Ask just about ANY "Christian schoolchild" (or adult for that matter), "Why did God create man?" and you will receive the standard Catechism -- "Man's purpose is to reveal (manifest) His (God's) Glory".
Now this poses an interesting question and dilemma !!
This same cloud of "circular thinking" seems to cover the mind regarding the subject of "God's Glory". People are quick to espouse the standard "religious jargon" regarding the meaning of the phrase, but few seem to ACTUALLY be able to say EXACTLY what it is or what it means.
For all have sinned (missed the mark - 264) and fall short of (are wanting) the Glory of God ****** For all have sinned (missed the mark - 264) and missed the beauty of God's plan (J.B. Phillips translation) ****** Romans 3:23 (present tense)
From the preceding verse, it would appear that if we do not understand the "Glory of God", we are going to have a hard time understanding "Sin", since the two seem to be linked or related.
"To Miss the Mark" -- or the TRUE Nature of SIN !!
If you ask 100 people what THEY think "SIN" means, you will probably get at least 100 different definitions. If they are "church people", you may get an enumeration of different TYPES of sin, from the lesser or venial to the larger or mortal. Depending upon the religious background (if any) of the individual, "sins" may range from missing church meetings, smoking, drinking alcohol, gambling, wearing immodest clothing, wearing jewelry, dancing, going to movies, coarse language (swearing), lying, cheating -- progressing to stealing, illicit sex (fornication), adultery, rape, killing, and murder. Some might mention the "hidden sins" -- hatred, jealously, envy, lust, pride, judging unjustly, etc. In almost every case (if not EVERY), however, the person will be discussing "acts of sin" and not SIN itself !!
Like a great tree, SIN has many branches and rootlets, but only ONE taproot and trunk. Some of the branches are small and fragile, and easily broken off. These are like what individuals might deem to be the "lesser sins" - moderately easy to overcome if you really wish to do so. Other branches are large and strong. These might be likened to what some regard as the "mortal sins" - VERY hard to break off. Then there are the "hidden sins" - not noticed because they are "underground" like the root system, and therefore often ignored by most people (even "christians"). All of this, however, is merely the OUTGROWTH of "SIN" -- that ORIGINAL event at the dawn of Man's history, and which Jesus Christ became man to overcome and eradicate.
Sad to say, the TRUE nature of SIN has been so confused and obscured (and in MANY cases trivialized) that, in our present day society, we are in a state of NEAR-TOTAL ignorance regarding it. We range from the "secular element", which doesn't recognize sin as having ANY existence, to the "religious element". The latter, over its 2,000 year history, has ranged from saying that SIN had its beginnings in sexual desire on Adam's part (early Church Father Augustine) - and that it is libido (concupiscence - SEX) which causes the original sin to pass from parents to children (Thomas Aquinas) - to decreeing that women wearing makeup is sin (extreme fundamentalists).
Strong's Concordance provides these definitions for the words rendered "sin" in the Old and New Testaments:
Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men left-handed; everyone could sling stones at a hairbreadth, and not miss (sin - 2398). ****** Judges 20:16
You shall know that your tent is in peace. You shall visit your fold, and shall miss (sin - 2398) nothing. ****** Job 5:24
For before the law was given, sin (266) was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin (266) (sin is not reckoned) when there is no law. ****** Romans 5:13
7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin (266) ? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin (266) except through the law. For indeed, I would not have known covetousness if the law had not said, "Do not covet." 7:8 But sin (266), seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the law, sin (266) is dead. ****** Romans
14:22 The faith you have, keep to yourself before God. Blessed is the one who does not judge himself by what he approves. 14:23 But the man who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not do so from faith, and whatever is not from faith is sin (266). ****** Romans
All is pure to those who are pure. But to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their minds and consciences are corrupted. **** Titus 1:15
So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin (266). ****** James 4:17
Everyone who practices sin (266) also practices lawlessness; indeed, sin (266) is lawlessness. ****** 1 John 3:4
Upon examining the preceding verses and concordant definition, it would appear that "SIN", rather than being confined to SPECIFIC acts or omissions, seems to be nothing less than "falling short of (missing, wanting) God's Glory" !! It would appear to consist of failing to "measure up to" or to meet a particular standard, or failing to abide by KNOWN and required expectations. The question then becomes, "Exactly WHAT is this 'Glory of God' that we have missed or are wanting of ??"
