A Brief Theology of Sin
We were created for unbroken, loving fellowship with God. We see this in the creation story. As we share in this unbroken, trusting fellowship with God, we participate in the very love that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share throughout eternity. We also read in the creation story that sin ruptured this fellowship and sidetracked God’s plan. The origin and essence of sin is rooted in how we understand the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
The first thing we need to notice about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is that it was located in the middle or the center of the garden, along with the Tree of life. Here God provided a provision and a prohibition. The Tree of Life was God’s provision to meet our needs and share his life endlessly. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was God’s prohibition against humans overstepping their proper domain.
God provided a “No Trespassing” sign to protect us from overstepping our finitude. At the center of the beautiful existence God wills for us is the humble recognition that we are not God and thus must leave to God what God wills to keep for himself, namely, the knowledge of good and evil.
As the Creator, God alone has the right and the ability to define good and evil. When God administers judgment, knowing good and evil, it serves God’s purpose of inviting agents into his love. When humans try to do this, however, it tends to facilitate death for ourselves and others.
Our fundamental sin is that we place ourselves in the position of God and divide the world between what we judge to be good and what we judge to be evil. And this judgment is the primary thing that keeps us from the doing the central thing God created and saved us to do, namely love like he loves.
God alone knows each human heart. God alone knows what each person was originally given to work with in terms of his or her psychological, physical, and even spiritual aptitudes. God alone knows the myriad factors that influence each decision people make. And God alone knows the extent to which people choose what they do out of their own free will and the extent to which their choices are the result of factors outside themselves. Unless we are intimately involved in a person’s life, this information is completely hidden from us. Hence, while there are intimate contexts in which we are to hold each other accountable, Scripture uniformly testifies that God alone is able to judge and warns us not to judge. (See Matt 7:1-5.)
The essence of sin according to the Genesis account is the transgression of this proper boundary. We are not satisfied with being God-like in our capacity to love; we also want to become God-like in our capacity to judge, which is how the serpent tempts us. But in aspiring toward the latter, we lose our capacity for the former, for unlike God, we cannot judge and love at the same time.
The essence of sin is that we play God. We critically assess and evaluate everything and everyone from our limited, finite, biased perspective. Instead of simply receiving life from the Tree of Life, we try to derive our likeness of God, our life and worth, from that which is forbidden at the center or our existence, the knowledge of good and evil.
—Adapted from Repenting of Religion, pages 67-68
Photo credit: Shaikhji via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-ND
A common argument today against Christianity is that believing that Jesus (or any other religious figure or religion) is the only way to God (See yesterday’s post) is “dangerous.” This claim actually has some justification, for it is undeniable that most of the butchery carried out throughout history has been done in the name of defending…
Greg investigates the laws of nature, the nature of law, the fall of the powers, and the power of the fall in this enlightening episode that evolves right up to the climactic ending. Episode 561 http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0561.mp3
All fallen societies and religions have a tendency to rank people according to class. All have ways of separating the insiders from the outsiders, the holy from the unholy and the more important people from the less important people. Jesus revolted against classism by the way he lived, a way defined by the Kingdom. Now,…
What does it mean when we say we’re called to suffering? Does it mean that we should allow ourselves to be victimized or that God approves when we are abused? Here are Greg’s thoughts on this topic.
To say that living in Calvary-quality love is the most important thing in our life is to grossly understate its importance. This stands in distinction from how we typically define the Kingdom of God. But it stands in line with the fact that Jesus is the Kingdom of God. Paul says the “the only thing…
1 Timothy 2:12 has been used over the years to keep women from teaching or preaching theology and being in positions of leadership within a church. When looked at within its historical and cultural context, however, we find Paul’s restriction on women was due to specific cultural problems that no longer apply to educated women…