The basic truth of the Bible and practical Christian life
A book about meaning of life - by Arvid Aasen
Chapter - 4
What is sin, and where did it come from?
Yes what is sin? How and why did sin arise, or where and when did it come? God created us to be with Him, and when He created everything, why did He create sin?
Since I ask these questions here, I will also try to answer them to the best of my ability.
The easy answer is this; sin is to not believe in God (John 16: 9). The sins we commit are a result of the fall, that happened after Adam and Eve disobeyed God's only commandment. Because of the Fall, we are tempted to do things we don't wish to do, things we don’t want to do, or things we don't think are so serious. Sin causes us to not follow the words of Jesus, therefore it separates us from God. Jesus said, «He who believes in me follows me.» (John 14:12 and John 15:14)
We talked about what happened in the Garden of Eden in the first chapter, but here we go a little bit deeper into this topic.
At the very beginning (In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, in chapter 3) of the Bible, in Genesis 3, we read about the Garden of Eden where the devil, disguised as a serpent, or the «dragon» as he is referred to Revelation 20: 2, seduced Eve. In Genesis 3: 1, the serpent says, «Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?» Notice how the serpent twists what God has said.
Let us look at the whole of Genesis 3 first:
«Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.»
Genesis 3: 4-5
«Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”» The death God was talking about here was a spiritual death. The Spirit of God that dwelt in men died. Genesis 2: 7 states: «And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.» The Spirit of life, which we talked about in chapter 2, is the Spirit that makes us spiritually alive the moment we confess God as our Father and confess Jesus as our Savior and Lord. That spirit died in the lives of Adam and Eve, and their souls were filled with spiritual darkness.
Genesis 3: 12-13
«Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”»
This shows us the nature of sin that dwells in us. No one wants to take the blame, so we shift the blame to our neighbor. After turning their backs on God, Adam and Eve's first reaction was to try to cleanse themselves. They were not able to, because that restoration required that Jesus die on the cross.
Genesis 3: 15b
«He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.»
This is the first of more than 300 prophecies about the coming of Jesus, and that he would come to restore what was destroyed. The devil's head is to be broken, and it is Jesus' heel that is to break it.
Genesis 3: 22-24
«Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.»
This passage proves God's love for us. If Adam and Eve had not been shut out of the garden, I think they would have tried to correct the mistake they had made. The very first commandment God gave them was only one; that they should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2: 16-17) They had now broken that commandment. The tree of life, which represents eternal life, stood there, and the danger was that they would eat from it, making them and the rest of humanity to be lost forever… Thank God it did not happen!
This is perhaps a poor comparison: When a baby starts to walk, we set up gates for stairs to protect the baby, so that it does not fall down the stairs and hurts himself. We do it because we love the baby, and we don’t want anything bad to happen. This is what God did when He placed them outside of the garden and guarded it.
But why were not the first humans protected from the tree that led them away from God? Believe it or not, this was also God's generous and great love for us. He wants from us genuine and true love, and we probably want that too. Without a choice, we would be like programmed robots and God clearly did not want us to be. He wants true and genuine love and fellowship from us. A true free worship, and it must be willed!
And where did the snake come from?
This is the most important question about sin, since he is the father of sin. The devil is also called the serpent, the thief, the angel of light, the dragon, Lucifer, the morning star, Satan, the king of Tire and many other names. He is also the one behind the Queen of Heaven, magic and god figures made by human hands.
In Ezekiel 28: 11-19 we read who he was and who he is now.
«Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you. “You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, By the iniquity of your trading; Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; You have become a horror, And shall be no more forever.»
Isaiah 14: 9-23 also talks about the devil:
«Hell from beneath is excited about you, To meet you at your coming; It stirs up the dead for you, All the chief ones of the earth; It has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. They all shall speak and say to you: ‘Have you also become as weak as we? Have you become like us? Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, And the sound of your stringed instruments; The maggot is spread under you, And worms cover you.’ “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit. “Those who see you will gaze at you, And consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, Who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’ “All the kings of the nations, All of them, sleep in glory, Everyone in his own house; But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, Like the garment of those who are slain, Thrust through with a sword, Who go down to the stones of the pit, Like a corpse trodden underfoot. You will not be joined with them in burial, Because you have destroyed your land and slain your people. The brood of evildoers shall never be named. Prepare slaughter for his children Because of the iniquity of their fathers, Lest they rise up and possess the land, And fill the face of the world with cities.” “For I will rise up against them,” says the Lord of hosts, “And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, And offspring and posterity,” says the Lord. “I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, And marshes of muddy water; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” says the Lord of hosts.»
In Revelation 12: 7-9 we read more about the devil:
«And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.»
And in Revelation 12: 4a it says:
«His tail drew a third of the stars (angels) of heaven and threw them to the earth.»
So, the devil was one of the angels and he was beautiful to look at. It is no wonder that he is still able to seduce, tempt and deceive us, since he also lives today and will continue to live until the day God destroys him.
God has created the devil, you, and me. God created us to live forever with Him.
The devil's arrogance put an end to his life with God, and he was cast out of heaven. He took a third of the angels of heaven with him in the fall. This third is what we know as demons today.
When God created mankind, He created us with free will. We were created because God wants us to live with Him, as the angels live with Him. It is God who is Love, and He has loved us with His infinite love before we knew Him.
