ἁμαρτάνω – hamartanó, a Greek verb used in archery meaning to miss the mark. It is more commonly known as the word “sin”. Our target in life is to have a perfect, communal relationship with God. When we sin we miss the mark or, we do something that damages that relationship with God. In essence, we fail.
When God made man he made him perfect. He wanted for nothing. He didn’t hunger. He didn’t thirst. God gave him dominion over all of the beasts of the land, the birds of the air, and the fish in the sea. It was man’s responsibility to care for the garden.
In the center of the garden God planted the tree of life or the tree of knowledge. God gave man only one rule – don’t eat from this tree. If man ate from this tree he would surely die. Satan tempted man and got him to eat from the tree. Death entered the world and man did die. This was the original sin.
God is omnipotent, he knows all. If he knows all he knew man would fail and eat from the tree. If he knew man would fail why would he plant the tree in the garden in the first place? Surprisingly, God planted the tree so that love could exist. For love to exist there has to be a choice. Love cannot be forced on anyone and you cannot force anyone to love you in return. If God provided for every need of man, man couldn’t possibly love God in return. As long as there is a choice love can exist. Do I love God and show that love for him by being obedient or do I choose my desires over God?
The root of all sin is selfishness, taking for the self. The sin of Eve was the sin of greed. I want for myself that which God does not wish to give. How many ways do we commit this same sin today? In vitro fertilization, consulting physics, reading horoscopes, Ouija boards, and the like are all examples of where we are trying to take for ourselves that which God does not wish to give. I want a baby and can’t get pregnant. I want to know what tomorrow will bring. I want to talk to a departed loved one. We commit this sin when we turn to extraordinary means when ordinary means don’t work or aren’t available.
There are two types of sin – mortal and venial. Mortal sin will kill you, venial sin will not. Mortal sin is a sin so great that it completely destroys your relationship with God. Venial sin damages that relationship but does not sever it completely. Put into a medical analogy; mortal sin is a cancer that will leave you dead. Venial sin is a sore on the skin. Think of how lepers were described in the bible. They were unclean people with sores covering their body. Body parts would rot off and fall away. They were cast out of society. Even their families wouldn’t have anything to do with them.
Only God can forgive sins. Despite the beliefs of some of our non-Catholic brothers this is not an automatic thing. Jesus did die for our sins and the divine blood he shed paid the price of death for all humans who would accept him. Accept him as what? Accept him as Lord and savior. You see, we are all slaves, δοῦλος, doulos in Greek. We all have a master. None of us created ourselves and therefore we do not have rights to our bodies or souls. Through sin death entered the world and Satan became our master. Jesus paid that ransom with his own blood and bought us back from the devil. Redeem means to buy back.
Because God loves us and gave us a free will he respects that will above all else. Even though he paid the price for us he will not force us to leave our master to be his slave if we do not wish to. This is why we have to accept him, accept him as our new Lord and master. Likewise, God is willing to forgive us our sins but he will not force his forgiveness on to us. We have to seek it. We have to ask for it. We have to accept it when it is given. If we never ask for forgiveness he will not give it to us and the wage for sin is death. We go back to being slaves of the devil. At the end of time the devil will rule in hell and all who are his slaves will be cast into hell with him. Do you wish to spend eternity in friendship with God in heaven or slaves to the devil in hell? That is a choice only you can make.
So how does forgiveness work? That’s what we will explore next.
Be a blessing to all you know and allow them to be a blessing to you.