The World’s Trouble: Chapter 2
You and I breathe the air of relativism daily. That is a fancy term that basically means there is no universal standard of right and wrong. Morality is discussed this way in the classroom, textbooks, news editorials, and talk shows. It sounds intellectual and informed to talk this way, but you really cannot live this way.
You believe in fixed meaning and right and wrong when it comes to your bank account. You believe in fixed meaning and right and wrong when you sign a contract to buy or sell a house. You also believe in right and wrong and fixed meaning when it comes to whether or not your spouse cheated on you. At best we are perpetrating a double standard when we philosophize about moral relativity but demand the bank teller put the exact amount deposited into our account and not keep some or all for himself.
We do live our lives in terms of right and wrong, but we are often arbitrary and inconsistent in applying a standard of right and wrong. The Bible reveals a fixed standard of right and wrong that is the timeless revelation of God’s will. The world will be judged by God’s fixed standard.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
– Revelation 20:12
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
– Daniel 7:10
There is standard of measure for our lives and we need to know what God says about sin. First we want to consider sin by definition, or technically. Our English Bible uses several different words, e.g. sin, transgress, trespass, fault, etc. These words have a range of meaning and are used to translate the various words from the Hebrew or Greek. The most common word for sin though is a word that means to miss the mark. It assumes a target or a standard that is missed.
The standard is God’s law as revealed in the Bible so that sin can be defined as breaking God’s law. If the law says, “Don’t do this,” and we do it, it is sin. If the law says, “Do this,” and we don’t do it, it is sin. If we took a poll of a group of people and asked them what the Bible taught sin was, they would probably say things like murder, adultery, theft, and lying.
The Bible makes a number of broad statements about sin, which all assume a standard that is violated.
All unrighteousness is sin
– 1 John 5:17a
And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
– Romans 14:23
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
– James 4:17
The thought of foolishness is sin
– Proverbs 24:9a
An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.
– Proverbs 21:4
Sin mentioned in some of those verses seems obviously defined but not as much so in the others. For instance, unrighteousness and not doing known good are easily seen as sin. But what about eating in doubt, or foolishness, or plowing? How are those things sin? To answer that question, we must move beyond a technical definition for sin and look at it more ultimately.
This is a portion of a book that I have been writing. I have decided to post it here in serial form. It is intended to be evangelistic. If the book has merit, I may seek to publish it in some form. Please feel free to share it and I welcome any feedback.