I, Sins, Sin

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 7
There seems to me great confusion in many between our ever unchanging personality, and consequent responsibility, and the sin that dwells in us, as well as the sins we commit. Man is spirit, soul, and body (Gen. 2:77And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)), a responsible being. Sin was introduced into him at the fall, as a distinct thing, an evil principle. (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:1212Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12).) Sins were the evil fruits as the result. Coming under the power of sin, the fleshly tendency became predominant, and so the term flesh was stamped on his moral condition. (Gen. 6:33And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (Genesis 6:3)), and as to God he became dead in trespasses and sins. (Eph. 2:11And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (Ephesians 2:1).) Now the Epistle to the Romans brings, out the threefold thought distinctly. There is the responsible man, the sins he commits, the sin that entered into him at the fall.
In Rom. 1:18-22; 2:1-1618For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. 20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, (Romans 1:18‑22)
1Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: 8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11For there is no respect of persons with God. 12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Romans 2:1‑16)
we have the responsibility of the heathen set before us, consequent on the light of creation shining upon them, and their conscience giving the knowledge of good and evil (chap. 2:14, 15): the judgment of God is against the heathen for not walking according to that knowledge. But God is wroth with the responsible man for his sins (sin is not responsible), and He will judge the responsible man for his sins and rejecting His forbearance and goodness. (Chap. 2:2-6.)
Chapters 2:17-29; 3:1-20 take up the responsibilities of the Jew, as also his privileges, bringing out the law as the measure of those responsibilities, and he, the responsible Jew would be judged by the law, which, besides proving guilty of sins, given the knowledge of sin. (Chap. 3:19, 20.) Man's universal moral character is described from head to foot (chap. 5:10-18), then the law applied, proving guilty of sine, and giving the knowledge of sin. Thus the three things are clearly brought out in the history of man's responsibility. There is himself—the responsible “I” —guilty of sins, and, if he will learn, the law will give him the knowledge of sin. (Chap. 5: 19, 20.)
Chapters 3:21; 8 to end give the doctrine of man's salvation from this lost condition. He is saved from his sins, and from the power of sin. God is revealed in three characters, answering to the three conditions man is seen under. He is Justifier for guilty man. (Chaps. 3, 4.) He is Reconciler for man, his enemy. (Chap. 5:1-12.) He is Deliverer for man born in sin. (Chap. 5:12; 8 to end.)
Sins are the subject up to chapter 5:12; sin from chapters 5:12; 8 to end. The blood of Christ is presented to God, since all have sinned; and God on that basis displays His justice, in justifying everyone that believes in Jesus. The sins, figured by debts in scripture, are remitted or forgiven, the man is justified, or cleared from guilt. (Chap. 3:23-26.) The sinner believing is forgiven, his sins are covered, sin is not reckoned. (Chap. 4:7, 8.) All his sins have been borne by Jesus on the cross, and therefore can never be reckoned to him. He is cleared from all charge, and accounted righteous. (Chap. 4:23-28; 5: 11.)
From chapters 5:12; 8 to end, man is looked at as connected with Adam, born in sin, and God as his Deliverer—first, from the present power of sin, as to his soul; secondly, as to his body when the Lord comes. But here we shall see clearly the distinction between the responsible “I” (man, composed of spirit, soul, and body), and the sin that dwells in him, whether in his unconverted or saved state. “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.” (Chap. 5:12.) Clearly this brings out, first, men; secondly, sin entering; thirdly, all have sinned.
The figure always used is that of sin, a master or king ruling over man, and man is looked at as its slave. In chapter 5:12 sin entered the world; chapter 5:21, sin reigned unto death; chapter 6:23, it pays wages to its servants, men—namely, death.
