Church Education Trust

Christian Belief

ST005/5 The Origin of Sin.


The Origin of Sin.

(a) The Origin of Sin in the Universe.

It is clear from the Scriptures that sin originated in the universe before entering man. Man was tempted by a personality outside of himself. This person was called Satan and Scripture teaches that sin in the world and in man originated from him and that he and his associates have been responsible for a great deal of the evil throughout the history of the world apart from man's own personal sin and rebellion.

Concerning the origin of evil in Satan himself and thus in the universe, the Bible has little to say and does little more than offer suggestions in such passages as Ezek.28:1-19 and Isa.14:4-23 (cf. also Jude 6). The question as to the origin of sin has baffled thinkers throughout the ages and neither philosophically nor from the Bible can the matter be finally solved.

It is not possible to say more than that sin had its origin "in the abuse of freedom in intelligent, responsible creatures." The Bible does not encourage philosophical speculation on matters which are beyond human solution and for the Christian the above is
and must be sufficient.

On the other hand, in our present study, it is as well for us to know something of the philosophical theories concerning the origin of sin and so we shall mention these briefly first, then add something concerning the Scripture teaching about Satan.

(i) Philosophical Theories.

As mentioned above, the subject has always been a problem and theories were produced by philosophers long before the time of Christ. Philosophical thought concerning sin again became popular during the years following the Reformation and the Renaissance. It is not the purpose of these notes to mention all the various philosophers and their theories but only to refer to the main theories concerning the subject.

These are divided into two main classes by names which explain themselves
Necessitarian, which emphasize that sin is a necessity, unavoidable and part of the universe, and Libertarian, which emphasize the fact of freedom and its abuse.

a.Necessitarian Theories. 

These are of five types,

  1. Pantheistic which must either deny the existence of sin altogether or make God its author.
  2. Theories of what is called Finite Limitation, this means that sin is merely limitation of knowledge or power, or a mere negation; Scripture and experience testify against sin being a mere negation, it is real and positive however negative it may be in its results; if it is limitation of knowledge or power, then it must remain forever because finite beings can never become infinite.
  3. Gnostic, which hold that sin lies in matter and is inherent in it; sin, however, is described in terms of personality and is only possible to persons.
  4. Modern Evolutioinary, which state that the higher spiritual elements are devloped from the lowers that sin is the remains of the animal in man and that the higher can never completely overtake the lower.
  5. Dualistic, which maintain that there are two eternal principles in the universe, good and evil or spirit and matter and this will always be so.
  6. Liberterian Theories. These can he divided into, (1) Pelagiannism, this will occur repeatedly during our theological study, though it really deals more with the universality of sin than its ultimate origin, sufficient to say here that it emphasizes the freedom of the will to such an extent as to make sin not to lie in any state or condition, but purely in each successive wrong choice; thus Satan`s first wrong choice had no effect on others and was only the origin of sin in the sense that it was the first sin.
    (2) Pre-Existence Theory which has point only in connection with the theory of the pre-existence of souls; these souls fell before entering this life, this still does not in any way account for the ultimate origin of sin in the universe.                             

(ii) The Doctrine of Satan.

As far as Scripture teaching is concerned! Sin entered this world through the agency of Satan and the sin of Adam and Eve. While, as has been mentioned above, little is said as to the origin of sin in Satan and thus in the universe, a get deal is said concerning Satan himself, his nature, work and kingdom.This is a most interesting study but unfortunately it is not possible in this course to do more than give suggestions and Scripture references for further future study.

a.The Personality of Satan

The Scripture always speaks of Satan as a person and not merely an influence. This is not popular today; we have become too sophisticated; but the fact that Scripture speaks in this way cannot be denied by any unprejudiced mind. The Scripture references are John 13:21 Acts 5:3; 1 Pet.5:8; Eph.6:11-12; Rev.20:2; Luke 22:31.

b.The Nature of Satan

His nature can be seen in the names which are given to him. He is called "Satan" which means "adversary", "accuser", "deceiver" (cf.Gen.3:5, Job 1; Zech.3:1; John 8:44; Eph.6:11; Rev.12:9). He is also called "Devil", which means "slanderer", "calumniator", "destroyer of peace".

Once in the New Testament (2 Cor.6:15) he is called "Belial" which means "worthless", and in Rev.9:71 he is termed "Abaddon" or "Apollyon" which are respectively the Hebrew and Greek equivalents of "Destroyer".

This same idea is brought out in the First Epistle of Peter where he writes, "For your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (ch.5:8).

c.The Kingdom and Power of Satan.

There is a great deal of information in the Scriptures concerning this. The location of his kingdom is seen to be this earth and the atmosphere surrounding it, see Job 1; Eph.2:2; John 12:31; 14:30; 2 Cor.4:4; 1 John 5:19i ). His subjects are powerful, spirit beings (given the sane name, "angels", as is given to God's spiritual emissaries), and often human beings. (see Eph.6:12; Rev.12:9; Dan.10:73--20; Rev.16:14 John 13:27).

Satan, however, is a created person and is, therefore, neither omnipresent, omnipotent, nor omniscient, and so, often when we speak of Satan working, we mean one of his emissaries. Job chapter 1 makes this clear as also passages concerning his origin. His kingdom is a religious one and his subjects worship him (1 Cor.l0:19,20 & Rev.13). It is clear, too, that he is the Anti-Christ (1 John 4:1-3 & 2 Thess.2) and is persistently opposed to Christ.

d.The Methods of Satan.

His methods naturally tally with his nature and he deceives, lies, and opposes Christ. (See Luke 22:31; 2 Cor.11:74; 1 Thess. 1 Thess.2:l8; James 3:14 ff; Rev.12:9,10.)

e.The Defeat of Satan.

The Scriptures declare that Satan is a defeated foe, even although he is being allowed to carry out many of his plans and purposes during this age. Christ., however, accomplished his defeat by His cross and resurrection (John 12:31; Heb.2:14; 1 John 3:8). The believer may have present victory over him (Rev.12:11; Phil.2:10,11; Rom.8:37; Acts 16:18), and his final defeat is certain as the last chapters of Revelation assure us.

To sum up the matter of the origin of sin in the universe, the Scripture states nothing further than that sin originated with Satan and the angels who fell with him. For the Christian this is sufficient and no human thought has been able to discover anything more.

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