Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday
All have sinned

USA Today published today in their website: Has the 'notion of sin' been lost?
By the look of it - notion of sin? - I am afraid it has.

The same subject of sin was brought up at dinner. SH was asking if Lev 5:3 is a principle that confirms that if we do not know that we have sinned, we are not guilty. A plea of ignorance?

Leviticus 5:3 (NIV)
Or if he touches human uncleanness-- anything that would make him unclean-- even though he is unaware of it, when he learns of it he will be guilty.

His line of question is this: if we do not know that we have sinned, have we sinned? Are we guilty? The examples he gave are two. (1) A man who has been indoctrinated since young to rid of one particular race, send thousands of people into gas chambers. He did not know and does not see that he is doing anything wrong because he has been taught from the crib that such and such a people must be eliminated. (2) A baby without the capacity to reason, does not know wrong from right, did something that is evil.

We had quite an animated debate. I brought in the doctrine of justification, that first and foremost, and the fundamental thing of it all, a person needs to be justified by faith. He said I am not answering his question. I brought in the doctrine of the "inherited" original sin as opposed to the "personal" acts of sins, as different categories that should be handled differently and he said all sin is the same. We had to agree to disagree.

Karl Menninger published Whatever Became of Sin? in 1973. The "concept" of sin was steadily evaporating from everyday life. What is sin? How do we understand sin? Speaking from an Asian culture, particularly the Chinese, it is in our mentality that as long as I have not done anything wrong against anyone, I am good: as the saying literally goes, I did not kill, I did not start the fire. The Chinese culturally believes in the original goodness of humankind. And since I am good, I do not need your Jesus.

How then can we explain Romans 3? 10 As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." 13 "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips." 14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

Mark 15:33-39
33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"-- which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah." 36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said. 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"

As the USA Today article conclude and so I also say, "Without an idea of sin, Easter is meaningless." We need a comeback of the doctrine of sin.



  1. Interesting thought.

    Is the Knowledge of Good and Evil the definition of sin? Or is the Life of holiness and love the measure of sin? If our knowledge of good and evil becomes corrupt, does holiness change? Or does hate become love?

    I believe there is a law deeper within us than knowledge. I believe we sin when we cross love, not just when we cross knowledge. The man killing sins.

  2. Maybe sin can be reduced to a violation of the great commandment - to not love God and to not love your neighbor as yourself. It seems that this leaves all of us a guilty.

    On the flip-side.. for the Christian.. though we often sin we are not sinners.. we are saints of the most high God.. it is an issue of identity.

  3. codepoke,
    i don't think knowledge of good and evil in itself is sin - i believe it is neutral. but i think crossing love and knowledge is the same?

  4. KB,
    though we often sin we are not sinners
    hmm ... we were just debating this in class the other day. I am not sure now - I used to think that we are, by virtue of the fact that though saved we still sin but having thought further about this, we have already been justified and redeemed, we are not sinners anymore, though we are still under temptations and can yield to sin.

  5. Hmmm. I guess my point was that crossing knowledge will always cross love, and therefore it's always sin. But you can cross love without crossing knowledge, and therefore sin without knowing you did something wrong.

    But Paul really addresses this pretty directly in Romans 2. Those without the law sin when they violate their own consciences.