Hamartiology: The Doctrine of Sin (sample)

An excerpt from the iTi Level Three, Session Two course "Hamartiology: The Doctrine of Sin." All Scriptures are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. All other material is ©Copyright 1994, Dove Ministries International.

The word hamartiology is taken from the Greek prefix, hamartia, meaning "sin," and the suffix, ology, signifying knowledge. Thus, Hamartiology is the knowledge of sin, from which knowledge we draw our doctrine. Sin is a reality in the world and its effects can be clearly seen in all of our lives. History reveals its dire effects in wars, famines, and all of society's ills.

Galatians 3:22 (KJV) But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

One of Man's most troublesome questions deals with the presence and origin of sin. No one can deny that men have sinned regardless of race, etc. Man does not have to learn to sin. The preponderance toward sin is in every child born on this planet. No child has to be told how to do wrong, but he does have to be taught to do right.

The fact that God is the Creator of all things does not imply that He is the author of sin.

Job 34:10 (KJV) Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.

God could not possibly sin for He is holy and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Isaiah 6:3 (KJV) And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

Deuteronomy 32:4 (KJV) He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

Psalms 92:15 (KJV) To show that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousnes in him.

God hates sin and the effects that it has upon the men who are the objects of His affections.

Deuteronomy 25:16 (KJV) For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.

Zechariah 8:17 (KJ) And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.

In light of all this, it would be blashphemous to make God the author of sin or to think He would tempt any man to sin.

In order for sin to be sin, in the sense that there is guilt attached to it, it must first be a free act of a responsible being. It must be the act of one who understands the difference between right and wrong. Man is a free moral agent, with the capacity and right to weigh his actions and choose his course.

One of the greatest unanswered questions of all time has been why God, in His infinite wisdom and power, should have allowed sin to come into the universe. The wisest men have struggled with this problem which is obviously beyond anyone's ability to solve. We know that God permitted sin to enter the world, but His reasons are far above our grasp.

God's holy purposes for Mankind have not been thwarted by sin, nor has sin kept Mankind from God, for our Redeemer has come! But this does not mean that He planned for sin and its evil effects and suffering to come into the world just so we could be redeemed.

God's purposes superseded the suffering sin has caused, especially the suffering of His Son. Through wisdom only God can have, sin was permitted first to enter heaven, then to find its way to the earth.

Consider the person who was responsible for the first sin in the universe.

Ezekiel 28:12-17 (KJV) Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

Ezekiel the prophet is describing a supernatural being. The immediate context of his words applies to a king of Tyre, but the true meaning goes beyond this application and describes the highest of all created beings. To whom else would the following words apply, than to Satan, before the fall?

Isaiah 14:12-14 (KJV) How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Five times Lucifer pits his will against the will of God. We see from this passage that the first sin was rebellion against God and total independence from Him.

"I will ascend into the heaven." There are three heavens: the atmospheric heaven, the stellar or astronomic heaven, and the highest or third heaven where God and the saints abide. Paul writes about being caught up into the third heaven (II Corinthians 12:1-4). The angels' sphere is the second heaven.

"I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." The phrase "stars of God" refers to the angelic hosts, which we see in this Scripture:

Job 38:7 (KJV) When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

"I will sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north." These words have been taken to express a desire for an earthly kingdom. In scriptural symbolism, a mountain means a kingdom. An example of this is seen in these Scriptures that make reference to God's kingdom.

Isaiah 2:2 (KJV) And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

Daniel 2:35 (KJV) Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

"I will ascend above the heights of the clouds." Divine glory is often symbolized by clouds in Scripture. Lucifer wanted to possess this glory.

"I will be like the Most High." This is the climax of the other four desires. All of these statements express independence of and oposition to God, and show a willful ambition against God. If we wonder how it was possible for sin to come into a perfect environment, the answer seems to be that it entered in as a result of the fall of Lucifer and the angels who agreed with him. We know that their fall was due to their deliberate, self-determined revolt against God.

Read the entire third chapter of the Book of Genesis. In this chapter insight is given into the first sin entering the human race. A complete grasp of this chapter's teachings is essential to our understanding of the doctrine that follows in later Scriptures. The story of the fall of man, as given in Genesis 3, is an absolute contradiction to the theory of evolution, which purports to teach that man began at the very bottom of the moral latter and is now slowly climbing upwards. On the contrary, this chapter declares that man began at the very top, in the image of God, and proceeded to tumble to the bottom.

Genesis 3 also contradicts the modern theory of heredity and environment. We are told that the reason sin and evil are in the world is because our hereditary stream has been polluted. This theory holds that if our ancestors had not sinned we would not have been sinners. But we know that Adam and Eve had no polluted ancestry behind them, yet they sinned. Another version of the theory says that the cause of evil in the human heart is the sinful environment in which we live. If we could only clean up society, then men would no longer be subject to sin. This is shown to be false by the fact that our first parents lived in a condition of perfection, yet they sinned.

The human race was created in such a way that it could receive and reciprocate the love of God. In order for love to be real it must be bestowed freely. Love is not love it it is given under compulsion. How was God to know whether this first man and woman loved Him? He gave them an oppoortunity to prove their love by a simple act of obedience. Remember, all they were asked to do was to refrain from committing one act, the act of partaking of the fruit of one of the many trees in the garden, and thereby demonstrate their devotion to Him. God was not depriving them of anything. Adam and Eve did not need the fruit of that tree. It was not necessary either to their happiness or to their well-being.

Men do not need to sin. Sin does not add one moment of genuine pleasure to our lives in any way. Even those who sin against others the most want others to deal honestly with them. The liar expects us to tell the truth, the thief who steals our goods wants us to leave his goods alone.

There was no poison or evil in the fruit of that one tree. Eating the fruit was only wrong because God prohibited it. In the moral economy which God was establishing here on the earth sin was a possibility, but not a necessity. Adam and Eve should never have converted that possibility into an actuality. Surrounded with everything they needed, and duly warned of God as to what the consequences would be, we can only concluded that they were completely to blame for what they did.

James 1:14 (KJV) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

God did not permit Satan to coerce or overpower Adam and Eve. The serpent tempted them, but he did not force them to eat of the forbidden fruit. The manner in which Satan came was a real trial, but it was not of such a nature as to overwhelm the original pair. This is true of all temptation. A successful temptation requires the cooperation of the individual who is tempted.