It seems that "Glory" can be both a noun and a verb - to HAVE "Glory" and to GIVE "Glory". ONE definition of this would seem to be -- ["Glory of God" (N) - His Divine Nature -- splendor, brightness, magnificence, excellence, wisdom, preeminence, dignity. "To Glory" (V) - praise, honor, rejoice (in).]
To put it simply (though it is decidedly NOT simple, since the FULL conception is beyond our ability to FULLY comprehend) -- God's GLORY is a manifestation of His Nature, His essential being, of WHO and WHAT He truly is - not JUST a list of "theological attributes" - but the FULL living reality of His infinite life and power.
However, God HAS made it possible for us limited, finite humans to comprehend all that we presently NEED to know of His "Glory". He has done this by the revelation of His basic attributes and nature within the veil of human flesh - these "earthen (clay) vessels" - by the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ, in human form. Jesus Himself claimed, "If you have seen ME then you have seen my Father".
Certainly He did NOT mean that His Father had His physical form, but that ALL of the essential attributes and nature of the two were the same.
1:15 He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form. **** Colossians For God, who said "Let light shine out of darkness," is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the
For God, who said "Let light shine out of darkness," is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of theknowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. **** 2 Corinthians 4:6
I am going to let William Law, who seems to have greater insight into this question that anyone else whom I have ever read, give you HIS answer.
Basically, Law says that MAN was originally created as a two-part being -- a divine part (existing in God's realm, heaven) which was to contain, manifest, reflect the Nature (Glory) of God and a human part (inhabiting this earthly creation). When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost their divine "Glory" and their connection with God, and became like the beasts of THIS world. Being severed from the life and spirit of God, they could NO longer be nor fulfill their created intention. Hence, from THAT day to today, ALL of man's works and effort are basically "SIN", for they ALL "fall short of and/or miss the mark" of the GLORY for which he was created. Man's salvation, redemption, or being "born again" consists of nothing less than being reunited with God's Spirit as he was at his creation - and being transformed so as to again possess and display God's nature (His Glory). Click [ HERE ].
There is an excellent book which conveys eloquently what I am trying to say entitled, "You Will Receive Power", by William Law.
The "Glory of God" In the Face of Jesus Christ
I commented the other day to someone in our church that I had just read "The Attributes of God", by Tozer. In answer to their question of, "What did you think of it?", I replied that, in MY view, he portrayed a very "Old Testament, religious" picture of God. At this, the person became quite indignant, replying that Tozer was a VERY loving, gentle man. I replied what I was not commenting upon the quality of his love, but upon his portrayal of God in his book.
It would be best if you read the book for yourself and draw your OWN conclusions. You may purchase cheap copies [ HERE ].
To clarify my response, when I say an "Old Testament, religious" view of God, I am saying that it is one stressing His distance from us, His splendor and grandeur, His magnificence and overwhelming "Glory" and magnitude. It is one emphasizing how small we are and how great He is - our insignificance by comparison - His purity and "holiness" vs. our sinfulness. Each chapter in the book is devoted to one of these "Theological Attributes": God's Infinitude, God's Immensity, God's Goodness, God's Justice, God's Mercy, God's Grace, God's Omnipresence, God's Immanence, God's Holiness, and God's Perfection. You may also read an overview of each chapter [ HERE ].
You may be now asking, "So WHERE is the problem? I agree completely with Tozer." I am sure that you may. The majority of "loving" Christians do. In THEORY, Tozer had a good point to these sermons (of which this book was composed) -- mainly that too many Christians today have MUCH too small a vision of God -- hence they have a VERY small, superficial "christian life". They often think of Him (at best) as a VERY good man a little bigger than they themselves are or (at worst), as the "Heavenly Santa Claus" or the slightly senile "Heavenly Grandfather" who is on call to see that ALL of His grandchildren's selfish, self-centered whims and wishes are catered to.
