The Multifaceted Effects of Sin

I recently heard that when we do something wrong to another person, it is not only a sin against God but also a sin against the other person. Is this correct? Can we also sin against another man or woman?

That, I think, is a profound question. That is the kind of question I like to take on the Bible Answer Man broadcast. This is a profound question. When a man steals from another man in violation of the eighth Commandment (Exod. 20:15), we know from Scripture that he clearly sins against God. But, the answer to the question is he also sins against the individual in taking what does not belong to him. It is a sin against God. It is also a sin against humankind. This is why the Lord taught us to pray, “Forgive us of our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” (Matt. 6:12).

If you read Matthew 18 — the parable of the unforgiving servant — Peter comes to Jesus and asks, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Remember what Jesus said? “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21–22 NKJV). In other words, you always forgive. If you have been forgiven a debt that cannot be quantified, we should never consider withholding from those who sin against us. How many times shall I forgive? It implies that we do forgive our bother and our sister. Ephesians 4:32 is also, I think, a passage that underscores this point. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” There are many other passages.

We are told by the apostle Paul we ought to forgive because our sin is not only against humanity but also a sin against Christ. A sin against Christ is a sin against the body; a sin against the body is a sin against Christ. I think even more interesting in answer to a very interesting question is 1 Corinthians 6. You can sin against your own body. You think about humanity, it includes you. For example, “He who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit;” therefore, we are to “flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor. 6:17–20 NIV). This adds a whole new dimension to it. He who sins sexually sins against his own body.

The answer to your question is multifaceted. It is a great question. You also sin against a person when you sin against God. In short, you can sin against another man or another woman. You can sin against your body. You have the body of Christ, your own body, and you have Christ, who is the head of the body.

We daily ask God to forgive us of your sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). One of the reasons I think this is a particularly important question is that today we have all kinds of popular preachers who are telling you that when you sin, do not ever ask for forgiveness, because asking for forgiveness is tantamount to spitting in the face of God, so, please, please never ask for forgiveness. But, I have been absolutely astounded at how rapidly that perversion has become part of the ethic of the body of Christ, how quickly people have embraced that kind of spiritual cyanide. Well, what is the antidote? The antidote is to learn discernment skills. When someone says something like that, you do not look at the power of their radio or television platform; you test what they say in light of Scripture, and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Tim. 3:16–17; Acts 17:10–12).

— Hank Hanegraaff

This blog is adapted from the July 20, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

2 Responses to The Multifaceted Effects of Sin

  1. Robin Bunting says:

    Thank you! Well stated.

  2. David says:

    Psalm 51:4 also comes to mind: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” (ESV)

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