What Makes People Sinners?

What is the biblical basis to look at somebody and call them a sinner? 

Is it just because they commit acts of sin? On what judgement do we judge a person a sinner? 

Generically, a lot of people believe that a sinner is someone that does wrong things. That’s a very funny way to think, because we know that nobody does absolutely ‘right’ things. 

As intelligent people, we should let the Bible define its own terms by itself. 

We do not just assume that a sinner is someone who sins simply because that’s what we’ve always known, or because that’s what people say.  

So we will be answering this question by looking at the scriptures critically.

I may not be able to answer all the facets of this question, but you’ll get a grasp of the answer to this from this article. 

In bible interpretation, we can get a grasp of the biblical meaning of a word from the first place it is used. 

Where was the word ‘sinner’ first used? 

The word sinner is a Hebrew word ‘hata’ which means the mark. 

The first time it is used in the Bible is in Proverbs 11:31. 

“If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, How much more the ungodly and the sinner.”

Proverbs‬ ‭11‬:‭31‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Now, we’ve seen in a previous article that the way people were made righteous in the Old Testament was by faith in the promise of God which is Jesus. 

And here, the word sinner is used in contrast to the word righteous. This should already give you a pointer to what the word means, even without examining other parts of the Bible. 

But of course, we will continue. 

The root word for sinner means to miss the mark, or to go wrong or be guilty. That means, attached to the word is a mark that a man is supposed to attain. That means, a man is a sinner when he sins that is, misses this mark.

What is the mark that man missed? 

Paul explained that about Adam the first man in Romans 5:19. 

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”

Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

First of all, many being made sinners doesn’t mean we inherited sin. If we inherited sin from Adam, then we are all supposed to inherit righteousness from Jesus. 

Romans 5:12, the immediate context of this verse explains that 

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—”

Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This shows us that through the sin or disobedience of Adam, sin entered into the world, or sin entered into men’s experience. Death spread to all men because they sinned. So it was not Adam’s sin that made them sinners, but that they followed after the pattern of Adam’s sin. 

That means that in understanding what made Adam a sinner, we understand what made men sinners. 

What is the disobedience of Adam? 

Let’s go to Genesis, where it all began. 

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis‬ ‭2‬:‭15‬-‭17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God gave a command to Adam, that he could eat of every tree in this garden. But he pointed out a tree from where he was not to eat, which is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

Now from the statement ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ it is clear that this tree is a knowledge. God was telling the first man not to eat of the tree or receive a knowledge outside the knowledge of God who is good and only good. 

But what did Adam do? Not only did he refuse to eat of the tree of life which is the knowledge of Christ, he accepted another knowledge that brought him into condemnation. 

“And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.”

Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The ‘surely die’ that God told him was the consequence of his disobedience is a separation from the life of God that Adam refused to believe in, also known as condemnation. 

Simply put, Adam received condemnation into his mind by the knowledge he chose to accept. 

That is why God addressed him in Genesis 3 that 

“And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

Genesis‬ ‭3‬:‭11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Adam had eaten from a tree of the knowledge of what is contrary to what gives eternal life, and that is what is termed the disobedience of Adam. 

Basically, the sin of Adam was unbelief in the life that God would provide. This is the pattern of sin that entered the world though Adam. And that is why what removes people from being sinners into becoming rightoeus, is by accepting the knowledge of the resurrection of Jesus. 

It is not about sinful actions. A sinner is someone that accepts a knowledge contrary to the knowledge of Christ in their minds, instead of believing in the God that justifies the ungodly. 

“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,”

Romans‬ ‭4‬:‭5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Do you have questions? Please send it in as a comment. Share this with someone too! 

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