While doing research on what various Christian denominations and groups believe about the origin of sin, I ran across the following article “Where Did Sin Come From?” which explored the question of the origin of sin. The summation of the article did not answer the question at all, but left the reader with the following questions:
To answer our question, ‘Where did sin come from?’, we make the following conclusions:
1. Although Lucifer spawned the first sin, he was not the creator of the concept of sin.
2. The concept of sin has always been known to the all-knowing God.
3. Sin exists because—either it is a created concept of God brought about by God’s decrees, or, it has always co-existed as the eternal antithesis of everything that God is.
4. Sin could only experientially exist because, although God cannot sin, He made creatures who could.
I could not bear it, and emailed the webmaster with the following question:
Who wrote this nonsense? Give me a name please.
And listed the questions above. I then finished with the following statement:
This evidences a complete and total lack of understanding. Whoever wrote this, missed the mark.
The gentleman who wrote it answered back, and was gracious (considering my initial contact email) and stated that I had contested, but gave no reasons for disagreement. Moreover, he would be glad to address my concerns.
Fair enough. After all, had he been less than gracious, I would have deserved it. I thanked him for being gracious, and sent the following reply:
Sin has a cause, and that is transgression, which is brought about because of iniquity:
And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. (Jeremiah 33:8)
Iniquity leads to transgression, which immediately results in sin.
Iniquity is the property of being unequal in any of one’s ways:
Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 18:29-31)
When the LORD states that the ways of the people of Israel are unequal, and He then calls them to turn so iniquity will not be their ruin, He is defining what iniquity is. To help in our understanding, we can use the analogy of a math equation (which is an equality):
In thinking about equations: If we introduce into it any element that makes it unequal, what are our chances of making it equal if we don’t realize what we did? What are our chances of actually realizing we introduced an inequality? Moreover, if our understanding is not accurate because we perceive the equation wrongly (unequally — that is, not as it actually is), what are our chances of self-correction?
When a mistake is made working an equation, generally the person does not realize they erred, else they stop immediately and correct the error. However, the divergence with righteousness and iniquity here is that once a thought exists, it cannot be unthought or taken back. Since it is that the LORD judges the thoughts of the heart, once Lucifer had that one thought of being more glorious that the LORD on the throne, he committed an iniquity. Due to the very nature of inequality, he could not go back, nor find his way back.Because of this iniquity, pride arose, and Satan viewed himself to be better than the LORD God in numerous ways. Hence, he rebelled.
Now to look at righteousness: Being righteous is being equal in all one’s ways (which only the LORD God is):
Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity. (Psalms 98:9)
Here, like in Ezekiel, the LORD defines another term. Only in this case, it is righteousness. Putting the two together: Righteousness is the property of being equal in ALL one’s ways, and iniquity is the property of being unequal in ANY of one’s ways. It is of necessity true that if righteousness requires for all ways to be equal, that being (or becoming) unequal in any of one’s ways, means that one has iniquity. Moreover, like the math equation, being unequal in one part, spreads to every other part — and it grows.
Once one cannot perceive correctly because of being unequal (iniquity), the determination of what is the right thing to do is clouded and misperceived. It is easy to see then how we can transgress the bounds if we have difficulty perceiving where the bounds are. As soon as we transgress, we have missed the mark (sinned).
Briefly, to answer the final points you put forth in the article:
To answer our question, ‘Where did sin come from?’, we make the following conclusions: [My answers are in square brackets — italics for the web]
1. Although Lucifer spawned the first sin, he was not the creator of the concept of sin. [There is no “concept of sin.” Sin is not a concept. Rather, is a direct result of transgression (which is exceeding the bounds – thus missing the mark), which is brought about because of iniquity. Satan exercised iniquity because he thought in his heart that he was better than the LORD sitting on the throne he was covering (the descriptions of both the LORD and Satan are in the Scriptures, and that difference is significant). The “problem” is that the LORD gave both angels and men freewill and the ability to judge, but they were not given omniscience. Hence, perception and understanding were limited. Satan lost sight of who created him and gave him all that he had. To man, Satan is beyond genius. But he lost sight of the fact that he was GIVEN that. Just like his beauty and musical ability, his intelligence was given him by the LORD God. However, once he lost sight of that, it was a mere thought of the heart to become unequal – which slipped him into iniquity. Now Satan can never return from that, but only gets more and more unequal over time.]
2. The concept of sin has always been known to the all-knowing God. [No, the fact that creatures with free-will and the ability to judge, yet not having omniscience would have the potential to slip into iniquity, was known to the LORD God. Nevertheless, He chose to create them that way, and would deal with the consequences. The LORD God already knew what those consequences were, but He desired to create beings that would love Him of their own volition. The very nature of free-will, combined with the ability to judge, creates a situation in which the potential for iniquity exists. However, for love to be genuine, the will must be free, and to actually choose freely, one must be able to judge independently – that is, of oneself, given the facts to make a determination.]
3. Sin exists because—either it is a created concept of God brought about by God’s decrees, or, it has always co-existed as the eternal antithesis of everything that God is. [This is a false choice. We are to choose between the LORD God being the ultimate author of sin, or the core of Taoism? This is expressly man’s view, which lacks understanding of iniquity and righteousness.]
4. Sin could only experientially exist because, although God cannot sin, He made creatures who could. [Here you are closest to being right, but answer no questions. You would have to explain what you mean by “He made creatures who could.” How, and in what way?]
You are getting the essence of the doctrine. This is by no means extensive in addressing the ramifications of iniquity. But, it should briefly explain where sin came from. Of course, if you are of Calvinist or Reformed persuasion, you will likely reject everything I say.
Paul W. Davis