Some people think that we do not sin if we live a decent life, pay our taxes, and show kindness to our
With those things done, it is widely thought, we can class ourselves as “good citizens” or even “good people”; certainly not “sinners”. Sinners are adulterers, thieves, murderers, and so on, not like us at all. But if you think that, get ready for a shock.
Who are we to decide whether we are sinners or not? That is for God to decide, and His decision will be in accordance with what He has told us in His word, the Bible, and that is crystal clear. For in one devastating assessment, the Bible says this:
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
That statement doesn’t come out of the blue. It follows a long list of Old Testament statements describing the repeated failure of God’s people to keep His laws and to walk in His ways.
There are different words used in the Bible for doing wrong; for example, “transgression”. This word means a deliberate “crossing over the line” – a wilful disobedience of God’s will. That all started with Adam and Eve, who chose to do things their way, instead of God’s. Given one simple command, they crossed the line that God had drawn and broke His law, with fatal consequences.
Then there’s the word “sinned” in the quotation from Romans. The original Greek word means, as the rest of the verse says, “falling short”. It was the word used when you shot an arrow at a target and, simply through lack of strength or skill, you failed to hit the target. The arrow literally “falls short”.
In other words, that would not be a deliberate act of disobedience, but something that happened through your sheer inability to meet the high standards God expects of us.
Either way, we ARE sinners, whether deliberately – by an act of will – or simply by our human inability to match what God expects of us.
That analysis could easily lead us to despair, except that God has made a provision for all types of sin, through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is the only man who has never sinned. In everything that he did he was righteous and totally obedient to God’s will. Never once did he deliberately transgress against God or break His commands in any way. He never failed to meet God’s high standard. He never “missed the mark”. The Bible describes him thus:
“Such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26); and
“Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).
A Perfect Sacrifice
Because Jesus was perfect, and because, despite sharing our human nature, he overcame human weakness and sin, he was a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Consider what the apostle Paul said about the effects of the death of the Lord Jesus:
“For He [God] made him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
When the apostle says that he became “sin for us” he means that Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice for sin, to cleanse us from sin and its effects. That doesn’t however mean that everybody is automatically forgiven.
Forgiveness is available if we take up God’s gracious offer and associate ourselves with what Jesus did and what he stands for. The Bible explains that we do this by believing what God has revealed about His purpose, and by being baptised into the saving name of Jesus.
But how do you start? The first step in this process of reconciliation with God is to acknowledge that YOU ARE INDEED A SINNER in need of God’s forgiveness. Come to that conclusion and you are on the road to finding the way to escape sin and its awful consequences. A new journey through life can then begin, one that leads to everything that God has promised, both now and in the glorious age that will begin when Jesus returns in power and glory.
By Hamilton Wilson
David’s Plea for Forgiveness
There are three Hebrew words for sin – “transgression” (pesha) means ‘rebellion’; “sin” (chattath) means ‘to miss the mark’; and “iniquity”‘ (awan) means ‘perversion or depravity’.
The three words occur together for the first time in connection with the manifestation of God’s name in Exodus “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6,7).
David’s plea for forgiveness is therefore based on his understanding of God’s revealed character: “Have mercy … according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies” (Psalm 51:1).