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The Nature of Sin

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 3, 2022 12:01 am

The Nature of Sin

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 3, 2022 12:01 am

When God created the world, He called it good. But when we look around today, it is clear that something has gone terribly wrong in creation. What happened? Today, R.C. Sproul identifies sin as the source of the pain suffering in the world.

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Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
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R.C. Sproul
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Dr. Stephen Davey

Today on Renewing Your Mind, you can't really understand what God bless and this is where ungodliness is unless you first have an understanding of godliness.

You can't understand unrighteousness unless you first have a clear understanding of the norm of righteousness.

The Bible informs us that all have sinned and fall short of sin is missing the mark. What is the one who determines it is her focus today is Dr. RC Sproul provides a definition of sin for us, and examines its devastating consequences from our lives and we looked the doctrine of divine creation. We noticed that one God made the world and everything in it when he was finished with each stage of the work of creation as a painter would step back to admire his work. So God gazed upon the work of his hands and pronounced his benediction saying it is good but when we look at nature today from our perspective, we don't see the same goodness spreading throughout the universe as God be held after the immediate work of creation. Because the world that we observe today is a fallen world, and indeed we observe it through the eyes of people who are also fallen and we know that there are things that are desperately wrong with the world in which we live. I remember many many years ago when Billy Graham was at the height of his public ministry. He frequently made reference to sin, and he would say again and again in his sermons. The problem that we face in life is sin, yes I and and then he would say that it comes from. Yeah so I remember hearing that as a young man, and say that is right on the money that so many of the problems that we encounter in this world are a direct result of the fall of mankind. In fact, I think it's rare that we contemplate the measure. The full measure of the scope of the impact of sin upon the world because when we look at Scripture. The Scriptures tell us that sin is not merely a human problem or an isolated problem or problem that is restricted to our interpersonal relationships, but that sin has resulted in cosmic evil as the Scriptures say that the world or the universe. The cosmos groans in travail awaiting for the redemption of the sons of men. And the reason for that. If we recall again, our study of creation that when God made Adam and Eve, he placed them in the role of dominion over the rest of the earth. And so when they became corrupted. Their corruption affected the whole of everything within the boundaries of their domain. We notice that when God placed his curse upon Adam and Eve after the fall that that curse affected the ground. It affected the experience of the growth of produce in the farming industry because the world itself would now become resistant to the hands of this fallen creature that we call man and so what happens in this cosmic people in one word is alienation, for if we can choose another word of the same ilk. It would be estrangement in these two words are very important to the biblical understanding of salvation because salvation is articulated biblically in terms of reconciliation and for reconciliation to be necessary, there must first be some kind of estrangement or alienation that makes reconciliation necessary so much of the opening chapters of the Old Testament is devoted to telling us of the historical roots of this problem of alienation and estrangement and we see that as a result of the fall of man. First of all, there is estrangement or alienation between man and nature, as I mentioned a moment ago that the whole created order has been affected by sin. Secondly, there is the alienation between man and God.

Just the other day I was doing an interview on the radio in Boston and the director of the studio there asked me to give a brief statement of the meaning of salvation and I reminded him of a message that I gave several years ago with the Christian booksellers Association that startled some people. When I said that ultimately what we are saved from is God because the immediate problem that salvation addresses is our estrangement and alienation from God who is righteous who is holy and who has decreed that he will judge the world and he would pour out his wrath upon those who remain impenitent to the end and so we find ourselves by nature, as the Scripture say at enmity with God that that fallenness that has taken place has provoked an estrangement between human beings and their creator and that is often overlooked in our society. With the somewhat rose-colored view that we have of the relationship the natural relationship of God to the world. We hear people say that God loves everybody unconditionally, and when people hear that they say will I don't have anything to fear from a creator who loves me unconditionally and that tends to ignore the clear and present danger of the reality of this estrangement. In fact, so much of the whole scope of Scripture is devoted to revealing to us the steps that God is taken by his initiative to cure this problem. This is what redemption is all about. This is what salvation is all about to bring about the reconciliation of a strange parties. But if those parties are not reconciled. They remain estranged and again by nature. We are born in the state of alienation and estrangement from God, then we see the alienation of man from man using the word here, purposefully, generically, when I use the term man. I don't mean just men because there's an estrangement of alienation that is between the sexes, there's the battle of the sexes. The war between the sexes that were all familiar with, but we also see the hatred and the violence that takes place between human beings, not only on a personal and individual level of broken relationships, but also again on a grand scale where we see nations rising against nations, and so on and so before I go any further, let me just say that already we see the radical impact of sin on the world. It affects nature and affects our relationships with God and it affects our relationships with each other when we sin, we not only disobey God and dishonor God but we violate each other and in this dimension. We see all of the sins heaped up by which human beings are injured by other human beings. The obvious ones, such as murder and of the theft and adultery and things of that nature, but also when we slander each other when we hate each other when we envy each other's possessions and so on. The whole gamut of sin describes the way in which we violate other human beings and injure other human beings and are injured by other human beings. And finally we see in this alienation and this estrangement, the alienation of man from himself so much as written today about self-esteem and human dignity and the desire and the school system to avoid punitive measures for wrongdoing and so on.

