Scriptural Gem for September 2015

In Psalm 51:1-2 (NIV) we read: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."

In Daniel 9:24 (NIV) we read: "Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put and end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy."

In Exodus 34:7a (NKJV) we read: "…keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty..."

Finally, in Psalm 32:1-2a (NKJV) we read: "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,..." (emphasis added to all)

In these readings we have three distinct words used to describe what we might traditionally lump together under the English word 'sin.' We may well ask "Why three words?" As we examine these words in the original Hebrew, we find that the problem of 'sin' is more complex than we think.

The word translated 'sin' in our English Bibles is 'chatah' which means 'missing the mark' in the sense that an archer misses the target. This word also carries the meaning of 'error' or 'mistake.'

The Hebrew word for 'transgression' on the other hand, is 'pasha' which is a willful transgression committed to spite God. It suggests defiance, rebellion and a casting off of God's authority.

The third word 'iniquity' is from the Hebrew word 'avon.' It is connected with the idea of perversion or a willful twisting of God's will to our own selfish desires and ends.

I pray that the Holy Spirit would bring blessed conviction of the full scope of our personal transgression, iniquity, and sin, and that we would confess in terms of all these words. May we not be so hardened by sin's deceitfulness that we do not recognise all three issues in our lives. Only then will we come to the throne of grace on our knees knowing our great need of our Saviour, forsaking the foolish notion that we have anything to offer apart from Him. Indeed, "if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8, NIV)

Father, we thank you that your remedy for the complex problem of sin is detailed and complete. Incline our hearts to you, we pray. Amen.