Now, this is all in reference to the unquickened, to man born in sin. Man, therefore, is sin's slave till delivered. Rom. 5:18, 1918Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:18‑19) gives the ground of deliverance; Rom. 6 gives the deliverance applied; in Christ's death he has died to sin, and is alive to God in a new condition. Sin therefore now has no more dominion over him, he is no longer under the law, but under grace. He was the servant of sin, but having obeyed the form of doctrine that was committed to him, he has been set free. Sin is actually in him still, but he is not to let it reign. Having now become a servant to God, he has his fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life, as to his body. (Rom. 6:14-2314For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:14‑23).)
Rom. 7 shows how the law, applied to the condition of man born in sin, could no more deliver him than it could justify him. Useful as a schoolmaster, it could give the knowledge of sin as a distinct evil principle in the man, if its lessons were learned, but, instead of delivering, could only condemn. It is figured by a husband, from which, as well as from sin, the master, the believing sinner is delivered by the death of Christ.
The law is not sin, it is holy, just, and good; and that for two reasons—it gives the knowledge of sin, and condemns the man to death who gives way to its first motions, and commits sins. Man in the flesh is the evil tree, bringing forth fruit unto death, and sin is the poisonous sap in the tree. But, except in verse 5, the figure used is always that of a master and slave, and I do not know anywhere in scripture where sin is figured by a tree. Man is, but not sin. So (ver. 8), sin works in the man all manner of lust; verse 11, sin deceived, slew me; verse 13, sin by the commandment became exceeding sinful.
But in all these verses sin is seen distinct from the man who is responsible.
From verses 14-25 we have a quickened soul, coming to the knowledge of deliverance. First, in comparing himself with the spiritual claims of the law, be finds himself carnal, sold under sin, a slave. But then, finding he wills to do right, he finds a distinction between himself quickened and sin dwelling in him, but it is a matter of knowledge and experience. Then (ver. 18) he finds he has no power over the evil, though quickened; in the flesh dwells no good thing. The struggle goes on till he finds himself a wretched man altogether, even though quickened; and who shall deliver him? He looks away to God, and finds God a deliverer, giving him Christ as his life, who has opened the way clean through death for him, and finds he is in Christ, and no longer in Adam. For the Spirit of life of the risen and glorified Christ communicated to him sets him free as a present thing from the law of sin and death. Sin in the flesh is condemned on the cross, but there is no condemnation to the man that is in Christ Jesus. Now in all these scriptures we find man in his distinct personality, whether unconverted, quickened, or fully delivered, but it is the man; and sin is a distinct principle inside him. It is a question between sin, when he comes to the knowledge of it, or God as a Deliverer through Christ, for the law, as we have seen, cannot deliver.
Man, then, ever remains in his distinct personality—first, seen in Rom. 1; 2; 3:20, as an object of judgment, and directly responsible to God; secondly, Rom. 3:1212They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:12)- ch. 8, finding justification from his sins, reconciliation from his enmity, deliverance from the power of sin in God through Christ, finally to he delivered, as to his body, from the presence of sin when the Lord comes. But it is the same person justified, reconciled, delivered, and redeemed, though entirely newly created, and made like the Lord Jesus at the end, when He comes. His sins, looked at as debts, are forgiven the moment he treats in the blood of Christ, not because he has died with Christ, but because Christ died for him. His sin he is delivered from through his having died with Christ, and Christ risen and glorified being God's gift of eternal life to him. The word of God, through the death of Christ, purifies his soul from sin, he has died to it; besides it produces a distinct new nature in him, so that “I” is now distinct from the flesh; he has two natures. Besides, by the communication of Christ glorified to him he is set free in spirit now; the full deliverance will be applied to his body (chap. 8:11, 23-25) when the Lord Jesus comes. He will then be delivered from the presence of sin. Then, thank God, there will be the full shout, O, death, where is thy sting? O, grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law, but thanks be unto God that giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear reader, I hope you are among this happy people, and I trust some dear children of God will be cleared up in their souls, and the sense of their responsibility too will be quickened by seeing from scripture the distinction between “I,” sin, and sins. A. P. C.