Who Can Say He Is Without Sin?
IF A person were able to live his life without ever breaking an accepted moral standard or code of ethics, could he say that he is without sin? Can it be said that an infant is free from sin because it is incapable of comprehending what is morally right or of doing what is morally right or wrong? Some persons in this materialistic world may be inclined to say Yes. But they fail to realize that sin involves much more than breaking a moral code. It involves the laws of God. No imperfect human is able to obey those laws perfectly, and because he cannot he is guilty of sin. He is missing the mark of perfect obedience to his Creator.
But what about the person who denies a Creator and insists that man’s amazing body is the result of chance, a mere accident, and not the result of intelligent creation? He may maintain that he is without sin, because he does not recognize the existence of divine laws. But while he denies such laws, he is faced with them every moment of his life. Every particle of matter is subject to laws that control it. The entire material universe functions according to specific laws, and, because of this, man has been able to make use of some of them in his applied sciences.
Since laws cannot make themselves, their existence points to a Lawmaker. His wisdom is manifested by the remarkable manner in which they keep the material universe under control and in order. As that One is capable of making laws for inanimate matter, so he is capable of making them for living, intelligent creatures to govern their conduct. Since violation of the laws of “nature” can cause suffering for man, it should not be difficult to understand why the violating of the divine laws that govern man’s conduct can do injury to him. Such violation has brought imperfection and death.
The spirit of disbelief about what pertains to the Creator has made its impression on the religious thought of this modern world. The result has been the conclusion by some professing Christians that sin is confined to the breaking of moral standards and that salvation from it is by character development. Others give their own definition to sin, such as that of one group that says it is “the belief in the real existence of a mind or minds other than the Divine Mind.” To them, salvation from sin means to be saved from “delusions of mortal sense.” These people may claim that they are without sin, when sin is viewed as missing the mark of perfect obedience to God’s laws, because they have given a completely different meaning to the word.
Many professing Christians such as these are inclined to reject the thought that sin by the first man affects anyone today. In this connection Professor Conrad Moehlman of the Rochester Theological Seminary said: “Original sin and guilt basic in the medieval religious synthesis are rejected by the modern man. . . . Original sin and guilt will some day give way to sin understood as a stage of evolution toward the good.” Despite this and similar views among religious and nonreligious peoples, the written Word of the great Lawmaker shows that all humans are affected by the sin of Adam.
Death is now experienced by man, not because death is natural for the human organism, but because of sin by the first man. Its effects have been inherited by his descendants. Scientific study has revealed that the human body continually renews itself and should, theoretically, live indefinitely. That the cause of man’s death is sin and imperfection inherited from Adam is clearly stated in God’s Word: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Rom. 5:12.
Adam and Eve had their offspring after they had sinned, or missed the mark of perfect integrity to God. Since nothing clean can come from something unclean, their children were not free from sin and its penalty of death. This should not be difficult to conceive when it is remembered that many weaknesses can be passed from parents to children by heredity. Since this is so, why should it seem incredible for the effects of Adam’s sin to be passed on to all his descendants? The Scriptures plainly state that “in Adam all are dying.” (1 Cor. 15:22) Nothing is accomplished but self-deception when a person questions the authority of the Scriptures because he does not agree with this.
Since Adamic sin has been inherited by all humans, being passed on from one generation to the next, infants are not free from sin. David pointed this out when he said: “In sin my mother conceived me.” (Ps. 51:5) It is true that they are too young for personally sinning by violating divine laws, but their age has no bearing on the sin that is inherited from Adam. Only by God’s undeserved kindness in providing a ransom sacrifice can a person be released from enslavement to Adamic sin. “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”—1 John 1:7.
Those who deny that they have inherited sin from Adam or that they are guilty of sin against God’s laws because of missing the mark of perfect obedience do not speak the truth when they give voice to their views on this. Whether they be professing Christians or not, the truth is not in their philosophical or religious views. Imagination does not make facts. “If we make the statement, ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us.”—1 John 1:8.
The One whose existence is made evident from the marvelous things we see in this material universe, things that show immeasurable wisdom and power, did not leave man without specific information about Himself and His purposes. He gave man a written guide in which he explains why all humans are imperfect and eventually die. The Holy Bible is that written guide and is the standard for measuring beliefs as true or untrue. In it he has revealed how he made provision for releasing humans from inherited sin and death. Because of God’s undeserved kindness through Christ man will, in due time, be able to say truthfully that he is without sin.