I wonder what the average person would say when asked, “What is sin?” I think many would say it means missing the mark or breaking the law. Both of these may be good definitions but let’s look a bit closer at what breaking the law really means.
The Bible tells us “God is love” and He gave us the Ten Commandments which are really just a written out version of who He is which is love. Jesus himself said, when asked which commandment was the greatest, “love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Now that we know the law is love we might need a working definition of love don’t you think?
God’s character, which is defined as love, is always for others. Love as defined by God is sacrificial by nature and will always go the whole way for those He loves. Hence we have been given that most famous of verses, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). You see love is for others even if it means the ultimate sacrifice.
Okay so now we’re getting somewhere. If God is love and the Law is love, which is always for others, then sin which is broken law must be categorized as being selfish or being for ones self, right? So, if God is love and sin is for itself then could it be said that “Sin” is a person? Let’s think about this for a minute. God is love which is for others and breaking this law is sin then it means someone is being selfish which breaks the law of other-love.
In the old, old story of Cain and Abel found in Genesis, God speaks to Cain saying, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” Genesis 4:7 NASB). Then in Romans 7 we read, “But sin, taking opportunity…produced…deceived me…dwells in me.” The Apostle Paul said, “If I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” (Romans 7:20 NASB). So we have sin crouching, desiring, taking opportunity, producing, deceiving and dwelling in me. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a person to me.
Someone might say, “If sin is a person who might it be?” I’m glad you asked. I would say start by looking in Isaiah 14:13-14 where we read about Lucifer’s fall. It reads, “You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God…I will make myself like the Most High.” So the original “sinner”, if you will, is described right here as being all about exalting himself above God and making himself like God. You see this is the root of that self-for-self nature which is also known as sin. We might even call Satan “Mr. Sin” himself.
In Ephesians 2:1-3 we discover all of us used to “walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” Just like Cain, “Sin” crouches at our door and desires to have us, but thank God Jesus Christ has provided deliverance from sin if we would only receive Him.
We have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and been joined to Mr. Sin himself. Since the fall of Man in the Garden, everyone is born walking according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is working in the sons of disobedience. You see “Mr. Sin” took up residence within mankind, but he’s the father of lies so he’s done a pretty good job of hiding it from us. In fact most just think they’re independently making their own decisions when according to the Bible we have all at one time or the other really been doing the “lusts of our Father the Devil” (John 8:44).
In summary let me say, God is love and everything came out from Him so everything is designed to love and be loved. Lucifer, attempting to be his own god, exalted himself, found himself cast down, manipulated our forefathers into joining him in his folly and even now lives his self-for-self life through fallen man. Of course God knew the depth of our deception so He gave us His Law, or the written version of “Love God and others” so we might learn we couldn’t keep it. Upon discovering we can’t obey this perfect law of love, we cry out to Him and He delivers us. Just as Paul said when he finally came to the end of his trying to keep the commandments in his flesh. He said, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25 NASB).
The good news is now we see that on our own we cannot keep God’s love commandments but we also discover He always knew that and never expected us to. You see His plan all along was to live in us and live out His love-for-others life through us. “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4). So Mr. Sin has been condemned and replaced by Mr. Righteousness. The requirement of the Law of loving others is fulfilled, now that God Himself has moved in and lives His very own self-for-others life through us.