—Treasure Beyond Measure

What is Sin?

I think that the topic of this paper is one of the most important to understand of all biblical topics. What exactly is sin, and what are we supposed to do about it? I pray and hope that I am able to help you my dear reader, in the understanding of these and other related questions. I believe that knowledge of our enemy can be of great assistance in defeating it. I am like a scout that goes out before the body and reconnoiters the enemy in the hope that such knowledge will aid you in formulating a successful campaign against it. We are at war here. We must fight for our lives. Sin desires to take your life and you must defeat it.

Genesis 4:6-7

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. (NIV84)

This is such an interesting passage. Sin has a will, and sin's will is to have you in its clutches. I find that pretty interesting and I hope that you do to. This passage is so very important that I think that it is imperative that we look at the whole passage to see just what is going on here.

Genesis 4:2-15

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

10 The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."

13 Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."

15 But the LORD said to him, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. (NIV84)

It is so easy to put labels on people and then dismiss them. Cain is Bad, and Abel is Good. Cain killed his brother, (and that is Bad), and I have not, so I am good. I am not like Cain. I am like Abel. The labels are so easily placed and now we feel secure. If I were a lazy lousy scout I'd leave it at that, but I am not a lazy lousy scout. I'm a diligent scout, and I look for the weaknesses in the enemy's defenses and then I come back to guide you along the way. Forget the simple-minded labels and look at what Cain did to bring the correction from God. It wasn't the murder of his brother that brought the warning. Cain received the warning before his slew Abel.

So, I ask you, what exactly did Cain do that brought him a warning from God? Now if you want to put a label on yourself saying that you are not like Cain you must know exactly what Cain did, and did not do. If you don't know what he did, you might find that you are also guilty of the same thing. Cain was guilty of something, and God warned him because of it, but he didn't heed the warning and so he was cast out of his relationship with God. Now would be a very good time for you to reread Genesis 4:2-7.

We see that both Abel and Cain gave God a present. Now I know that it says that they gave him an "offering," but that is just a fancy way of saying that they gave him a present. When you say that you gave God an offering it sounds so religious, but in fact, it wasn't religious at all. They just both gave God a present.

Before we move on let us put this "offering" business into perspective. The Bible frequently uses "religious" words to hide the simple truth from the "proud" and make things easily understood by the plain people that will just listen to God and believe. A relationship with God does not take exceptional intelligence. Pride is the Faith killer.

To see the truth behind what Genesis 4:2-7 says we need to strip out the fancy wording and just look at what is going on. But, before we do that, let us look at something more close to home. If you are a parent you will easily see what I am going to show you. If you are not then you will have to imagine, but I know that you can, if you want to.

Suppose your small child goes off to school and makes one of those clay-hand-impression things and then writes his or her name on the back along with the year of manufacture and then gives it to you as an "offering" of love. (Do you see how silly the word "offering" sounds in this context? Well, it is nonetheless exactly what happened in Genesis 4:2-4.) Both Abel and Cain gave God a present. Abel gave out of his love for God and Cain gave out of obligation. It is just as simple as that. The passage says that, "...Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock." Abel gave God something that he valued. Abel valued God and gave him a gift that was proportional with his affections for God. Cain gave God some stuff.

Look at it this way...if Abel and Cain were automobile restorers then we would see Abel giving God a fully restored classic car that Abel thought was cool, and Cain giving God a car that he didn't really care about. I hope that you can see what I am saying here.

Looking back at the clay-hand-impression gift simile we can understand that the value of the gift is not in its intrinsic value, that is, its museum value or marketable value, but rather in its expression of love. In other words, the value is equal to the value set by the giver. Now my friend, it's not that hard to understand what I am saying here. If anyone's love for you is so great that they will give you something that they value greatly as a gift of love, you receive that gift with favor--right? yes, that's right! It is the love that you receive and not really the gift at all.

So, Abel gave God a gift out of the Love that he had for God, and God received it with joy. Cain gave out of obligation and God wasn't interested in it. This is really pretty simple stuff; don't you think?

What we see in this story about Abel and Cain, is that Abel had a relationship of love for God and Cain did not. We see from the text that God warned Cain that because of his attitude, sin is at the door and its desire is for him. Notice if you will, that sin is at the door and Cain had not yet committed sin. Cain had unlocked the door to sin and was near enough to open the door.