Ephesians 1: 4 states that we were chosen before the foundation of the world, and it also refers to the advice of free will.
For love to be real and not programmed, we must have a choice. We are chosen, but do we ourselves choose to be part of God's selection?
In the same way that we are selected for a job or a school place, we still have a choice whether to take the offered place or not take it. Absolutely no one can choose life with God for us, it is a choice each one must make in his own heart.
God did not program us as robots, but He chose us to live in true love for Him. Therefore, there is one choice we must make, it is to love God as He has loved us first.
1 John 4: 17-19
«Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.»
John 3: 16-17
«For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.»
This is the simple and straightforward meaning of life: To love God, and while here on earth, we prepare for the eternity God has chosen us for.
God's harvest can be compared to the chaff and the wheat. The chaff stands proudly against the weather and wind, while the wheat bends humbly to where the wind blows. The sheep and the goats can also be compared, where the sheep follow the shepherd, while the goats are stubborn and go their own way. God's word says that God opposes the proud, while he gives grace to the humble.
(1 Peter 5: 5-7)
Since sin occurred in heaven, heaven and all of God's creation must be cleansed. That is why the Bible also speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. This leads to the next question of God's omnipotence which means his unlimited power.
God is omnipotent meaning that He is all-powerful. For Him, nothing is impossible!
It is absolutely true, God is omnipotent and nothing is impossible for Him. The creation read about in Genesis 1 confirms this; God said, and it was. Through the stories in the Bible, we can read how God intervenes with his miracles when man allows it or asks Him to do it. It is also experienced for believers to this day.
Jesus said of the devil in John 10:10 «The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.»
So the devil stole us from God in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve chose to eat from the forbidden tree, they also chose the devil as their father, and with that they died spiritually. This sin is also called inherited sin, and we are all with this sin subject to the nature of fallen man. In the Old Testament we can read how people had to make themselves "good enough" for God, through various purification rituals and sacrifices.
When Jesus died on the cross, He was the last sacrifice that restored what was destroyed in the Garden of Eden. He took on everything, both sin and sickness, when He died for us all. This is God's grace, love, and His plan of salvation for us.
It was a grotesque pain, torment and death Jesus had to suffer, but it was for us, for us to go free. Our alternative, which is to be lost forever, is even more cruel and painful, so instead of looking at this with contempt, we must rather thank Him for sacrificing himself for us. He took our pain, and our sin, and He saved us from eternal damnation. The god of this world is the devil, but when we choose to let God dwell within us by inviting Him in, then we are reunited with God, and we become citizens of the heavenly kingdom.
The question, "Why is there so much pain in the world, when God is good, loving, and omnipotent?" is often asked by many. Well, the answer is already given, but it is such an important question that many are wondering, so I repeat the answer again; When Adam and Eve broke the only commandment they had received from the Lord God, they gave the devil the right to rule this world. He still has that right, until the end of this age when Jesus comes again to bring His people home to God, all those who believe and who have accepted Jesus as their Savior.
Until then and during the 7 years of tribulation that will come, when the Antichrist will sit on the throne, it is the devil who is the boss of this world. Although, we who believe in and have received God and His Son Jesus Christ are of another kingdom, we have received the kingdom of God in us. We are therefore the light and salt of the earth, the Spirit of God dwells in us, so where we are we make a difference just by being present, because we bring the spirit of God with us. This means that it is very important for us believers to be well connected to God and His word.
But back to why there is so much pain in the world. God can only intervene in situations where we Christians ask Him to. Even then, things do not always change, since it is a spiritual war in the invisible, where the devil with his demons fight against the angels of God to destroy both people and land. God does not use omnipotence against either us or the devil, even though He is capable of it. This is because He respects us with the free will He has created us with. Everything is given to us as a free gift. The free gift makes the devil do everything he can to steal from us and from God. That is why there is so much evil in the world, because the devil is evil and there are evil people who the devil can rule as he pleases.
So, what is sin?
God is love and since He IS love, He cannot choose not to love us. His desire is that we should love Him back in the same way that He loves us. The Bible says in 1 John 4:19 «We love Him because He first loved us.»
The choice man made separated us from God. Instead of choosing God's eternal love represented in the tree of life, the choice fell on the tree of knowledge which led to eternal separation from God.
This is how Galatians 5: 16-26 describes the difference between living as God wills, that is, in the Spirit, and living according to our human nature, the flesh, and the devil's will: I say then: «Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.»
The unforgivable sin
Most people will never get into the situation that they are guilty of the unforgivable sin that the Bible mentions, but I include this since this is a question I experience some people are concerned about.
Jesus said in Mark 3: 28-29 «Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation.»
If someone deliberately and disrespectfully slanders the person and the service of the Holy Spirit, by pointing to the dominion and redemption of Jesus Christ, he completely denies and loses any possibility of present or future forgiveness of sins, because he has completely rejected the only basis for God's salvation.
It is the Spirit who convinces us of sin and what is right and wrong. Another way to say it would be that our conscience acts as God's voice in us?
Anyway, do you remember how the devil tried to exalt himself above God, as we read in Isaiah 14: 13-14? That sin cost him eternity with God.
To deny, reject or mock the Holy Spirit, which God has given us, is simply a sin that will not be forgiven. All other sins will be forgiven if one asks for forgiveness and repents of them. We will discuss conversion in more detail in a later chapter.