he season of Lent is a time to
reect on our spiritual life. In
this issue I will explore what theBible teaches about sin and for-giveness. Most of us don’t give this subjecta great deal of thought. We acknowledgewe are sinners, but ignore dwelling on it.I hope, however, that our brief explorationinto this subject will help us see more clear-ly what sin is and how God views it.In the Bible, God says He alone
has the authority to dene sin. Hopefullythese reections will lead us to prepare our
-selves to celebrate the paschal mystery of His Passion, Death and Resurrection.Lehman Strauss wrote,“Any treat-ment of Christian doctrine would be incom- plete if the biblical statement concerning sinwere omitted.” Yet, modern philosophy andmaterialistic science may deny the actualexistence of sin. Others who are not thinkersmay even go to the extreme of saying thatthe power of sin is only a ‘past feeling’ andit is more of the work of the inward spiritof God. Still, some deny the presence of sin by simply refusing to think about whether itis a reality or not. Such an attitude doesn’taffect them and they remain passive aboutsin.Thomas Whitelaw states in his work, “itis extremely doubtful whether any intel-ligent person whose moral intuitions havenot been completely destroyed and whosemental perceptions have not been largely blunted by indulgence in wickedness, cansuccessfully persuade himself, at least per-manently, that sin is a myth, an illusion of the mind, a creature of the imagination, andnot a grim reality.”Like many others, I too feel thatrefusal to admit the existence of sin canneither be controverted, nor challenged or obscured. The Sacred Scriptures (Old Tes-tament and New Testament) declare sin’sexistence and the human heart displays it.
Sin is not a myth. It is not a gment of the
mind. Sin is a fact and a reality. It is real aslong as the bond of permanent relationshipexists between God and Man and Man andSociety.
What is Sin?
In the Bible, there are numerousspecial terms to describe sin. Dr. CharlesRyrie has given at least eight. Hebrew ba-sic words: “ra, bad (Genesis 38:7); rasha,wickedness (Exodus 2:13); asham, guilt(Hosea 4:15); chata, sin (Exodus 20:20);avon, iniquity (I Samuel 3:13); shagag, err (Isaiah 28:7); taah, wander away (Ezekiel48:11); pasha, rebel (I Kings 8:50). How-ever the Hebrew word hattah which “liter-ally means ‘to miss the mark,’ is the mostfrequent word in the Hebrew Old Testa-ment translated into English as “sin.” After hattah, another common Biblical Hebrewword that connotes sin is pasha whose lit-eral meaning is to ‘overstep’ or to ‘rebel.’Like hattah, pesha is used in Scripture be-yond the context of moral wrongdoing.“The New Testament uses twelve basic words to describe sin. They are: Ka-kos, bad (Romans 13:3); poneros, evil(Matthew 5:45); asebes, godless (Romans1:18); enochos, guilt (Matthew 5:21); ha-martia, sin (I Corinthians 6:18); adikia, un-r ighteousness (I Corinthians 6:9); anomos,lawlessness (I Timothy 2:9); parabates,transgression (Romans 5:14); agnoein, to be ignorant (Romans 1:13); planan, to goastray (I Corinthians 6:9);paraptomai, tofall away (Galatians 6:1); and hupocrites,hypocrite (I Timothy 4:2). The New Testa-
ment Greek equivalent to hattah is άμαρτία
(hamartia) which is used frequently by NTwriters.These valuable and useful listingslead to certain conclusions about the na-ture and doctrine of sin found in the SacredScripture. Primarily, sin was conceived of being fundamentally disobedience to God.Sin was not simply missing the right mark, but hitting the wrong mark. Sin may be also
dened as the willful transgression of a di
-vine moral precept. Thomas Aquinas iden-
ties sin as “nothing else than a bad human
act,” a voluntary contravention of “eternallaw.” However, the notion of sin in the Bi- ble is deeper than simply a violation of lawor a moral evil. In Scripture, sin entails arupture of relationship, either between hu-man beings or between the sinner and God.Sin is described in the Bible as transgres-sion of the law of God (1John 3, 4) and re- bellion against God (Deut 9, 7; Josh 1, 18).The breaking of the Covenant was another
CONCEPT OF SIN & AN INVITATIONTO RECONCILIATION
Rev. Fr. Charles Rathnasamy PhDKoinonia Page 3