The Dynamics of the|
By E.H. Jack Sequeira
Since the gospel is Gods power to save men from sin, it is important that we begin our study with a brief outline of the sin problem before we turn to its solution which God has prepared for us in Christ.
It is only against the background of mans total sinfulness and depravity that the gospel of Christ becomes meaningful. The gospel, when accepted and applied to our lives, may be defined by the formula: Not I, but Christ [Galatians 2:20]. This formula is expressed in the New Testament in various ways [1 Corinthians 15:10; Philippians 3:3, 8-9].
The most difficult part of this formula when it comes to its practical application is the first half, Not I. The reason for this is because we fallen sinful human beings are born ego-centric or self-centered, and naturally want to live indepentant of God [Romans 1:20-23]. A true understanding of the sin problem is the only sure way of destroying all confidence in self and turning to Christ as our only righteousness, hope, and surety. The following is a brief history and analysis of the sin problem.
While sin originated in the mind of Lucifer in heaven, it was never allowed to develop in heaven. It was on this earth that Satan and his angels developed sin. Let us see how this was done:
Using man as his tool, Satan has developed a kingdom (the Bible refers to it as the kingdom of this world) that is based entirely on the principle of self and which is in complete opposition and contradiction to the kingdom of heaven. Everything, therefore, that goes to make up this worldly system (kosmos) nationalism, tribalism, politics, education, commerce, recreation, sports, social clubs, technology, etc. is founded upon the principle of love of self, even though at times this principle may not be obvious. According to 1 John2:16, all that is in the world (i.e., without exception) is based or founded upon lust (i.e., love of self).
In the New Testament and especially in the book of Revelation the term Babylon is used as a symbol to represent the spiritual kingdom of this world which is under Satan and is in opposition to Gods kingdom and His people [Revelation 14:8, 17:3-6; 18:1-3]. The basis of this symbol is founded in literal Babylon of the Old Testament, the capital of the once-greatest empire this world has ever known [read Daniel 2]. According to Dan. 4:30, the great city of Babylon was built on the principle of self-love and, therefore, represents a fitting symbol of Satans kingdom. In contrast, Jerusalem, which represents Christs kingdom, is from above and is called the holy city [Galatians 4:26; Revelation 21:10].
Because Satan is a liar and a deceiver there is much of this world that appears to be good (this is especially designed to be a trap for Christians), but at the end of the world, when Satan will be completely exposed, it will be seen that the whole world (good and bad) worships the dragon that deceived the whole world [Revelation 12:9; 13:3-4]. God has allowed Satan to have his own way and develop sin in this world for some 6,000 years. But the time has come when Satan and his kingdom must be exposed and destroyed forever [2 Peter 3:10-13; Psalm 92:7-9].
But for the fallen human race, held in captivity by Satan, God has made a way of escape [2 Peter 3:9]. This is the Good News of the gospel which He wants all to know and receive. According to Matthew 25:34, God has prepared the heavenly kingdom for men from the foundation of the world, while verse 41 indicates that the destroying fires of hell have been prepared only for the devil and his angels. According to John 3:16, God so loved the world [the human race] that he gave his only begotten Son, so that none may perish, but instead all may have eternal life. Those who respond in faith to Gods love manifested in the gift of His Son will experience the deliverence from the condemnation which is resting on Satan and his kingdom [Romans 8:1; John 5:24].
Before we can proceed to study the gospel it would be well to define sin more fully so that the good news of salvation will be meaningful to us. The Bible uses some 12 different words to define sin; but putting these together we may categorize sin into three basic concepts. These three are all expressed in Ps. 51:2-3. They are: iniquity, sin, and transgression. We will consider each one of them separately.
The root meaning of this word is to be bent. As used in Scripture it refers to our spiritual condition. Note the following texts:
Iniquity, therefore, is simply seeking our own way, a condition we are born with and which (without a Saviour) makes it impossible to do genuine righteousness, since the law of God requires even our motives to be pure [Matthew 5:20-22, 27-28]. In contrast to iniquity or self-seeking is agape (divine love) which is of God and which “seeketh not her own” [1 Corinthians 13:5]. Our next study will cover this in greater detail.
Once we understand the true meaning of iniquity we will realize that nothing good dwells in us [Romans 7:18] and we will begin to “hunger and thirst” after the righteousness of Christ so freely offered to us in the gospel.
The actual meaning of this word is “missing the mark.” In Judges 20:16 the Hebrew word sin (translated in the KJV as “not miss”) is used true to its meaning. Used in a spiritual sense, sin is missing the divine mark or coming “short of the glory of God,” which is His selfless love or agape [Romans 3:23].
Since all men are born spiritually “bent” (shapen in iniquity), it is not difficult to see what Romans 3:10, 12 says: there is none righteous and no one who does good. Man’s sinful condition makes it impossible for him to do anything but sin, unless he has a Savior. That is why the gospel is man’s only hope of salvation. While man does have a free will to choose between accepting Christ’s righteousness offered in the gospel or rejecting it, he does not have a choice between doing sin or geniune righteousness. Man is born a slave to sin and no matter how hard he wills or tries, he will fall short of the divine mark [Romans 7:15-24]. For further study read the following texts: Job 15:14-16; Psalm 14:2, 3; Isaiah 1:4-6; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23.
This word means a deliberate violation of the law, or willful disobedience. Transgression pre-supposes that one has the knowledge of the law. In the spiritual realm, transgression is the violation of the moral law, or ten commandments of God [see 1 John 3:4]. A knowledge of God’s law makes sin to be “transgression.” Note the following:
Since sin is a deceiver, it would be impossible for sinful man to fully realize his condition unless God revealed it to him. This He has done by giving the law. The law was never given as a means of salvation or to deal with sin. The law is incapable of producing righteousness in us because of man’s sinful state [Romans 8:3]; the only way that man can be saved is in Christ. The Scriptures clearly state that “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” [Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; 3:21-22; 5:4]. It cannot make man holy and good because he is sold under sin [Romans 7:12, 14]. But God gave the law to sinful man to be “our schoolmaster [or escort] to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” [Galatians 3:24].
This will be our study in the following chapters.