And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:23-27)

What Is Impossible For Man Is Possible With God

It seemed good in the Lord for me to put forth a clear, and concise, definition of what the Bible means by the word sin. Unfortunately this is what has been missing from the message of too much of evangelicalism; and those in the various sectors of the Church Growth Movement—be it the Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven camp or the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church—don’t hear much about sin amidst all the talk of “love.” So, what is sin? Unfortunately, in the watered down Christianity-lite so prevalent in the church visible, what has happened is that we have all but lost the majesty and absolute perfection of the LORD God Almighty, Creator of the heavens and the earth.

The truth is that the Bible describes God as a Being of pure righteousness and holiness, but in evangelicalism today this glorious and sovereign Lord has slowly been replaced by a non-existent mush god who just winks at sin because he/she/it has a man-shaped hole in his/her/its heart and knows we’re prone to making “mistakes.” However, if you’re not regenerated in Christ, this isn’t the God Who will judge you; He is spoken of by God the Son here:

“But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:5)

You won’t hear that at a seeker sensitive service, but this is what our Creator actually said. I’ve pointed out previously that the Greek word most often translated “sin” is hamartia. It was originally used as the term for an archer who “missed the mark.” The question that needs to be asked here is what is the mark we miss that God considers sin? We get our first inkling when Jesus tells us what the greatest commandment is; not a polite request, a commandment:

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30).

This is the standard that God has for mankind; this is the mark He has set, and if you honestly think about it, the moment you take your first breath you miss this mark. No fallen human being on his own can ever do what Christ has told us here. Our selfish sinful nature precludes our ever living without a thought for ourselves. But this is why Jesus came into the world for He is the only One Who ever could live up to this mark of sinless perfection.

Christ Jesus of Nazareth, our very Creator Himself, says we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  This would require we never ever do or think of anything other than our living entirely for God’s purposes every second of every day as Jesus did here on earth. Only by His Spirit living within us we could ever even hope to begin to live out such an impossible command. A.A. Hodge tells that Scripture presents sin:

as originating in a disordered action of the natural principles of the soul,…[leading to] affections contrary to the law of conscience, since that defect which consists in the absence of right desires leads immediately to the presence of sinful ones.[1]

Henry Thiessen now points out that sin runs completely within, and throughout, our very nature; in our unregenerate state we are what’s known as totally depraved. Below he first expains what this doesn’t mean, before giving us the proper definition to this misunderstood, and oft-neglected, doctrine:

That man is totally depraved does not mean that every man is as thoroughly corrupt as he can become, nor that he has no conscience or innate ability to distinquish between good and evil, nor that unregenerate man can have no admirable virtues of character such as kindness, nor that man is unable to see and appreciate virtue in others, nor that every man indulges in every form of sinfulness.

It does mean that every person is born depraved, that depravity extends to every part of man, that unregenerate man has no spiritual good which would commend him to God, and that he is completely unable of his own strength to change the situation.[2]

You see, by downplaying the gravity of human sin, and by not accurately holding this standard up to the world, we are not helping them; instead we are actually lying to them. Yes, we are to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ Name; however, when we don’t preach this standard within the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we withhold the very teaching that cuts through men’s hearts and drives them to ask: What then must we do to be saved? That why the following from Greg Gilbert is crucial to understand.

While talking us through the first part of the Book of Romans he reminds us that the Apostle “Paul says God’s solution to humanity’s sin is the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Gilbert’s right when he brings out that:

Having laid out the bad news of the predicament we face as sinners before our righteous God, Paul turns now to the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ…there is a way for human beings to be counted righteous before God instead of unrighteous, to be declared innocent instead of guilty, to be justified instead of condemned. And it has nothing to do with acting better or living a more righteous life. It comes “apart from the law.”

So how does this happen? Paul puts it plainly in Romans 3:24. Despite our rebellion against God, and in the face of a hopeless situation, we can be “justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption of Christ Jesus.” Through Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection—because of his blood and his life—sinners may be saved from the condemnation our sins deserve.[3]

I don’t know about you, but as I think about the awesome and majestic LORD God Almighty of Biblical revelation, it makes the very hair on the back of my neck stand up as I consider His tremendous glory and His holy perfection. Oh, what a wonderful love that He would demonstrate to undeserving sinners that while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). In fact the word weak—which is asthenes in the Greek—carries the meaning “without strength,” “impotent,” “powerless, “feeble.”

And it is Christ’s resurrection from the dead which proves that we can trust that God will do what He says in the Bible. If this is the first time you have ever heard this, and there are questions that arise, then please don’t hesitate to ask because:

We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
(2 Corinthians 6:1-2


[1] Archibald Alexander Hodge, Outlines Of Theology [Forgotten Books, 2010], 238.

[2] Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979], 174.

[3] Greg Gilbert, What Is The Gospel? [Wheaton: Crossway, 2010], 30.

See also: