V. Sin, Original and Personal

5. We believe that sin came into the world through the disobedience of our first parents, and death by sin. We believe that sin is of two kinds: original sin or depravity, and actual or personal sin.

5.1. We believe that original sin, or depravity, is that corruption of the nature of all the offspring of Adam by reason of which everyone is very far gone from original righteousness or the pure state of our first parents at the time of their creation, is averse to God, is without spiritual life, and inclined to evil, and that continually. We further believe that original sin continues to exist with the new life of the regenerate, until the heart is fully cleansed by the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

5.2. We believe that original sin differs from actual sin in that it constitutes an inherited propensity to actual sin for which no one is accountable until its divinely provided remedy is neglected or rejected.

5.3. We believe that actual or personal sin is a voluntary violation of a known law of God by a morally responsible person. It is therefore not to be confused with involuntary and inescapable shortcomings, infirmities, faults, mistakes, failures, or other deviations from a standard of perfect conduct that are the residual effects of the Fall. However, such innocent effects do not include attitudes or responses contrary to the spirit of Christ, which may properly be called sins of the spirit. We believe that personal sin is primarily and essentially a violation of the law of love; and that in relation to Christ sin may be defined as unbelief.

Genesis 3:1-6:

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 

Was it all about the apple?:

  • Addison was looking through her children’s bible book and came across the story about Adam and Eve. Already knowing the story she looked at the picture and asked me, “Why can’t we eat red apples?”
  • It’s not about the fruit…It is about what the fruit represented. The fruit represented a choice that was given to Adam and Eve, and a choice that is given to us. Do we accept God’s image for life or do we pursue our own image? Do we pursue what we feel like is better for our lives and self preservation?

Scripture: 1 John 1:7-8:

7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 

  • John is referring to original sin.
  • The simplest way to describe original sin is to understand it the same way John Wesley did. Wesley understood it as “idolatry.” Self idolatry that is…we’re all born with this natural inward tendency to always be looking at what is best for us. Always looking for what makes us feel good or feel right.
  • Self idolatry is the biggest obstacle to salvation…We have to get beyond ourselves before we can begin to see the need for salvation.
  • Salvation is the ultimate healing to this disease that afflicts us all.

Total Depravity? 

  • Let’s look at this word “Depravity.” Depraved: “Morally corrupt; wicked.” If someone is totally and morally corrupt that would mean that they may not even be aware of their condition. In terms of salvation, this may lead to a theology that there are those who “predestined” to be saved since no one is able, by themselves, to see the need for a savior.
  • Perhaps, there is another way to look at “Depravity.” Perhaps it is that in our “Depravity” we are actually just “deprived” from the original designed that God had for us.
  • I believe that the very fact that we are aware of a need in our life is evidence that God is indeed working in our lives…even before we accept him as savior.
  • I believe we are all born with sin, and it is this sin that separates us from God and his original design for us, however, even in our state of sin God still calls us to move into relationship with him. We Nazarenes understand this as God’s “Prevenient Grace.”

Deprived From the Image of God: 

The story of the Bible does not begin with sin, but that it begins with perfection.  Before there was a fall, God said that it was “good, good, good, and very good.” Before there was an apple, there was fellowship in the Garden.  The message of the Bible doesn’t begin with sin, it begins with God.  It begins with holiness.  It begins with pure relationship.  It begins with grace.

It is only after Adam and Eve took of the forbidden fruit—as recorded in Genesis 3—that relationship between God and humanity was broken.  It was only after they succumbed to temptation that sin began to play a role in human lives, tempting us, leading us astray, and keeping us from being in right relationship with God and with one another.

And so, because of the decisions of Adam and Eve , “We believe that sin came into the world through the disobedience of our first parents, and death by sin.”  Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and later on Paul tells us that “The wages of Sin is death.”  Because sin entered the world, death entered the world.

I am convinced that God’s grace is calling us out of the image of sin and into him image. This original sin affects us all, but it is our choice if this “sin nature” is going to define who we are as a purpose. I prefer the option…I prefer to allow God’s grace and God’s cleansing power to give definition to my life.

As strong as the pull of sin is in our lives, I am convinced that the pull of God’s grace drawing us towards His image (imago Dei) is just as strong. The difference between a life in the image of the world and a life in the image of God is how we will choose to respond to God’s amazing grace. Diane Leclerc sums up prevenient grace as as this, “The presence of God, through the gracious activity of the Holy Spirit enables the will, not to save itself, but to move toward God who is moving towards us.”

What is sin? 

  • Sin is a willful transgression of a known law of God. 

1 John 9 – 2:6 9:

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.3 Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments 4 Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; 5 but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.

  • I am convinced that it is sin that tells us it is okay to do certain things all because they “feel good” or “feel right.” We live in a society plagued because people do what “feels right.”

To Sum It Up: 

  • Sin has alienated us from God…we are separated from his image, but praise the Lord we don’t have to remain this way.
  • We can recognize our sorry state, turn away from it and pursue life the way God has designed it.
  • God designed us to be in relationship…to love. Because of sin, we are unable to be in sound relationship with God, ourselves or others.
  • Luke 10:27 says, “Love the Lord your God with all  your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • This is the image of God…This is what God’s grace is calling you to.
  • We have been set free from sin, but this freedom comes at a price. Jesus Christ died for this freedom.
  • Also this freedom is not without a response…We must meet God with a single hearted love. When we try to come to God with just half of our heart and will then it makes having any cleansing fellowship with God impossible.
  • Mildred Bangs Wynkook describes how to commit to God… she writes, “This does not put an impossible burden on the human psyche, nor does it require any particular measure of maturity, ability, or knowledge. But it does ask for growth and nurture and a depending spiritual sensitivity that never ends. “