Clearly Cain did then open the door to sin and sin rushed in and infected him. Let us now explore sin.

The Nature of Sin

Sin is like...

Sin is like being uprooted

The effect of sin is like pulling a plant up out of the ground so that its roots are dangling in the air. Sin's effect in this way is immediate, but time must pass before its effect can be you see this? If you do pull a plant up out of the ground it will shrivel and die, but on the other hand, if you replant it in the rich soil, before too much time has passed, it can be restored. If you wait until the plant is fully dead, then reinserting it in the soil will do no good. This image might seem rather elementary to you, but its application regarding sin is not so well understood, so please bear with me as I continue.

In this parable man is the plant and God is the rich soil. If a person is rooted out of God, because of sin's presence, we can say that the person is dead, (at the uprooting) and the effect will be seen later. So long as the person has animal life, that is, their heart is beating and they are breathing, that person can be "replanted" into the rich soil, that is, back into God and live again. If the person dies the physical death in an uprooted state then that person has died the second death and cannot be restored--ever.

Image of death

Revelation 20:14

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. (NIV84)

The first death is the being uprooted, the second death is the eternal death of having died the physical death in the uprooted state.

Image of life

Psalm 1:3

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (NIV84)

This Scripture is talking about the person that has by faith been reinserted into the Life-Sustaining Soil, that is, back into God. Now, it is very important to understand that the Bible almost always is talking about the spirit within man and not the body. Because of Sin our bodies' are dead. Our bodies cannot be saved. Our bodies are toast. But you, I don't care who you are, are not a body. You are a spirit being, (just like God), and that invisible spirit being is hidden within a human body. If you don't understand this then the Bible will remain a mystery to you. The Bible speaks of the inner-spirit-man and to the inner man, and not of the flesh. So, the above passage about the tree planted by streams of water is not talking about earthly prosperity, or earthly health or earthly anything! It is talking about the spirit-person that is reinserted into the life-sustaining God.

The effect of sin is to uproot, or disconnect, your spirit person from God. Stay tuned for more on this.

Sin is like...

Sin is like a cancer

Sin is like a cancer. (Now remember that we are using Frame of Reference imagery to reveal spiritual truths, so work with me in this.) Cancer in the flesh eats away at your body, piece by piece, until you are eaten alive by it. Not a pretty picture I know, but realistic though. Cancer's effect on the flesh mirrors sin's effect on the inner-spirit-man. Sin's effect on the inner-man is to eat away at the God-likeness until godly love is gone. Sin eats away at ", joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23 '(NIV84) This passage speaks of the fruit of God's Spirit within a man, that is, that which grows as a result of being connected to God, and sin separates us from God, so ...therefore, sin eats away at everything that is godly, that is, good. So, the result is that ", joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control" diminish in those that are 'sick' with sin. Please take the time to really look at the listed qualities and reflect upon what this means. This is very important. Sin does not eat away at fun, excitement, thrill, pleasure, stature, influence, comfort and many many other earthly perks. Because of this the cancer of sin goes frequently undiagnosed.

Sin is like...

Sin is like a drug

Sin is a narcotic. Sin is perceived as extremely pleasurable by the body, so its long-range effects are masked in almost exactly the same way that drug's long-term effects are masked by their short-term pleasures. Most people are addicted to sin. Most people hide from the pain of their existence by frequent "doses" of sin. You might think that I am being funny or silly here, or that I am over-the-top, but I am not. I am completely serious in this. Most people are drug addicts and their drug of choice is sin! Yikes! They use sin to bring them moments of pleasurable sensation. They indulge in the momentary pleasure of sin to comfort themselves and to cloud the awareness of their loneliness. This loneliness is the feeling that comes from the subconscious because they are cutoff from God, that is, they feel the true effect of sin but don't know it for what it is. They don't know any of this, so they don't know how to make it go away, so they medicate the feeling with earthly distractions.

I know that it is tempting to medicate loneliness with earthly distractions, that is, sinful pleasures, but it isn't the wise thing to do, anymore than taking drugs makes one's lot in life more endurable. In the end Sin, like any other drug, will get you if you use it.

Sin is like...

