Wed, 09/10/2008 – 16:22 — David Watson
One of the Greek words for “sin” is hamartia (άμαρτια). The basic meaning of this word is to “miss the mark” in archery. When most people exegete this word, they usually talk about missing the mark in our moral behavior, or failing to obey God’s commands. This is certainly part of the meaning. I think there is a greater/deeper meaning to this word, especially when it is singular rather than plural. It’s rather easy to talk about our sins. We have a list of “do’s” and “do not’s”. But it becomes more difficult when we talk about sin (noun and singular, not the verb “to sin”), not a single sin, but a state of sin – “sin of the world” (John 1:29), or “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23), or “your body is dead because of sin” (Romans 8:10), and “the whole world is a prisoner of sin” (Galatians 3:22).
God created the universe for a purpose. In order for that purpose to be fulfilled He created mankind with intelligence and freewill. Without intelligence and freewill there is no capacity for true relationship. When mankind chose to sin, we fell short of God’s purpose for mankind – missing the mark. Christ became the sacrifice for this state of sin.
God has a purpose for each person. If I fall short of or miss the mark regarding God’s purpose for my life, I have sinned. Certainly, Christ has paid the price for my sin – included in His sacrifice for all sin. Forgiveness is provided to those who by faith accept this act of grace – the offering of salvation, a redeemed relationship with God, based on our faithful acceptance of His sacrifice on our behalf. Our faith, and our resulting love for God, is demonstrated in our obedience to His commands. But, even the faith we have is a gift from God.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)
Note the progression: Create by God – Grace from God – Salvation provided by God – Faith provided by God– Faith received and exercised by man – Salvation received by man – Created in Christ to do good works – Doing good works prepared by God in advance. (Many people only quote verses 8 and 9. Verse 10 is very important. There is a purpose for our salvation.)
One of the biblical examples that jumps to mind is King David. David was a murder and adulterer. Most would consider these sins as disqualifiers for God’s service, yet David was declared a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). The reason David was declared a “man after God’s own heart” was that he would do everything God wanted him to. This did not mean that David would not do things he wanted to do – sin. But he did fulfill God’s purpose for his life.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, attempted to obey everything the Scriptures commanded and everything their religion demanded, yet they failed to fulfill God’s purposes for their lives. In other words, they were good at religion, but not at being what God intended for them to be. The sin of the Pharisees was that they put their religion at the center of their lives, instead of God. And in doing so, they missed God’s purposes for their lives. They missed the mark set for their lives by God.
Matthew 5:20 (NIV) says, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” See also Matthew 12:1-13 and Matthew 15:1-20. Note particularly Matthew 15:13-14 (NIV), “He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
God’s purposes are not found in religion, unless we are also seeking the face of God, knowing the mind of God, doing the will of God, meeting the needs of others, and demonstrating our love for God through obedience to all his commands.
“As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (NIV)
You were created for a purpose. Do you know what it is? Don’t miss the mark!