Because we don't want to injure the fragile egos of children and destroy their self-esteem and this is gone, I think, to an extreme. Behind this whole movement for self-esteem is a realization that human beings have a problem with self-esteem and the reason is because with sin we become alienated not only from other people, but from our own selves, and we hear the statement many times on the lips of people when they say I hate myself, or I pour myself. I despise myself because it's very hard to lie to ourselves so convincingly that we completely deny, and erase that wickedness that we find not simply in others but in ourselves as well. So, I might add to this, parenthetically, that Karl Marx not speaking from a Christian viewpoint but from his vantage point saw that one of the biggest problems with the human race was the estrangement or alienation of people from their labor, where there so much pain and struggle involved in the working out of our lives in industry and whatever our vocation happens to be, and again we can trace the roots of that back to the Garden of Eden where the curse of God came upon man in his labor labor itself wasn't a curse man was put the work before the fall. And God works and he finds fulfillment and blessedness in his own labor and that was the intent for us in our labor and in the Eden. Nobody said thank God it's Friday because there was a real fulfillment that people had in the work of their hands.

But because sin now attends the marketplace sin attends the workplace again.

The curse of our labor has bring has brought to us even further alienation. So just outline this in brief so that we could pursue each one of these in greater detail. I'm just trying to paint the big picture here to see that sin is a very serious matter and it has devastating effects upon us. But let's spend some time now asking the question what is sin what is this thing that we call sin in the Scriptures in the New Testament the Greek word that is translated by the English word sin is the word hamartia and in the original language. That word was used in the arena of archery describing the situation when the archer missed the bull's-eye of the target. Paul tells us, for example, in Romans three all have sin and fall short of the glory of God. Again, that expression there of falling short would be that metaphor drawn from archery where somebody aims their arrow at a distant target but the aim is arrive so that the arrow falls short of the intended mark. It fails to hit the target at the right place. Now, in a sense the target becomes the standard or the norm of measurement of accuracy and so when we miss the mark. What it means biblically, is that we fall short of a standard or we violate the norm and of course the norm by which Scripture measures righteousness and its opposite, sin is the norm of God's law.

So it's when we fall short of the law of God. When we miss the mark of the law of God when we violate the norm or the standard of the law of God that that defines sin for us how the catechism defines sin in this way that sin is any want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God. Now if we notice that definition in terms of want of conformity. On the one hand, and transgression. On the other hand we see one of these words word want is expressed in negative terms and transgression is in active or positive terms. Remember when I went to school in Holland that I was immersed in a foreign culture, and couldn't believe the sheer number of particular laws that defined every aspect of life at that time. If you broke a pane of glass in your house in the village outside of Amsterdam. You couldn't repair that single pane of glass in your house without getting the written permission from the central government and the headache and has one born and raised in an atmosphere of free enterprise, I found that very very stifling and a course now it's the same thing in this country.

Just about but in those days the idiom the expression that I heard again and again in Holland was submitted here.

You have to vet overestimating you've overstepped the law and the laws were everywhere were turnaround the bond and a lot of it's pretty hard not to step over it because that there were so many of them, but that's the idea here of transgression where you cross a line you step over a boundary in the boundary again is defined by the law, that's that the positive sense of the transgression.

God says don't do something stop here at this line you walk over the line, you violate that law.

You have transgressed against God. It's a trespass is an interesting that in our nomenclature. We equate the word sin with a trespass and yet outside of the church.

You may see signs in various building sites and so on.