Sin is like a fire within a forest

Isaiah 7:2

Now the house of David was told, "Aram has allied itself with Ephraim"; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. (NIV84)

The image in this simile is that the people are like trees within a forest. Sin is like a fire within a tree. A tree that has been uprooted is dry and will burst into flames.

Ezekiel 28:18

By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. (NIV84)

This passage is talking about Satan. If you are not familiar with this passage you will probably need to read the whole chapter to see that this is so. God is speaking here of sin and its effect on Satan. God made Satan (and us) in such a way that He (God) is the Life Sustaining Force that keeps us healthy. Without faith sin becomes a fire that burns from within. This passage is saying that sin will utterly and completely and totally consume Satan (and/or us) over time. My friend, you can't fight the fire of sin and win. Sin will consume anyone under its power.

What causes sin?

What is sin?

Sin as it turns out is something very simple, but like all simple spiritual things, can easily be misunderstood. When I tell you what sin is please don't jump to conclusions with respect to what I said. Listen to all of what I have to say--okay?

Sin is really nothing at all! Please let me explain. Sin is the absence of something and not really something in its own right. This might sound a little confusing at first but as it turns out we deal with this sort of thing all the time, but usually just don't think about. Think of light and dark. Does dark really exist? or is it really just the absence of light? That is right, there is nothing that makes up dark. Dark is not a force, nor is it an energy, it is just what you have when you take away the light.

Hot and cold are really the same. If you remove all of the heat an object is said to be cold.

Well sin is not really anything either. Sin is what you get when you remove the faith. Faith is a strong spiritual force. Faith is something. Faith is not a physical force, but can work in the physical universe nonetheless.

Now this really shouldn't be a surprise to you. Remember above when I said that sin is like a plant that was pulled up out of the rich soil? The plant dies because of what it is denied and not because of something that it was given. Right? Yes.

God is the Source of Life, that is, he is the Sustainer of All Life. When you are disconnected from the Source you will wither and die. The event that disconnects a person from God is a disobedient or faithless act or attitude.

Now my friend let us go back to looking at Abel and Cain. The last thing we saw was that God had warned Cain that because of his attitude sin was crouching at the door and its desire was for Cain. We then saw him open the door to sin and sin infected him. We have examined the nature of sin and have seen that sin is deceitful, addictive and quite deadly. When Cain opened the door to sin, sin rushed in to his heart and sin did the very thing to Cain that God warned him about, that is, it rushed in and mastered him, that is, it killed him spiritually.

The Cure for Sin

As I have described the effect of sin to be like a plant that has been uprooted from the rich soil, so it follows that the cure is like being replanted into the rich soil. The rich soil represents God, and the only cure for the deadliness of sin is to be reconnected to the Sustainer, that is, God. But, can a plant replant itself? If a person breaks the faith bond with God can that person restore the faith between them and God? Is it possible to restore broken faith?

My friend, unless faith can be restored between you and God there is no hope for you. A relationship with God is a relationship of faith. A relationship with God is your life.

It is easy for me to write that a relationship with God is a relationship of faith, but do you know what a relationship of faith is? Actually what is required is even closer than a relationship of faith. The best description that I can give it is that it is a Union of Faith. A relationship of faith is that which exists between a good mother and her young children, (a father too if all is well). But the required union with God is even closer than that! The required union with God is as close as a union can be between two beings.

The union that is closer than a mother/child relationship is that of a man/woman union of marriage. Does this surprise you? To look at the world today you might think that what I am saying isn't true, but it's always a mistake to look at the world for confirmation for anything. The union of human marriage is a union of faith, (just like the union with God).

Ephesians 5:31-32

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. (NIV84)

I have quoted this passage several times in my articles because it is so very important. My friend, the holiness, purity, and resolution that you bring to your spouse is exactly the same as that which you will show towards God.

Malachi 2:13-16

Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

15 Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.

16 "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty.

So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith. (NIV84)

My friend, if you are faithless in your human marriage you are faithless toward God also and this will result in your being rejected. Yikes!

