The Origin and Nature of Sin
Ones and zeros. Like the binary code beneath a computer's operating system, my entire "theological operating system" can be distilled down to a simple binary proposition: something and nothing. All truth flows through this on/off filter. The two states in this theological binary code are "God" and "Not God."
Let me lay out some preliminary thoughts on sin itself. Augustine said that "sin is not efficiency, but deficiency." In other words sin doesn't do anything, it only undoes things - it is not CONstructive but DEstructive. So then sin is not something, but the absence of something. It's the absence of God. This is where the "God/Not God" filter comes into play. As I see things, theology in particular, everything must be first viewed through this filter. God is life, all else is death; God is truth, all else is false; God is light, all else is darkness; God is Holy, all else is profane, etc. There are several real-world illustrations of this principle: death is not something, it's the absence of life; darkness is not something it's the absence of light; cold is not something, it's the absence of heat; silence is not something, it's the absence of sound; etc. One state is active, the other inactive - something and nothing.
Let's get back to the relationship between God and sin. Anything that is not God-centered is "Not God," and therefore sinful. Self-centeredness is "Not God," and therefore sinful. But why are we SO self-centered? And, why do we sin in the particular ways we do?
In Isaiah 14:14, Lucifer is lifted up with pride and says "I will be like God," and he falls. In Gen. 3:5, Satan tells Adam and Eve that if they eat the fruit they will be like God. They eat, they fall. (I guess you could say: they fell, they ate - because the sinful desire came first.) So then the basic nature of sin is this "desire" to be like God; the desire to be supreme. We want to be worshipped. We've all fantasized about being rock stars or movie stars (or how 'bout theology stars). We want to be the big dog. So then, autonomy is the problem. As I've said before, if you talk to people about "free-will," they will usually admit that by it they mean the ability to make choices without external coercion. "Coercion from whom," you may ask. Well, God, of course. Pardon me for pointing this out again, but isn't acting apart from God the definition of sin? So then "free-will" is synonymous with sin.
As much as I hate to quote Finney, (actually Augustus Strong quoting Finney), here goes:
"Infinite goodness, knowledge and power imply only that, if a universe were made, it would be the best that was naturally possible. To say that God could not be the author of a universe in which there is so much evil assumes that a better universe, upon the whole, was a natural possibility. It assumes that a universe of moral beings could, under a moral government administered in the wisest and best manner, be wholly restrained from sin; but this needs proof, and can never be proved. The best possible universe may not be the best conceivable universe." End of quote.
If it could have been avoided - if it could have been done differently - God would would have done it another way. Surely God doesn't do things without purpose. Since the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the earth, and all of this is "According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Eph 3:11), we must then conclude that sin was necessary. But why?
I always say the answer is in the wiring. As I've said before, we all believe that only God is Holy. Let it sink in for a moment. If only God is Holy...what does that leave for you and me? If I am "Not God," what am I? If I am less than (insert Divine attribute here), what am I? So then we are sinners because we must be. Adam and Eve were innocent before the fall, not Holy. They enjoyed a conferred Holiness by reason of proximity or connection to God. They chose autonomy and thus disconnected from Holiness. As I see it, the grotesqueness of sin lies in the fact that it is "Not God." We are sinners because we are "Not God." AND, God cannot be responsible for sin because sin is by definition "NOT GOD."
Keeping with the wiring analogy, there are certain electrical circuits that, when the current is reversed, produce an opposite action. When the current flows in one direction, an actuator extends; reverse the current and the actuator retracts. Same wiring, opposing result.
The same is true of our God-given wiring. I assert that the reason we sin the way we do is because we bear His image. We want to be supreme; we want to be worshipped; we want to be all-powerful; we want to "know" all things; etc. All of these desires stem from being created in His image - but we have turned them upon ourselves, thus making them sinful. When directed toward Him (as they were intended), the same desires are noble. (God/Not God.)
Let me amplify a point I've made before: in Gen. 3:22, after man has fallen, God says, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil." This seems to imply, (gulp) that, in some sense, man was more like God after the fall than he was before. I know that sounds sacrilegous, but ponder it before you react. If all of this is necessary, and I believe it is, then we had to walk this path in order to get to Glory. Falling, then, seems to come under the whole Rom. 8:29 scheme. We had to fall in order to be like Him in the end. Death makes us appreciate life just as darkness makes us appreciate light. We are able to know God more intimately because we have known an existence without Him. We are able to sing His praises from the depths of our hearts because our hearts have also cried out in utter despair from the darkest depths of sin.
These truths have some very practical implications because they amplify the fact that even though we are fallen we still bear His image. Apart from Him we are consumed by darkness. Connected to Him we reflect His glory. When I turn my attention upon myself and start trespassing into His territory by trying to be supreme, His convicting light opens my eyes to my sin. I run back to Him and seek to satisfy my God-given desires in Him, instead of in myself. My guilt is assuaged because I realize it was His love that drew me back to Himself. He loves me so much He seeks to prevent the destruction and anguish that results from my selfishness. I see that my desires are from Him and that I retain His beauty as I seek satisfaction in Him. To God be all glory.