by Mike Ratliff
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21 ESV)
In the passage above, the word “sins” translates the noun ἁμαρτιῶν, which is the Genitive, Plural of ἁμαρτία or hamartia, from the verb ἁμαρτάνω or hamartanō, which means, “to miss the mark.” The word group from which these two words belong gives the sense of missing the mark, losing, or falling short of a goal (particularly a spiritual one), as in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” The noun form, ἁμαρτία, typically refers to the transgression of the law, for example, 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Therefore, ἁμαρτία is used to denote our sin against God. Apart from the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, ἁμαρτία results in death, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord ” (Romans 6:23).
Most believers have the wrong idea about sin. They have no problem assigning the title of “sinner” to a murderer or drunkard, et cetera, but those of us who are respectable citizens, what about us? Most of us would probably think that sin has not very much to do with us, at least not like those criminals we see on the News or read about in the Newspapers. However, the word ἁμαρτία does away with that hypocrisy because it brings us face to face with what sin really is. It is the failure to be what we ought to be and could be. The misconception is that sin is something we do, when it is actually something we do not do. What is it that we do not do that makes us sinners?
We do not measure up to God’s standard of holiness. God is holy, perfect, absolutely pure; but our sin of not measuring up to that standard makes us unrighteous and not fit to even be in His presence based upon our own standing. All the sins we do are the result of what we do not do. On our best days, we still fall far short of the glory of God!
Now, in light of this my brethren, how should this affect our walk before our Lord? How should it affect our relationships with other believers? First, we should never take God’s forgiveness for granted. We must always be thankful for that. Second, how dare we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ who have stumbled with judgment! Instead, we should always seek for their restoration as they humble themselves before God, seeking His forgiveness and His granting of repentance.
Also, this should also show us how important it is to preach the entire Gospel never following the trend of seeker-sensitive gurus in calling sin just a self-esteem issue that can be dealt with via behavioral modification. No! We preach the entire Gospel, using the Law so the Holy Spirit will break hearts, drawing the elect to repent and believe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without this repentance and subjection to the Lordship of Christ, there is no salvation.
Soli Deo Gloria!