Repentance (4)

Bible Reading: Romans 3:9~20

9 What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written: There is no-one righteous, not even one;11 there is no-one who understands, no-one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no-one who does good, not even one. 13 Their throats are open graves; their tongues practise deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. 14 Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know. 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no-one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

If we are to fully appreciate the meaning of repentance, we must know what it is that we need to repent from. "Repentance from dead works" or "from acts that lead to death" is the first of the "First Principles" listed for us in Hebrews 6:1, 2. To go wrong here is to endanger the whole "foundation". "Acts that lead to death" are the deeds and actions of a life that is lived apart from the "living God". They may be religious works, gross deeds, or the hypocritical actions and attitudes of the self-righteous moralist. "All acts of a man in himself, separated from God, are ’acts that lead to death'."

These acts are variously referred to in the Bible. "SIN" is the word most often used. However, there are other words to describe the different aspects of man's sinful condition. The essential principle of sin is SELFISHNESS. It is the love of self or my own way as opposed to the love of God and His way. This love of self may express itself in many ways, but each of these ways is "our own way", not His way.

Isa. 53:6 - "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

2 Cor. 5:15 - "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."

What are the meanings of the words used in the Bible to describe the condition from which we must repent?

a. SIN (hamartia) - "To miss a mark; to be in error."

Matt. 1:21 - "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

This is the most common word for sin in the New Testament. It was not originally an ethical word at all. It was, in fact, a word derived from shooting arrows; and it meant a missing of the target or falling short - not reaching the target. Sin is the failure to hit the target." It is failing to be what we should be; it is falling short of God’s glorious desire for us. It is "missing the mark, doing or going wrong." "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23).

b. EVIL (Kakos) - "Bad, of a bad quality or disposition, worthless, corrupt, depraved, wicked, criminal, morally bad."

Mark 7:21 - "For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, . . . "

In the parable of the servants (Matt. 24:42-51), the "evil servant" (vs. 48), is contrasted with the "faithful and wise servant". (vs. 45)

c. WICKEDNESS (Poneria) - "Evil disposition of mind, mischief, malignity."

Matt. 13:49 - "This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous."

This indicates a "mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, honour, virtue; evil in thought and life; depravity; sinfulness; criminality." On one occasion the Pharisees "took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk," and then proceeded to present to Him a "loaded question". But Jesus perceived their WICKEDNESS, and said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?" (Matt. 22:15-18)

d. TRANSGRESSION (parabasis) - "A stepping by the side, deviation, violation of law."

Gal 3:19 - "What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions . . . "

This word "literally means a STEPPING ACROSS". The picture is of a man stepping across a line across which he has no right to step, of a man invading forbidden territory, and crossing the bounds of that which is right. This is the sin of deliberately crossing the fence between right and wrong."

e. UNRIGHTEOUSNESS (adikia) - "Injustice, wrong, iniquity, falsehood, deceitfulness."

1 John 5:17 - "All wrongdoing is sin, (hamartia). . . "

"Unrighteousness is the failure to give to God and to man what is their due. The unrighteous man fails to give God his love and obedience, and fails to give man his charity and his service."

f. UNGODLINESS (asebeia) — "Impiety; improbity (dishonesty), wickedness."

Rom. 1:18 - "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness."

"Sin is godless; it is the total disregard of God; it is treating God as if He did not exist. lt is not atheism, for atheism does not believe that there is a God. Godlessness knows that there is a God and totally disregards Him."

g. INIQUITY (anomia) - "Without law, not subject to law, violating law, lawless."

Matt. 7:23 - ".... depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"

"Nomos means law; and the sinner is the man who disobeys God’s law. This word stresses the deliberation of sin; it describes the man who well knows the right, and who yet does the wrong."

h. DISOBEDIENCE (parakoe) - "An erroneous or imperfect hearing; disobedience; a deviation from obedience."

Rom. 5:12 - "By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners . . . "

The verb form of this word originally meant "to mishear or to fail to hear. It could be used of the man who did not catch something that someone else said, because it was indistinctly spoken, or because he himself was deaf. Then it came to mean DELIBERATELY NOT TO HEAR, as it were, to close the ears to. Sin means CLOSING THE EARS TO GOD IN ORDER TO LISTEN TO ONE’S SELF."

i. TRESPASS (paraptoma) - "A falling aside, deviation from the right path."

Eph. 2:1 - "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins (hamartia)."

This word "describes the slip which a man may make when he is off guard, when he is not looking where he is going, when he takes his eye off the goal. It is the failure in concentration, the failure in self-control through which a man is swept or slips into sin."

What is the origin of sin?


Rom. 5: 12 - "By one man SIN entered into the world." (Gen. 3)


James 1:14, 15 - "EVERY MAN is tempted, when he is drawn away by HIS OWN LUST, and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth SIN: and sin, when it is finished, results in death."

How many are sinners?

Rom. 3:23 - "ALL have sinned!"

Rom. 3:9 - "Both Jews and Gentiles . . . they are ALL under sin."

Rom. 3:10 - "There is NONE righteous, no, not one."

Rom. 3:12 - "They are ALL gone out of the way . . . there is NONE that doeth good, no, not one."

Rom. 3:19 - "ALL THE WORLD . . . guilty before God."

Rom. 5:12 - "All have sinned!"

Gal. 3:22 - "The scripture hath concluded ALL under sin."

What sins does the Bible specifically list?

These 21 lists enumerate a total of 202 sins. Some are repeated in more than one list, but there are 103 unique sins mentioned.

Study Questions for Lesson No. 5

Additional thought:

From the lessons thus far it is easy to become disillusioned or guilt ridden. Another response is to grit our teeth and try to "pull ourselves up by our boot laces" - trying to practice better discipline. Neither response provides the correct method of dealing with this. The how is shown to us by Paul in Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

So God's method is for our minds to be renewed (made anew). The mind is a part of our soul or heart comprising the mind, will and emotions. This is not trying in our own strength to control our thoughts by quoting scriptures or rugged self discipline (both are things we can use to help) but we need to allow the activity of God's Spirit (living in all those who have asked Him into their lives) to impact us and change our character and nature as we abide in Him - John 15.

Back to Lesson 4 - "Repentance (3)"

Lesson 6 - "Faith"