However, the way to cure one misconception is NOT by introducing another which, in ITS own way, is equally bad. It is true that a trivial, superficial view of God will produce a trivial, superficial "christian". It is equally true that a view of God as remote, unreachable and untouchable will continue to produce EXACTLY what it has for the past 2,000 years -- the "Church of Jesus Christ" as an institution of dead theological labels and concepts, in very large part devoid of the life and living reality of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit !!
Someone once remarked that we "become like that which we worship". To paraphrase God's Word, "We will be transformed into the image of our 'god', be it for good or for evil".
You have put off the old man with its practices and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. **** Colossians 3:9,10
We all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image
We all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image(that of Jesus Christ) from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit. **** 2 Corinthian 3:18
A vast portion of today's "christian church" would be much happier with the Temple of Solomon in all of its "grandeur and gilded glory" and a Messiah leading His armies against its enemies than with the despised, crucified Nazarene carpenter -- preaching love, peace and acceptance even for their enemies -- and telling them that His Kingdom is NOT of this world.
One of the reasons that the Nation of Israel rejected Jesus Christ as it's Messiah (no doubt) was that THEIR national vision was for the return of an earthly leader after the order of King David and King Solomon, robed in earthly splendor, power and glory. Such, they thought, would deliver Israel from their earthly enemies (the Romans), reestablish their worldwide kingdom, and return them once more to their former glory (as under King Solomon) as world rulers.
They had no stomach for a despised, Nazarene carpenter -- preaching love, peace and acceptance even for their enemies -- making little of their Law and their revered temple -- and telling them that His Kingdom is NOT of this world. In one of His parables, Jesus revealed their heart:
His citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, "We do not want this man to be king (reign) over us!" **** Luke 19:14
I FULLY endorse Tozer's concept that ALL of the superlatives that we could possibly come up with would not even BEGIN to convey the "Glory" which IS God, which surrounds and radiates from Him, and constitutes the reality of His existence. My point, however, is that while God choose to reveal a small portion of this "Glory" to His people in the Old Testament, that they might have a glimpse of Him such as their human frames could endure - "hidden behind a veil, as such" -- this is NOT His ULTIMATE revelation of Himself. He NOW tells us that the TRUE image, the one that He wants to reveal to His children and friends, has been revealed NOT in superlative words, concepts and demonstrations, but rather, "as His image is revealed in the face of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ!!"
One of the human attributes that is just as prevalent INSIDE the "church" as outside (especially in today's culture and society) is that we want BIG -- grandiose, magnificent, showy, visually impressive -- hence the "Disney World and Las Vegas" mentality. We want our heroes to be the ultimate "supermen" -- towering above the masses with the "look, sound and feel" of Power and Authority.
Thus has it always been within the corrupted human heart. In Babel they said:
"Come, let's build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves." **** Genesis 11:4
When Israel took it into their hearts to have an EARTHLY King (instead of God) so that they "might be like ALL of the other peoples", they looked ONLY upon the exterior form and choose one who "excited" the outer (natural) man.
He had a son named Saul, a handsome young man. There was no one among the Israelites more handsome than he was; he stood head and shoulders above all the people. **** 1 Samuel 9:2
Thus it is today, as it has been for the last 2,000 years within the so-called "church of Jesus Christ". Unlike its Master (Jesus), who:
Had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow him. He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. **** Isaiah 53:2,3
Jesus said to him, "Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." **** Matthew 8:20
We want our "churches" to be magnificent temples of earthly splendor, beauty, opulence, vanity and extravagance (that they might bring "Glory to God" -- so we CLAIM !!). We would have our "ministers" robed in vestments befitting the high priest in Solomon's temple, crowned with all of the glories, honors, titles, power and prestige that THIS world has to offer. We would have our theological seminaries (cemeteries ??) overflowing with all of the corrupt knowledge, worldly learning, and "wisdom" that the "god of THIS world" and the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" can supply. Finally, we would have our "god" crowned with all of the superlative titles and attributes that "glory seeking" humanity can supply for him.
In the midst of all of this preoccupation with "earthly riches and glory", however, where is the Living Presence of Jesus Christ - where is the Active Power of His Holy Spirit - where is the New Man birthed in Righteous and Holiness - where is the New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven reflecting God's TRUE Glory as seen in the face of His Son Jesus Christ ???
Woe to us mere mortals --- THIS is NOT God's heart nor way !!!!
