Have you ever said, “Oops!” before? Driving through a hidden stop sign. Forgetting to put coins in the parking meter. Getting home from a busy shopping trip and realizing you didn’t pay for an item.
We all do things wrong. Um…that doesn’t make me a bad person, does it?
It’s these unintentional things that the Bible calls “Sin”. Sin is a word that is often misunderstood.
In the Hebrew it’s the word “CHATA’” (Khaw-taw). The Hebrew for one of the many sacrificial offering is chatot, from the same root as the word chait. This offering — called in English a “sin offering” — can only be brought for something done unintentionally. In fact, if a person purposely committed a violation, he is forbidden to bring a chatot. It is truly a “mistake offering”.
In the Book of Judges (20:16), slingers from the tribe of Benjamin are described as being so good with their weapon that they can “aim at a hair and not chait.” Could this mean to “aim at a hair and not sin“? It makes no sense.
To shed some light is the Greek word “HAMARTANO”. This is an ancient Greek Archery term. It is because of this term the English translators used the word “SIN”.
The word “sin” originally comes from the early English Middle Ages (think Robin Hood) and was a technical term used in archery meaning “to miss the mark”. It was an absolute term meaning that the degree to which you had missed the mark was irrelevant. What was important was that the mark had been missed. It didn’t matter by HOW MUCH you miss the mark…a little or a lot…5 degrees or 45 degrees or whether you shot the arrow in the opposite direction. A sin was a sin.
It’s the same thing in life. There are many things we do “wrong” unintentionally — but they still hold consequences! Accidentally running a stop sign will still earn you a ticket even if you WOULD have stopped had you seen it.
What if you broke a law in another country where you were unaware of the laws? Did you know…?
- It is illegal to ride a streetcar on Sunday if have been eating garlic in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- In Somalia, Africa, it’s been decreed illegal to carry old chewing gum stuck on the tip of your nose.
- In San Salvador, drunk drivers can be punished by death before a firing squad.
“But I didn’t know” will not be much of a claim as you are taken to be SHOT!
“But really?” you ask. “I mean, I really tried to do my best…”
Imagine you are hiking with a friend and you come to a gorge. It’s a 15 footer, but, hey, you’ve been watching the Olympics, so you might be able to make it. Your friend jumps and misses by about a foot and a half…and lands on the rocks below. Poor guy…your turn. You back up and run with all your might and take an incredible, flying leap across the gorge. Reaching out, your fingers brush the edge…and down you go.
CLOSE DOESN’T COUNT…in SIN, it doesn’t matter by how much you miss. Every SIN puts us in front of the Firing Squad. Regardless of how less than perfect you are…you are still less than perfect.
So what to do? Am I doomed to die? I thought God was a LOVING God? Can’t God forgive me?
Here’s the rub: He can forgive YOU because he loves YOU, but He can’t just forgive your SIN. Sin must be dealt with! So it’s the firing squad for you…
BUT! Jesus, the Master Archer, the Olympic Long Jumper, is perfect, so he dies FOR you! Once and for all! In fact, He is SO perfect, He comes back to life while leaving your sins (AND MINE) behind.
“What joy for those whose sin is no longer counted against them by the Lord…For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” — Romans 4:8, 6:23