The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines sin as, ‘an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law,’ or ‘an act regarded as a serious offence.’
In English ‘sin’ is a three letter word. Although a small word, it has enormous significance for the lives of all people (Romans 3:23), and the consequences of inheriting sin through our parents from Adam are far reaching (Romans 5:14).
The atheist declares there is no sin because there is no god, but at the same time he may accept he could be wrong, and if there is a god it would be sinful to offend Him. The atheist may think he does not sin, and yet he has a problem, because he knows that when he hurts another person he is guilty of committing an act he would not want done to himself. He disobeys a moral or natural law written on his heart (Romans 2:15; James 2:8). When he breaks this moral law, if he has any conscience at all, he knows he is doing wrong. Having done wrong he may own up and apologise to the person he has wronged. He may even endeavour to put right the wrong he has done. If he stole, he might return what he stole, and he might take further steps to recompense the victim (Luke 19:8). This may alleviate some of the guilt he felt. On refection he might come to the conclusion that he wasn’t the good person he thought he was, and he should do something about it (2 Corinthians 7:10)!
It is said that psychopaths do not have a conscience. Hence they are capable of committing horrendous crimes without feeling the slightest guilt. They feel no empathy for those they have wronged or hurt. The Bible describes such people as those whose consciences has been seared (1 Timothy 4:2).
Apart from those few people who lack a conscience, the majority of us know the difference between right and wrong. We have some understanding as to what is good and what is evil. This is made possible because we are descendants of Adam who ate of ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9, 3:6).’ By eating of the fruit of the tree, the eyes of his understanding were opened to not only know what was good, but also to know what was evil (Genesis 3).
The Consequences of Sin
This is the crux of the matter – If Adam had not sinned there would have been no need of a Saviour to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and to save the elect (Mark 13:27) from hell (2 Peter 2:9).
Adam as the federal head of mankind, i.e., the representative of every single one of his offspring and their offspring, was fully responsible for his transgression against God. He knew full-well that what he did was wrong (Genesis 3:3-11). God had entrusted him to do the right thing which was to obey His single command, but he failed miserably.
Consequentially, all of his offspring would be formed in his image (Genesis 5), both male and female, as sinners (Romans 3:23). They would be like him in mind, body and soul. As Adam, they would be responsible for their own actions (1 Corinthians 15:22). The die was cast for mankind, and there would be no remedy for the removal of Adam’s sin from his offspring until the arrival of the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21; 1 Timothy 1:15).
Jesus the Remedy
Jesus came to be a propitiation (Romans 3:25), i.e., a once-for-all sin offering (Hebrews 10:10) by the shedding of His blood at Calvary to demonstrate God’s righteousness, and to be ‘the justifier of the one who has faith in’’ Him (Romans 3:25, 26).
‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).’
‘But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:17, 18).’