Before we move on it is necessary that I say another thing concerning divorce. If you are currently divorced that doesn't mean that you cannot be forgiven and establish a firm union of faith with God through Jesus Christ. Everyone makes huge mistakes. Everyone. The thing that you should do is to repent of your faithless ways and truly and fully commit yourselves to God. Do not break faith with God for any reason! If you are remarried then be totally and completely faithful to your new spouse. Don't make the same mistake again. If you repent of unfaithfulness and totally serve the Lord you will be accepted. Also, you can't stop your spouse from divorcing you. YOU must remain spotless, pure and holy. YOU must treat your marriage partner as a holy participant in your union. The last thing I want to say is that if your spouse abuses you, or your children, or in any other way demonstrates that he or she has fully broken the bond of faith then God will not hold you to that marriage. In that case your evil partner has broken the faith bond and will suffer the consequences for his or her actions. You cannot make your partner be good.

That said let us move on.

We saw that it was the breaking of faith that severed our connection to God. God is the life sustaining force. To break the faith bond with God is to be uprooted from the nourishing sustenance.

Now, Jesus Christ holds the key to the restoration of your faith-bond with God. What happened was this. Man broke faith with God and was as a result separated from God forever. There wasn't any way that God could reunite himself with a "sinner." This was a legal matter. I'm not going to go into everything about Satan and the fallen angels. I will say that God is just and God couldn't forgive man's faithless act without forgiving the faithless act of Satan and his angels.

2 Samuel 14:14

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. (NIV84)

This Scripture explains the situation perfectly. We sinned and we must die. But, (did you notice that the passage above says 'but'?) God devises ways so that a banished person, (you and me,) may not remain estranged from him.

God made a plan that would fix the broken faith problem. He sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, that is, not guilty of the hereditary sin of Adam, to live a sinless life before God and the angels. Again, I have talked about the intimate details of Jesus and the cross and resurrection in detail in other papers so I don't want to say it all again in this paper. I will say however that Jesus Christ lived a completely obedient and sinless life, that is a life of complete faithfulness toward God, and Satan was fooled into killing him for sins that he didn't commit, which legally allowed Jesus to take from Satan the keys to death. (I know that the last sentence is vague, but many whole books have been written to explain just that one sentence.) Anyway, Jesus was illegally killed by Satan and when the Judgment was made by the Judge, (God the Father), it was found that death did not have dominion over Jesus Christ and so he came back to life, (the resurrection.) So, Jesus was once dead, but now having defeated death, was found to be righteous and as a result he was restored to the throne in heaven.

That is fine for Jesus, but what about us. We have committed sin and death therefore does have dominion over us. Right? Yes this is right. We cannot be reconnected by faith to God the Father. But, God made a loophole. We can be united to Jesus Christ by faith and as a result share in HIS resurrection.

The Scriptures present Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom, and those that unite to him in the marriage-like union of faith are called the Bride of Christ. (For more on this please read my paper, The Bride of Christ).

Jesus Christ, in obedience to the will of God, endured the horrors of the crucifixion willingly so that you might believe his willingness to have you back. Jesus did that for you. He endured the pain and humiliation of crucifixion so that you could believe that he wants you. God is showing you his commitment of faith, and you should acknowledge God's commitment and believe in it. Then, after acknowledging God's commitment to you, you should then commit yourself to God with the same level of determination.

I'll tell you something that just makes me sick. I hate the saying, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." May God spit you out, you who don't repent of such blasphemous folly! Jesus suffered crucifixion to show you the level of commitment that is required of you. Jesus showed you his faith in you by his willingness to suffer crucifixion, and do you really think that anything less than your complete faithful commitment to him is enough? Get real! I mean just think about it! Think about this my friend. Jesus shows his faith and commitment and you show yours. This is a marriage. If you want to be Jesus' wife don't you think that maybe a little holiness and purity is required, that is, faithfulness to him? This is all so very easy to see, and yet, so many people look the other way. Look at this passage that speaks of the church of our day.

Revelation 3:15-16

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (NIV84)

I will say this as plainly as I can so that there will be no misunderstanding; the degree of commitment that you have toward Jesus Christ is proportional to his commitment to you. If you are fully committed then he is fully committed. The realization of this statement will transform your life.

It has been my hope that I could convey to you just what sin is, and how to defeat it. Sin is the result of broken faith toward God, and only through our spiritual Bridegroom can the Faith Bridge be restored. It is up to you what you do with this information. Please consider all of this and make the wise decision. Abandon your relationship of sin and fully embrace a relationship of love and faith for God through Jesus Christ our Savior.


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