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9-18-22 Great Themes of the Bible—Sin

Sin—Great Themes of the Bible

David Peterson / General

Great Themes of the Bible / Sin / 1 John 3:4–10

Sermon Type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: Sins are a missing of the mark and being a sinner means living with no aim or purpose (as a lawless one). Jesus delivers us from sin and from being sinners.


1. Great themes of the Bible.

2. Whatever Became of Sin? Karl Menninger, published 1973

I. To Sin is to Miss the Mark (1 John 3:4)

1. The English word sin in this verse is the Greek word Harmartia. In Greek thinking it meant:

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume (ἁμαρτωλός)

The basic thought is “not hitting” or “missing.”

2. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

3. Experienced as guilt—having done wrong, more than mere mistake

Conscience is like a sundial. When the sun shines upon a sundial it points us to the right time. In the same way our consciences point us in the right direction in life. However, it’s important to remember that the sundial works only when the sun is shining upon it. When the moonlight shines on the dial it points to the wrong time. When a torch is shone upon the sundial it again points us to the wrong time. In these instances the sundial is unreliable. In the same way our consciences are sometimes unreliable because the “light” shining upon them is not the voice of God, but the voices of our families or our culture or even Satan. In these instances we’ll feel false guilt over things that should not make us feel guilty, or no guilt over things that should! The key for the Christian is to have their conscience continually illuminated by God’s Spirit.

Source: reported in John White, The Fight

II. To Sin is To Be Aimless (1 John 3:4)

1. Guilt points to purpose, way it should be, a law of our being and good and evil

2. Greek word for lawless is anomia.

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (ἀνομία)

state or condition of being disposed to what is lawless, lawlessness

The Syntopicon: An Index to the Great Ideas (Introduction > Chapter 30: Good and Evil)

The contemporary discussion of good and evil draws its terminology from economics rather than theology. The word “value” has almost replaced “good” and “evil.” What in other centuries were the various moral sciences are now treated as parts of the general theory of value. The substitution of “value” for “good” or of “value judgment” for “moral judgment” reflects the influence of economics.

3. Individual sins reflect a state or condition being lawless, against having a law of one’s being.

Original UCC Statement of Faith: He seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin. (adopted in 1959)

The New ‘I Wish I’d Never Been Born’ Movement

In recent years a new “I wish I’d never been born” movement has been emerging in different parts of the world. Just this past February (2020) a 27-year-old Indian man named Raphael Samuel announced he was suing his parents for birthing him. He said, “It was not our decision to be born. Human existence is totally pointless.”

The philosophy began in 2006 with South African philosopher David Benatar and his book Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence. He asserts: “Life is a procession of frustrations and irritations. Many lonely people remain single, while those who marry fight and divorce. People want to be, look, and feel younger, and yet they age relentlessly.” He quotes Ecclesiastes 4:3 as well as the Greek tragedian Sophocles: “Never to have been born is best / But if we must see the light, the next best / Is quickly returning whence we came”

Benatar writes that having children is “intrinsically cruel and irresponsible.” People who decide not to procreate are expressing compassion:

While good people go to great lengths to spare their children from suffering, few of them seem to notice that the one (and only) guaranteed way to prevent all the suffering of their children is not to bring those children into existence in the first place.

Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow “I wish I’d never been born: the rise of the anti-natalists,” The Guardian (11-14-19); David Benatar, Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence (Oxford Presss, 2008), p. 18. cited at

III. Jesus takes Sin away (1 John 3:5)

1. Christ eliminates our guilt 1 John 2.2

1 John 2:2 (KJV 1900)

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 1:7 (KJV 1900)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis, Volumes 1–5 (ἱλάσκομαι)

The need for a ἱλασμός seems to be regarded as self-evident in the light of the character of God and the coming judgment (4:17). But once again atonement is not regarded as something that we do to God, but rather as the expression of God’s love to us (4:10).

2. Restores us to relationship with God

3. Brings about a new state — no longer lawless, purposeless, aimless

I’d never heard anything like it. I was just absorbed, sat there for two or three hours…. He didn’t give a traditional evangelism talk to me; he just kept talking to me about the wisdom of the word of God. He quoted Ecclesiastes 11:3: “Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie.” I just feel certain I’m the only person in church history that was converted by that verse. God just took that verse and struck my soul with it. I saw myself as a log that was rotting in the woods. And I was going nowhere.

When I left that guy’s table, I went up to my room. And in my room by myself, in the dark, I got on my knees and cried out to God to forgive me.

Source: Author and theologian R. C. Sproul, “The Dick Staub Interview: R. C. Sproul’s Testimony,” (12-30-02)


Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place condemned He stood;

Sealed my pardon with His blood.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;

Spotless Lamb of God was He;

“Full atonement!” can it be?

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

(Hallelujah, What a Savior by Philip P. Bass, 1875)


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