THE OLD TESTAMENT PRESPECTIVE ON SIN: The OT has a rich vocabulary for sin. Some fifty terms provide the nuances of sin through the OT. Chata‘ means “to miss the mark,” as does the Greek hamartia. The word could be used to describe a person shooting a bow and arrow and

missing the target with the arrow. When it is used to describe sin, it means that the person has missing the mark that God has established for the person’s life. Aven describes the crooked or perverse spirit associated with sin. Sinful persons have perverted their spirits and become crooked rather than straight. Ra’ describes the violence associated with sin. It also has the connotation of the breaking out of evil.

One concept of sin in the OT is that of transgression of the law. God established the law as a standard of righteousness; any violation of this standard is defined as sin. Deuteronomy 6:24-25 is a statement of this principle from the perspective that a person who keeps the law is righteous. The implication is that the person who does not keep the law is not righteous, that is, is sinful. Another concept of sin in the OT is as breach of the covenant. God made a covenant with the nation of Israel; they were bound by this covenant as a people (Exod 19; 24; josh 24). Each year on the Day of Atonement, the nation went through a covenant renewal. When the high priest consecrated the people by sprinkling them with the blood of the atoning sacrifice, they renewed their vows to the Lord to be a covenant-keeping people. Any breach of this covenant was viewed as sin (Deut 29:19-21).

The OT also pictures sin as a violation of the righteous nature of God. As the righteous and holy God, He sets forth as a criterion for His people a righteousness like His own (Lev 11:45). Any deviation from God’s own righteousness is viewed as sin.



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