or less hidden. Can we not extrapolate the same point of view that human actions within these domains cannot break these laws without causing chaos and inevitable destruction. Conflict within the social domain is an obvious result of breaking social contracts, is it not?
Unless counteracted, unchecked transgressions of established rights and natural boundaries protecting the various elements of Creation results in ever-spreading chaos and ultimate utter destruction. Current scientists are saying exactly the same thing. We humans are destroying our ecology, our social interdependency, our ability to survive as a civilization and even our own selves through our refusal to sacrifice our self-indulgence to promote the welfare and sheer existence of our interdependent social and physically sustaining world.
This is sin, a disruption in the “right-ness” of that person’s relationship / connection to Creator/Sustainer God and others, which spreads and contaminates every dimension, not just moral. Anyone who has experienced a relationship breakdown should be able to personalize this concept to their own life. There is much more than a cessation of relationship with the ex-spouse – there is loss of time and experiences with children during split custody, loss of financial security, loss of shared friends, loss of a home, and it goes on and on, loss of emotional stability, loss of physical health. Then there are the effects felt by the children, and family members, and friends, and school associates, and work colleagues, and…
The documentation of the first known occasion of sin committed by Lucifer provides a thesaurus of other words for sin.
- lifted up [with pride]
- defiled (Ezekiel 28:12-18)
The most basic definition of sin is making oneself the authority over the Singularity / Creator.
“How art thou fallen…For thou hast said in thine heart…I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)
We defy God’s authority when we imagine that we can escape from the restrictions outlined in God’s laws. We selectively obey the parts we like and revise the rest. This is how the serpent tempted the woman in the Garden of Eden to break away from God’s authority.
Every reference in the Bible to “law” is not about the law of Moses. Long before God made a particular covenant with the descendants of Jacob / nation of Israel there were basic laws of holiness – perfection in relationship.
“after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil…For there is no respect of persons with God. For when the Gentiles…do by nature the things contained in the law…shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” (Romans 2:14-15)
These are built into human conscience with at least the common sense awareness that trouble will follow misbehavior.
- Cain knew that it was a sin to murder. (Genesis 4:8-9)
- Ham knew it was a sin to watch pornography and exploit the vulnerable. (Genesis 9:20-25)
- Pharaoh knew it was a sin to take another man’s wife. (Genesis 12:9-19)
God responded to Lucifer’s sin by decreeing destruction by fire.
“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41)
This was not out of petty revenge, but to cauterize the damage. No doubt, if not contained, Lucifer is powerful and spiteful enough to generate a world-destroying black hole.
And no doubt Lucifer expected the same fate to befall humans. But because humans are mortal, changeable, we have the option of being restored to our original condition – being in a right relationship with God, i.e. righteous.