(continued from part 2)
When people think about the word “sin”, they think about the sin nature acted out, or acted upon. Those are the outworkings of sin, usually called “sins” (plural, since they take several forms, depending on the context in which the sin nature is acted out). The entire book of Romans of Romans mention “sin” (singular, meaning sin as a principle or force) well over 40 times (including derived words like “sinful”), and the word “sins” meaning “acts of sin” only 3 times! If you read the first 8 chapters of Romans through this lense, they will make perfect sense. The issue is the sin force / nature, which generates acts of sin (sins) and which end in death. We can simply refer to the sin force as “malfunction”, and acts or manifestations of it as “breakdowns”, for the sake of simplicity.
If sin is malfunction, righteousness is the original perfect functionality. We can substitute that word with “being made right”, or “rightness”, or “right functionality”.
(continued from part 1)
God was on a quest to restore things to the original perfect condition. Since humans had authority on planet Earth, God sent a human (Jesus) with Earth-authority to reverse the effects of Adam’s gigantic misstep. Part of the greatest achievement of Jesus is that he absorbed all the malfunction into himself, and died with it:
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
There it is! Jesus didn’t become sinful, he became sin – he became malfunction itself. So naturally, death had to follow.
Now, for the second part of what Jesus has accomplished. When he rose up from the dead, he had no malfunction / sin left – it was gone! Now, Jesus didn’t just get restored to his original condition. Before his death and resurrection, Jesus was sinless (perfect), but he did get “infected”, as it were, with our sin. He did it by choice, but still. After his resurrection, being contaminated with “sin” became a logical impossibility.
In my earlier post on what sin is, I explained that sin is entropy, or disorder, in an ordered system. Since that post, I’ve arrived at even better explanation. That right here ought to tell you that my views are not static, and I progress in understand more things that uncover the beauty of God’s original design, and his plan for restoration of that original design (perfection can only be restored, it cannot be improved upon, by definition). I am amazed at the plan’s coherence, orchestration, and simplicity (it actually is simple if you abstract your thinking above the majestic complexity of its inner workings).
Let’s start with this: imagine a perfect symbiotic system – everything is perfect, the interrelationships are perfect, nothing is wasted. Then at some point malfunction gets introduced into the system. One part of the system is not perfect now, and since everything is interrelated, the malfunction spreads to other parts of the system, sort of like a virus. You see where I am going with this. The system is the “world / universe”, and that systemic malfunction is what the Scriptures call “sin” – a noun in singular. The specific effects or expressions of that malfunction, which would be manifested as specific breakdowns, are “sins” (a noun in plural).
Let’s just put off the mantle and the gavel of a moral arbiter for this exercise, and let’s examine this issue from an engineer perspective.
(continued from part 1)
Paul says that he will gladly boast in his infirmities, as a counter-argument of boasting in his strength. Here, the word “infirmities” has nothing to do with sickness, since sickness is not even discussed anywhere in the passage, and doesn’t even fit with the context of what was being said. The Greek word for weakness is “astheneia”, which literally means “lack of strength”. Paul is pointing to his lack of strength in the natural that would be adequate for dealing with this issue at hand, which is a series of satan-originated violent acts against him. Religious people followed him from city to city, stirred up crowds against Paul, which ended in brutality and violence toward Paul, including being stoned (in a non-narcotic way).
Here’s passage that’s often quoted (usually out of context) and is just as often misunderstood:
2 Corinthians 12:5-10
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
First, let’s give this a little context. 2 Corinthians is dated approximately at about AD 55-58, most likely historically placing it in Acts chapter 20, in Macedonia (northern Greece). Here are some highlights of the difficulties that happened in Paul’s ministry up to that point (listed in sequence; the years depending on the dating scheme used could be off by 1-2 years):
~ 48 A.D.
province: Galatia / city: Antioch (of Pisidia)
50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.
In the previous post, we talked about how to differentiate between different active personal forces and their roles in the events that we consider.
How do we apply this to inform our theological worldview?
In the very beginning, God designed things in this world to function in a certain way. If you cooperate with the design, you will reap the rewards deriving from your understanding and correct usage of the system. If you go against the design, you will reap the penalty of your own ignorance. The law of gravity works to keep out feet planted on the ground and prevents us from floating in the air when we walk. We cooperate with the law, and we make it work for us. The very same law works when someone jumps off a tall building. We operate against the law, and now it works against us. Note how in both cases, it works the same exact way, but the results are different.
You can’t blame a designer for misusing his design. The designer is responsible for communicating his design; the user is responsible for familiarizing himself with instructions, and if the designer is accessible – with the instructor. Well, in our case, the design is well-described in the Scriptures, and the designer is very accessible, 24×7!