[Papercut Press Publishing] 1999-06-29 - S2: Sin

The Holy Alphabet Series

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

"Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God, 1 John 3:4." -Robert Port

This definition of sin has been a standard definition for several hundred years (at least). So Port is saying nothing new here. Many of you, like I, have this phrase memorized. I thought I would look at the origin of the word sin to help gain a better understanding of what is being conveyed when we speak of sin. It is a different approach, and I hope some of you enjoy it.

There are two major experts on word origin who trace the words development to a Teutonic usage. These two are Skeat and Curtius. The focus of this origin is upon the guilt of sin and so the word sin is a reflection upon the individual who is personally guilty, or simply the person who did the deed. See Genesis 3:12,13, Romans 7:9, 2 Samuel 12:7.

Another scholar, Wedgewood, traces the origin to the Norse root sund, from where we get sundered and separated. This lead to the German usage sunde, which again focuses upon the concept of separation. "Your sins have made separation between you and your God" (Isa 59:2)

Modern scholarship seems to agree with the second origin more than the first. But cases also have been made for the origin coming from the Dutch, zonde; prehistoric Germainic, sunjo; the Swedish and Danish synd; the English, sooth, the Latin, sons; and the sanskrit, satya. One source I found said, "It is not altogether clear what its ultimate origins were..."

One thing is clear, sin is a personal guilt that we all have experienced, and it is the result of separation between us and God. The remedy for sin is found in Christ who made atonement for sin on the cross. Scripture is abundantly clear that there is forgiveness in Him and it is available to all who will come to Christ in faith and repentance. (Romans 10:9,10, Titus 3:5) Whatever origin is true, the consequence of sin is personal guilt and seperation, from which Christ is the only remedy.

"A certain tyrant sent for one of his subjects, and said to him, "What is your employment?" He said, "I am a blacksmith." "Go home, and make me a chain of such a length." he went home: it occupied him for several months...Then he brought it back to the monarch and he said, "Go and make it twice as long." He brought it up again, and the monarch said, "Go and make it longer still." Each time he brought it, there was nothing but the command to make it longer still, and, when he brought it up at the last, the monarch said, "Take it, and bind him hand and foot with it, and cast him into a furnace of fire." These were the wages of making the chain.

"Here is a meditation for you to-night, ye servants of the Devil. Your master, the Devil, is telling you to make a chain. Some have been fifty years welding the links of the chain; and he says, "Go and make it still longer." Next sabbath morning, you will open that shop of yours, and put another link on; next sabbath, you will be drunk, and put on another link; next Monday, you will do a dishonest action; and so you will keep on making fresh links to this chain; and, when you have lived twenty more years, the Devil will say, "More links still!" And then, at last, it will be, "Take him, and bind him hand and foot, and cast him into a furnace of fire." "For the wages of sin is death." - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Praise the Lord, it is not so with the child of God. But this is the story of your life if you do not trust in Christ for the salvation freely offered to you in His saving work of atonement.

Soli Deo Gloria,


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