To Moses God proclaimed, "My Glory is NOT to be found in the flames of the burning bush nor in my victory over Pharaoh nor even in the thundering and fire on Mt. Moriah -- but it is rather in my compassion, my mercy, my graciousness and my love."
33:18 Moses said, "Show me your glory." 33:19 And the Lord said, "I will make all my goodness pass before your face, and I will proclaim the Lord by name before you; I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy." 34:5 The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the Lord by name. 34:6 The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed: "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, 34:7 keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children and children's children, to the third and fourth generation." **** Exodus
To Elijah, He revealed that His TRUE presence was NOT in mighty external acts, but rather in the "still small voice (moving)" of His Spirit.
19:11 The Lord said (to Elijah), "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord. Look, the Lord is ready to pass by." A very powerful wind went before the Lord, digging into the mountain and causing landslides, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the windstorm there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 19:12 After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a soft whisper (still, small voice KJV) (Heb "a voice, calm, soft."). **** 1 Kings
When Naaman, the commander of the king of Syria's army, came to Israel looking for healing, he went away offended because He was told to do a simple thing, whereas he was looking for some grandiose, religious ritual. Have not we, as "christians", likewise become so enamored with "religious mumbo-jumbo" that we fail to recognize the "still, small voice" of God's Spirit when He speaks to us ??
5:9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood in the doorway of Elisha’s house. 5:10 Elisha sent out a messenger who told him, "Go and wash seven times in the Jordan; your skin will be restored and you will be healed." 5:11 Naaman went away angry. He said, "Look, I thought for sure he would come out, stand there, invoke the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the area, and cure the skin disease. 5:12 The rivers of Damascus, the Abana and Pharpar, are better than any of the waters of Israel! Could I not wash in them and be healed?" So he turned around and went away angry. **** 2 Kings
When God speaks by His prophets concerning things to come in the Kingdom of Christ, He never says, "I will build again the Temple of Solomon which I destroyed", but rather,"I will build again the Tabernacle of David which is fallen down".
Now when David came to recover the Ark of the Covenant (which was a symbol of God's presence), which had been captured by the Philistines, to the amazement of all, he did not return it to Gibeon where the Tabernacle of Moses was. Instead, he decided to build a new tent in Zion (Jerusalem, probably on a slope of Mt. Moriah) and called it the "Tabernacle of David". He then put the Ark of the Covenant there.
Chiefly, it is to be observed that this sojourn of the ark on Mount Zion is the foundation of the many references in the Psalms and the Prophets to Zion, as the dwelling place of Jehovah, and is what gives to the terms "Zion" and "Mount Zion" their high spiritual meaning. It is a most significant fact, whereof we must take due notice if we are to understand some of the most important of the prophecies, that never thereafter was Mount Moriah, where Solomon's magnificent temple stood, referred to as Jehovah's dwelling place, but always Mount Zion.
The Lord said to Samuel, "Don't be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." **** 1 Samuel 16:7
Therefore he told me, these signify the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: "Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit", says the Lord who rules over all. **** Zechariah 4:6
Therefore he told me, these signify the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: "Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit", says the Lord who rules over all. **** Zechariah 4:6
The "Glory" which God wishes men to see is NOT His "Grand, Theological Attributes", more befitting an appearance in Solomon's Temple, but rather the "Hidden Glory" revealed to us "in the face of Jesus Christ" -- the heart and nature of Jesus veiled in humility within a "clay pot".
11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle (meek) and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry. **** Matthew
13:12 So when Jesus had washed their feet and put his outer clothing back on, he took his place at the table again and said to them, "Do you understand what I have done for you? 13:13 You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and do so correctly, for that is what I am. 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you too ought to wash one another's feet. 13:15 For I have given you an example -- you should do just as I have done for you."
15:13 No one has greater love than this -- that one lays down his life for his friends. 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15:15 I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father. **** John
For us - His people, His children - He is NOT some distant king or potentate, to be feared or reverenced at a distance -- too magnificent and superb to be reachable and touchable. He is NOT so lofty and mighty (so "high and lifted up") that He can not be touched and moved by our needs, weaknesses and infirmities.
