by Mike Ratliff
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 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 (NASB)
18 Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ γένεσις οὕτως ἦν. μνηστευθείσης τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρίας τῷ Ἰωσήφ, πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου. 19 Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίκαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν. 20 ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου κατʼ ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ λέγων· Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυίδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου· τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου. 21 τέξεται δὲ υἱόν, καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν· αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν. Matthew 1:18-21 (NA28)
In the passage above, the word “sins” in v21 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 practices sin also practices lawlessness; and 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 such as that man who drove into that small town in Texas a few weeks ago and tried to shoot and kill everyone in a small church there. 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! Isaiah understood this.
1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said,
“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” Isaiah 6:1-7 (NASB)
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 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 turning to Christ as Lord, there is no salvation.
Soli Deo Gloria!