Since Christianity’s fundamental theme is salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we should consider the requirement for that salvation.
Sin is any absence of compliance to God’s character that the Scriptures convey; and such absence, or lack of conformity, to God encompasses both sinful thoughts, expressions, and acts, as well as guilt; and to fully understand what sin is we need to examine the differences between personal, the inherited sin nature, and imputed sin.
First we must understand that God did not create sin or sinful beings; He created beings that could freely love and serve Him without any compulsion. Because of mankind’s self-determination, we can make the choice to obey or to disobey God’s will or commands, and some chose to disobey and thus sinned. The first one to do so, as we have seen previously, was Lucifer . God created mankind, Adam and Eve, and placed them in the garden, giving them everything they needed to live, and placed them in charge of His creation; there was only one restriction: “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”” . Then entered Satan and planted doubt in Eve’s mind, deceiving her, and she ate of the fruit and gave some to Adam, who understood to some extent what he was doing, and both disobeyed and sinned against God . Immediately they experienced what sin was for they were afraid and hid from God. God had warned them that disobedience to His command would result in death, and such death would be both physical and spiritual, since the moment they sinned they began the process of physical death, and spiritually would result in complete separation from God eternally .
Because of our inherited sin nature we sin personally; that is, we sin because we are sinners at birth. Even if it were possible to stop personal sinning we could not be acceptable to God because there is the problem of past sin that needs to be accounted for, so it is not possible to be sinless . God’s remedy for sin is forgiveness, which is pardon through the shed blood of Christ, upon confession of the individual; and justification in which the believer is declared righteous in and through the righteousness of Christ that is imputed .
THE INHERITED SIN NATURE
Personal sins result in condemnation and guilt, while the inherited sin nature results in condemnation but not personal guilt. The effect of the inherited sin nature on the body, soul, and spirit is separation from God, because inherited sin makes it impossible to be acceptable to God, and this nature cannot be eliminated or improved in this life. Believers in Christ possess both the inherited sin nature as well as the new or divine nature which causes the inner conflict in our lives; unbelievers possess only the inherited sin nature which is incapable of any good before God . Only a complete new birth can meet the criteria for mankind to attain the kingdom of God . God’s solution is judgment for the sin nature in light of the cross of Christ, and by the Holy Spirit who makes it possible to be victorious over this nature . For the believer in Christ, the inherited sin nature will be completely eliminated at death or at the rapture.
Impute means to reckon to, or to credit to, or to credit responsibility to, a person . Adam’s sin has been imputed to all mankind because we, in effect, behaved like him , that is, our whole person was in Adam doing what Adam did (sinned), and the penalty for this sin is death , for we all sinned in Adam and we continually “fall short” because of our personal sins which result from our imputed sin. God’s solution for imputed sin is imputed righteousness, first by imputing our sin to Christ on the cross ; and then each individual believer has the righteousness of God, procured by Christ on the cross, imputed to him/her ; so that all believers in Christ are no longer guilty and condemned, but are assured life everlasting.
THE CHRISTIAN’S SIN AND THE SOLUTION
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”. Every believer sins and thus there is conflict with the Holy Spirit who abides within us , and such sinning is the result of three things that are conflicting for all believers. The world, or Satan’s well-organized system of those that reject Christ, and does not refer to God’s creation, can be overcome by the believer through our faith in Christ . The flesh which relates to sensual sins and the remains of the sin nature. Victory comes from constant direction of our daily lives in dependence on the Holy Spirit . The Devil, whose strategy is systematic and intelligent and is a continuous battle . Victory can be achieved by our resistance to his strategies in our reliance on the Holy Spirit’s help .
Sin can also be prevented by memorizing God’s Word, by Christ’s intercession for us, by permitting the Holy Spirit to teach us the truth of Scripture, and our service to God . Any believer that sins continuously without confession can expect chastisement .