You are created with a purpose - to know and live with God for all eternity, just like He is eternal. The first man, Adam, lived in this reality, in complete union and fellowship with God. There was only one flaw - free will. To be in a true relationship with God you must choose to live with Him, but this also opens up for the opposite choice - separation from him. To live, act and talk against God's will is what the Bible calls "sin".
If God's will for you is eternal life, then sin means eternal death. This makes it an extremely important subject and the obvious choice for the first lesson in this course. Now, let us look more closely at what sin really means and where it comes from.
It is quite natural for us to put our own needs in the center of our lives, this is actually how we are born. However, the more we get occupied with ourselves, the less we notice the hurts we do to others. It doesn't take long until the child starts using force, intrigues and lies to get his will through. Sometimes this gets better when the child grows up, and sometimes it gets worse, but it never completely leaves us. This self-centered force inside of us, that causes us to hurt others, is the never-ending source of sin.
The result of sin is easy to see all around us, the world is full of hurt, pain and sorrow. What is less obvious is how it affects our relationship with God. Since we can’t see God we do not immediately understand how much this also hurts Him, but He created us in His image, He permeates all of creation, and He personally feels every bit of pain we cause one another. This sums up to an incomprehensible moral debt between mankind and God.
Here are a few passages in the Bible that describe the consequences of sin:
The Bible has three main words for sin in Hebrew, and they are used to describe different degrees of sin:
This refers to unintentional sin, and is usually relatively easy to amend when we discover it. We all suffer from lack of knowledge in many ways. Sometimes we are never informed that what we do is wrong and we simply continue causing wrong and pain. When we find out however, we must try to restore what was broken and compensate what was lost. This kind of sin is easy to forgive.
This refers to deeds that we know to be wrong, but we still do them because we are weak. When we end up with bad habits or bad company we may partially lose control over our lives and become helplessly trapped in sin and guilt. Although this is more serious than “chet”, there is a will to change, and with proper guidance it can be overcome. When there’s a sincere will to change and improve, the forgiveness is never far off.
When a person deliberately does what he knows to be wrong, and justifies it for his own gain or in a direct rebellion against God – this is called “pesha”, and is the most serious kind of sin. The route to restoration and forgiveness is very difficult and sometimes almost impossible. God may correct and save such a person by allowing disasters to come upon the sinner. In a faith community, this sinner is excluded from the fellowship. Although it may seem cruel to punish and exclude someone, it is often the only way to humble the sinner and eventually lead him or her to repentance and forgiveness. Therefore it’s written that God punishes the one He loves (Hebrews 12:6), because He brings them back from the path of destruction.
Before we can continue towards our original purpose with God and the people around us, we must decide to turn away from sin, forgive and improve. This is also called “repent” and will be explained in the following lessons. We hope that you’ve found this lesson helpful and look forward to having you on the next one, but first let us do a summary and some Q&A.