Bring the sign says no trespassing and they say that the sign doesn't say no sinning is not an equation there, but we see the link between a trespass and a sin means stepping across a border illicitly and the want of conformity calls attention to a lack or a failure. Sometimes we make a distinction between sins of omission and sins of omission, sin of commission is when we do something were not allowed to do in a sin of omission is when we fail to do something, we are responsible to do. And so with respect here we see that sin has both a negative and positive dimension to it. Now this can be tied in to historic theological and philosophical speculation to a degree on the nature of evil itself, and that's of course perhaps the most difficult question that we face as Christians philosophically.

It's been said that the origin of evil is the Achilles' heel of Judeo Christianity because the obvious question we face is talking a God who is altogether righteous and altogether good bring into being a world that is now fallen. How can God if he is the creator of all things coexist with the world that has sin present that he cause it that he do it that he employed it in his purposes, and the question ultimately becomes, is there something wrong with God himself because there's obviously something wrong with the world that he made while in the speculation about this. Historically the philosophers and theologians have used two words to define the nature of evil which are important to this discussion. Both of them happily, or unfortunately depending on your perspective come over from the Latin one of the words is the word provide audio and the other one is the word in the Gaudio and of course the Latin providing outcomes in the English word privatization and the word in the Gaudio comes into the English with the word negation so we have a privatization and a navigation again. Sin is defined chiefly in biblical terms in negative categories of privatization is a lack of something. A privatization is a want of something.

Something is missing.

When there is privatization. We've heard the term deprivation and the word to be deprived.

What we are deprived of in our present fallen condition is holiness and righteousness. What is lacking in our souls is perfect righteousness.

We are born in a corrupt condition with a lack of the original righteousness that Adam and Eve possessed and so we speak of sin in terms of lacking a certain level of righteousness or goodness that we ought to have.

But do not presently have the negation means that sin or evil is defined over against the polar opposite of righteousness for the good, evil is the opposite or the negation of good. Notice how the Bible speaks so often about evil and about sin. It uses words like on godliness or on righteousness or irreverence or the anti-Christ, so that these words unrighteousness and ungodliness. The sins are defined over against the positive norm by which they are measured. You can't really understand what godlessness is or ungodliness is unless you first have an understanding of godliness. You can't understand unrighteousness unless you first have a clear understanding of the norm of righteousness. The term antichrist is meaningless apart from first understanding the meaning of the term Christ so there's a sense in which evil is dependent upon the prior existence of the good for it's very definition evil in this sense is like a leech. It is like a predator who lives from its host and is dependent upon its host and as Augustine said, we have a difficult time explaining the origin of evil, but only because we have a prior understanding of the good and those who would deny the existence of God have to explain both good and evil. They don't even have a norm by which they can complain about the problem of good. So even though we don't solve this problem. Ultimately, it's at least ameliorated by realizing that you can't even speak about the problem of evil without first affirming the existence of the good of the one danger in defining sin purely in negative terms is that it might lead us to the conclusion that it is therefore an allusion no no no. That's why the reformers added another word actual Osa that sin is or evil is providing actual Osa its active it's real. And though it may be mysterious. Nevertheless, we all understand that there is a reality to evil that we participated in that evil is not just something that intrudes upon us from outside, but it is something in which we are deeply in personally involved ourselves in our own hearts. Sin cuts deep. Not only did it because her isolation from God.

As RC mentioned earlier, the whole creation groans because of it, but it also helps us realize just how much we been forgiven in Christ, glad you joined us your listing to Renewing Your Mind with Dr. RC Sproul and I'm Lee Webb glad you could be with us. We been listening to one of Dr. Stroh's classic overview series this week. It's titled foundations and overview of systematic theology. It features 60 messages on basic Christian truths like how we can know God, the creation of man, the Holy Spirit, and faith were making the special edition of the series available on DVD for your gift of any amount. It includes a bonus disc of the audio files from the series, as well as a PDF of the study guide. We invite you to contact us today to request your copy.

Our phone number is 800-435-4343 in a web address is Renewing Your Let me repeat that our number is 800-435-4343 in a web address Renewing Your as we heard RC describe the nature of sin. I was reminded of a question-and-answer session from a link international conference a few years ago. Let's listen as Chris Larson poses a question from the audience and and listen carefully because RC's answer is short and to the point both my brothers are unsaved. One believes there is no such thing as sin. Therefore, there is no need for a Savior Hattaway answer this question, how do I explain sin steals wallet that was classic RC we missing every day and we miss everything about including his great sense of humor and his ability to get to the heart of the grateful though that is teaching lives on, so we hope you'll join us again tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind with RC Sproul

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