March 10, 2021

Alms, Prayer, & Fasting 6:1-18

Forgiveness v. 12 (see also vv. 14 & 15) – Part 1

Our sinfulness is assumed in scripture, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3:23). And as the apostle John put it, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jo. 1:18). But our sinfulness is not assumed in our twenty-first century secular culture. Indeed the word “sin” is rarely if ever used. “Mistake” maybe. But “sin”?

The thing about the word “sin” is that it implies (requires) accountability. This grates in our new millennial culture. We’re highly individualistic and independent. We “do our thing” — they “do theirs”. We stay out of each other’s hair, connect via social media, and get on with life. In our world accountability is tantamount to judgement. “Judge not that ye be not judged,” once a biblical value, has now become secularized.

So here is a short lesson on sin as it is defined by five exotic Greek words:

1. “Hamartia” means “missing the target” (at least you took aim!)
2. “Parabasis” means “stepping across the line” (on purpose or by accident)
3. “Paraptoma” means “slipping across” or “swept away”
4. “Anomia” means “lawlessness, breaking the law”
5. “Opheilema” means “failure to pay what is due, failure of duty” — This is the word used in Jesus’ prayer

The use of “opheilema” suggests that the translation “debts” is fairly accurate. And unpaid debt is seen as a “sin of omission”. Whereas “trespass” is seen as a “sin of commission”. In either case the sins are against God or neighbor, and we are accountable to both for our inaction or action. Our behavior always has a domino effect. As the old adage says, “No man is an island.”

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