We are told (KJV) to approach God "BOLDLY":
We do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently (boldly) approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. **** Hebrews 4:14,15
It was (at least in large part) due to the fallacy that I am here addressing that the "damnable heresy" of "Mary Worship" came to be in the Roman Church. They had made the Father and Jesus so unreachable in the eyes of the common man that the people came up with the idea that surely Mary, a woman of flesh and blood, would understand their plight and intercede with her Son on behalf of the penitent. After all, what son would refuse the request of his loving mother ??
God's Word, the Scriptures, say that we, who have been redeemed by the "Blood of Christ", are no longer aliens or strangers. We have been adopted into the family. We are sons and friends. We are entitled to address OUR Father in the same manner as Jesus addressed His (for they are ONE and the same Father).
There is some controversy amongst teachers as to EXACTLY what the word "Abba" means. It is not a translation but rather a "transliteration", meaning it was taken as is from the original language. Some believe that it is an Aramaic word that a child might use in addressing its father (daddy). Others believe that it merely denotes possession, as in "MY father". In any case, it IS agreed that it is a "family term".
He (Jesus) said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." **** Mark 14:36
You did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, "Abba, Father." **** Romans 8:15
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who calls "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if you are a son, then you are also an heir through God. **** Galatians 4:6,7
Now, it MIGHT be said by some (MANY??) that what I am saying may well have SOME measure of truth in it, but will it not tend toward the dishonoring of God's "great name" and a diminishing of who and what He is ?? Before I address this point, let us take a look at some of the "Theological Distinctives" that men like Tozer are MORE than happy to embrace as "undergirdings of Orthodox Christianity". Let us look at how THEY "honor God":
First, we have the doctrine of "Eternal Torment in Hell". I believe that this topic requires much more than just a brief comment, so I am going to direct you to a THROUGH examination [ HERE ].
And we wonder why non-Christians laugh at us ???? There IS a sane, rational, God honoring THEORY of the atonement (they are ALL theories - we certainly don't REALLY have any idea how it ACTUALLY accomplished its goal) expoused by William Law called (I believe) "Transformational Atonement". Briefly it states:
You may glean some interesting insights and oversights from an excellent book, "C.S. Lewis & Francis Schaeffer: Lessons for a New Century from the Most Influential Apologists of Our Time" - cheap copies are available [ HERE ].
In closing, I want to express MY opinion, at least as relating to GOOD earthly fathers, that I don't believe that ANY son (or daughter) rebelled against, disrespected nor dishonored their father because he loved them (and they him) too much, spent too much time with them, drew them too close, and got to know them too well (in other words, they were VERY familiar with each other).
On the other hand, I believe that MANY sons (and daughters) rebelled against, disrespected and dishonored their father because he was (or appeared to be) distant and aloof - appeared unreachable, unapproachable and untouchable - appeared unreasonably demanding and stern - and did NOT appear to be open to a congenial, loving relationship.
The Nature And Power Of Sin, by Timothy Lin, Ph.D.
When Cain discovered that only Abel's offering was accepted, instead of seeking the cause for his own rejection and correcting it, he became angry with God and Abel. Resentment, anger, and hatred welled up within him and were expressed on his face. God did not immediately judge him for his rebellious attitude, but appeared to him in preventive grace.
First, He promised to give him "lifting" if he would have faith in Him and would desire to do right in His sight. "If you do well, shall you not be accepted?" has been counted by some as the most difficult verse in the chapter. In fact, the problem is not as complicated as it appears. The verb "do well," or "do not well," in the following sentence is from the verb yatabh means "to be good." It is in the causative form, and hence means "to cause to be good." Its literal translation here would be "Behold, if you would make yourself to be good, there will be a lifting." "Accepted" in the original is the infinitive construct of the verb nasa meaning "to lift up," hence "lifting up of [one's countenance]." The idea of such a "lifting up of" face is very close to the idiomatic expression "giving face"; thus "accepted" would be a correct translation in English. The Preshito and Vulgate both have a similar translation, although the Septuagint has a different interpretation. Thus, etymologically, doing good as a personal responsibility is clearly indicated here. It is true, spiritually speaking, no one can be good in God's sight by his own efforts; nevertheless, a sense of personal responsibility for one's own actions is necessary for God's working in one "that which is well-pleasing in His sight" (Heb. 13:21).
