Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "HAMARTIOLOGY"


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible

    1. Personal sin - the Biblical doctrine
      1. Some of the words to be considered.
        1. Transgression - Ps. 51:1; Lk. 15:29
        2. Iniquity - Isa. 53:5-6.  2 Tim. 2:1
        3. Missing the mark - Gen. 20:6; Jer. 2:35 (cp. Jud. 20:16; Rom. 3:23)
        4. Trespass - Eph. 2:1
        5. Lawlessness - 1 Tim. 1:9; 1 Jn. 3:4-10
        6. Unbelief - Jn. 16:9
      2. Sin is always against God (Ps. 51:4; Lk. 15:18). Sin is sinful because of what God is.
      3. Sin cannot rightfully be limited to those things which are merely contrary to the revealed law of God, for we can know little of what God is.

        Sin includes all, conscious and unconscious, revealed or unrevealed, which is not in conformity with the character of God. "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God," or "Sin is any lack of conformity to the moral law of God, whether in act, disposition, or state" (Num. 15:28; 1 Jn. 3:4; 5:17; Rom. 14:23; Jas. 4:17; Mt. 15:19; Heb. 3:12).
      4. Conclusion: All men have committed acts of sin which are sinful.
        In some degree they have acquired the habit of sinning. They are all in a fallen state and are reckoned by God to be "under sin."
    2. A study of the meaning of the words for sin.
      1. Transgression - a very positive word. A transgression is an overstepping.
        God says, "This is the line of my requirement. " We say, "I will not limit myself thus. " It is doing what I ought not to do (Ps. 51:1; Lk. 15:29).
      2. Iniquity - Isa. 53:5-6. This word has to do with an act that is inherently wrong and that could never be right.
      3. Error - means departure from the right; a going off of the right way."
        The good is often the enemy of the best" (Ps. 19:12; Rom. 3:23; Gen. 20:6; Mt. 18:15). While transgression is a stepping over, an error is a falling short (Rom. 3:23).
      4. Trespass - is equivalent to transgression in the Bible sense. It is an intrusion of self-will into the realm of Divine authority.
      5. Lawlessness - "sin is lawlessness" (1 Jn. 3:4, margin; cp. 2 Thes. 2:4).
        Thus, when we sin, we cast restraint to the wind. Sin is sinful because of what God is. Sin is sin because it is less holy, less righteous, less just than God. A man can never sin without sinning against God (Ps. 51:4; Lk. 15:18).

        Divine perfection demands perfection for acceptance. "God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, " i.e., to look upon sin with favor (Hab. 1:13). Since sin is against God, our sin must be judged in the light of His standard. "Sin is any want of conformity to, or transgression of, the law of God. " This includes not only sins of commission, but sins of omission as well.

        Sin is any lack of conformity to the moral law of God (Rom. 3:9; Isa. 53:6; 1 Jn. 1:10; 2 Pet. 2:14; Rom. 5:12-14; 11:32; Gal. 3:22).

        The closer to the Lord the child of God walks, the more conscious he is of Ills sin.
    3. Conclusions arising out of scriptural comments concerning sin
      1. Sin is against God primarily.
        It may or may not be against others, but it is always against God.
      2. Sin may be either of omission or commission.
      3. Sin is either inward (of the soul) or outward (of the body).
        I can sin simply in my thought life as well as in an overt act (2 Cor. 10:5-6). "It is not the amount of sin that keeps a man from heaven; it is the fact of sin."
      4. Sin may be our own personally, or we may be the partaker of other men's sins (1 Tim. 5:22, cp. 2 Jn. 9-11).
      5. Sin results in death (physical, spiritual, and eternal).
        We do not become spiritually dead by acts of sin; because we are already spiritually dead by virtue of being in Adam's family.
      6. Universality of sin (1 Ki. 8:46; Ps. 143:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Gen. 6:12; Ps. 14:3; Isa. 53:6; Jer. 17:9; Mt. 4:17; Mk. 1:15; 6:12; Lk. 24:47; Jn. 3:3-5; Rom. 3:9,19-23; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Gal. 3:22).


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