Sin is deliberate and pronounced independence from God. Sin is a fundamental relationship. When we are born, we are born in sin; sin is the natural condition of man; he is born into a natural state of dependence on parents, but grows into the natural state of individual independence. Such is the outcome of Adam hearkening to the voice of his wife. In this condition, man thinks that he is free, but instead, he is in fact bound in the coils of the serpent, Satan. He is bound in sin and to sin.
This was the condition of man, from which Jesus came to rescue him:
“The One not knowing sin, was made sin on behalf of us, in order that we should become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The principal thing that Jesus came to deal with was this heredity of sin, that inbuilt, inevitable disposition with which no man can deal of himself. It is like being caught up in the Niagara River as it approaches the falls; nothing can stop the water going over the falls; it is inevitable; it is a river of death to the one caught up in it. So it is with sin; it is the inevitable fate of man born of the seed of man, and only Jesus Christ, born of the Spirit of God, can change the course of the river and make it a river of life rather than a river of death.
Christians mistakenly believe that Jesus came to forgive our sins; but in fact He came to remove that hereditary disposition to sin with which all men are born. Just as Satan took the first Adam and made him into sin, so God took the second Adam and made Him into righteousness. Throughout the Bible we see that Christ Jesus bore our sins by identification, not out of sympathy; He bore upon His own shoulders the whole massed sin of the human race over its existence in this world. Just as man was suddenly absented from God’s holy presence in the garden, just as suddenly was man redeemed from that condition bequeathed to him from Adam and put back into that condition that God designed him to be in.
From that place, man is once again free, as was Adam, to choose his eternal destiny. He can put his hand in that of Christ the King, or steadfastly turn away to follow after the author of evil, Satan.
God has done His bit, which is redemption; we have to do ours, which is to choose which one we will serve.
The problem with Christianity is that it is filled with those who believe; not necessarily those who have faith. Although “faith” and “belief” are translations of the same Greek word, pistis, they mean different things.
Children of Christian parents, for example, are brought up in belief; that is, belief in God and in Jesus Christ and in the gospels. While that condition is described as “faith” it is nothing of the sort; it is belief, and is the product of training; it is oida knowledge, an objective knowledge, not unlike the knowledge that the sun rises in the east, deriving from the belief of the parents. As such, it serves no eternal purpose and, in fact, it can be negative thing if it is assumed that this “belief” is Biblical “faith”.
Belief must grow into faith and that can only be the work of the Holy Spirit only. Nicodemus, a leader and teacher of the Jews, knew the scriptures well and was a man who believed, serving in the temple as a priest; yet his belief was not faith and he did not know the truth. He knew there was something missing in his life and that Jesus had something that was not available in the temple life which all of the Jews shared in. He knew that Jesus came from God, because He spoke with divine authority, and Nicodemus wanted to know what Jesus knew. He came by night to find Jesus and to ask Him of these things. Jesus said this to him;
“Verily, verily, I say unto you; except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God! That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6).
It is the Spirit’s work to bring men to faith; no man can do it, although many men claim they do.