God's second reasoning with Cain was really a warning: "And if you do not well sin lies at the door". Sin had gained entrance into the world by action in the last period, but was given no name until this period when, for the first time in Scripture, sin was called "chattath". The Lord named it and described it in detail so that the reality of sin as the antithesis to God's love may be known by Cain and all mankind. Both the form of "chattath" and its nature are very peculiar here. In order to understand its peculiarities, further study is necessary.
There are two ways to define things: nominally and essentially. "Nominally" means to derive a definition out of the word itself, while "essentially" refers to a definition from the very nature of the thing. For instance, the nominal definition of Adam is "man made of dust," while the essential definition is "a sinner, dead to God and condemned" (See Rom. 5:16-19). The nominal definition of Messiah is "the anointed one," since this passive noun is derived from the verb "to anoint," while its essential definition is "a priest, a prophet and a king," the three offices of our Lord. Sin can be defined in these two ways. From its nominal definition, sin is not simply moral or ethical defects. Many things may be adequate morally or ethically, and yet be sin in God's sight. Moses' smiting the rock twice to produce abundant water (Num. 20:8,11), Uzzah's taking hold of the ark instead of letting God take care of it (2 Sam. 6:6), and Peter's sympathy to Jesus' suffering (Matt. 16:21-23) were all good deeds. Morally or ethically speaking, those incidents were not blameworthy, yet they were all counted as sin in God's sight. The word "chattath" (sin) is derived from the verb "chata" , "to miss the mark", and is used in Judges 20:16 to describe those slingers who did not "miss their mark". Thus the nominal definition of sin is "missing the mark set by God", which is lack of conformity to God's will. God has ordained definite means and end for every action and has set the right time and way of doing everything. If anything or any action is not carried out according to God's means, end, time, and method, no matter how moral and ethical it may be, it is sin.
For its essential definition, the nature of sin can be seen from its morphology and syntax:
First, sin is attractive. The form of the word itself is in the feminine gender, denoting the attractiveness of sin in its seductive appeal, while its actual gender is masculine as indicated by the following modifying masculine participle robhets (crouching), denoting the destructive power and tyrannous nature of sin. Thus sin is double gendered. It would never approach a person with its ugly face, but always with sweet appearance, sympathetic talking, and affectionate touching. When sin has caught the victim, however, it binds him with its cords (See Prov. 5:22) and slays him (See Rom. 7:11).
Second, sin is intensive and forcible. Besides its actual masculine gender, the extreme strength of sin is also shown by the intensive form of the noun "chattath", indicated by the doubling of its second radical, tt. It can even rob some people of sleep until they do wrong (See Prov. 4:16), or cause others to be like the troubled sea without ever having rest (See Is. 57:20).
Third, sin is aggressive. The ever militant activity of sin is expressed by the nature of the Hebrew active participle - which expresses active and continuous action in the past, present, and future - to describe its ceaseless crouching or lying in wait, as a lion being ever ready to spring upon anyone going out the door. Keil and Delitzsch described it well. "The feminine "chattath" is construed as a masculine . . . Sin is personified as a wild beast, lurking at the door of the human heart, and eagerly desiring to devour his soul." This personification of sin as an unrestrained animal might have laid the foundation for the revelation much later of Satan as a roaring lion walking about seeking whom he might devour (See 1 Pet. 5:8).
God made it plain to Cain that he had no reason to be angry with Him and Abel, and that he had to realize the power of sin and its consequence upon himself. In later revelation, "chattath" would come to mean both sin and sin offering. In the Authorized Version, it is translated as sin 169 times, sin offering 116 times, punishment and purification for sin twice each, and punishment of sin and purifying once each. It is a remarkable message that where there is sin, there is the punishment of sin and yet there is also a sin offering. Surely this is the embryonic form of the distant revelation "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Rom. 5:20). Thus God brought to Cain's attention that although sin and punishment were crouching at the entrance, the sin offering and purification for sin were also there. However, Cain himself had to make the final decision between life and death, blessing and curse, since he alone was responsible for mastering the ever-present sin (Genesis 4:7). Unfortunately, Cain chose the latter, rejecting God's reasoning, and as a result committed the first murder on the earth.