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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Sin

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the transgression of the law, or want of conformity to the will of God, 1 John 3:4 . Original sin is that whereby our whole nature is corrupted, and rendered contrary to the nature and law of God; or, according to he ninth article of the church of England, "It is that whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is, of his own nature, inclined to evil." This is sometimes called, "indwelling sin," Romans 7. The imputation of the sin of Adam to his posterity, is also what divines call, with some latitude of expression, original sin. Actual sin is a direct violation of God's law, and generally applied to those who are capable of committing moral evil; as opposed to idiots or children, who have not the right use of their powers. Sins of omission consist in leaving those things undone which ought to be done. Sins of commission are those which are committed against affirmative precepts, or doing what should not be done. Sins of infirmity are those which arise from ignorance, surprise, &c. Secret sins are those committed in secret, or those of which, through blindness or prejudice, we do not see the evil, Psalms 19:7-12 . Presumptuous sins are those which are done boldly against light and conviction. The unpardonable sin is, according to some, the ascribing to the devil the miracles which Christ wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost. This sin, or blasphemy, as it should rather be called, many scribes and Pharisees were guilty of, who, beholding our Lord do his miracles, affirmed that he wrought them by Beelzebub, the prince of devils, which was, in effect, calling the Holy Ghost Satan, a most horrible blasphemy; and, as on this ground they rejected Christ, and salvation by him, their sin could certainly have no forgiveness. Mark 3:29-30 . No one therefore could be guilty of this blasphemy, except those who were spectators of Christ's miracles. There is, however, another view of this unpardonable offence, which deserves consideration: The sin or blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, says Bishop Tomline, is mentioned in the first three Gospels. It appears that all the three evangelists agree in representing the sin or blasphemy against the Holy Ghost as a crime which would not be forgiven; but no one of them affirms that those who had ascribed Christ's power of casting out devils to Beelzebub, had been guilty of that sin, and in St. Luke it is not mentioned that any such charge had been made. Our Saviour, according to the account in St. Matthew and St. Mark, endeavoured to convince the Jews of their error; but so far from accusing them of having committed an unpardonable sin in what they had said concerning him, he declares that "whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him;" that is, whatever reproaches men may utter against the Son of man during his ministry, however they may calumniate the authority upon which he acts, it is still possible that hereafter they may repent and believe, and all their sins may be forgiven them; but the reviling of the Holy Ghost is described as an offence of a far more heinous nature: "The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men." "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness." "Unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven." It is plain that this sin against the Holy Ghost could not be committed while our Saviour was upon earth, since he always speaks of the Holy Ghost as not being to come till after his ascension into heaven. A few days after that great event, the descent of the Holy Ghost enabled the Apostles to work miracles, and communicated to them a variety of other supernatural gifts. If men should ascribe these powers to Beelzebub, or in any respect reject their authority, they would blaspheme the Holy Ghost, from whom they were derived; and that sin would be unpardonable, because this was the completion of the evidence of the divine authority of Christ and his religion; and they who rejected these last means of conviction, could have no other opportunity of being brought to faith in Christ, the only appointed condition of pardon and forgiveness. The greater heinousness of the sin of these men would consist in their rejecting a greater body of testimony; for they are supposed to be acquainted with the resurrection of our Saviour from the dead, with his ascension into heaven, with the miraculous descent of the Holy Ghost, and with the supernatural powers which it communicated; circumstances, all of which were enforced by the Apostles when they preached the Gospel; but none of which could be known to those who refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah during his actual ministry. Though this was a great sin, it was not an unpardonable one, it might be remedied by subsequent belief, by yielding to subsequent testimony. But, on the other hand, they who finally rejected the accumulated and complete evidence of Jesus being the Messiah, as exhibited by the inspired Apostles, precluded themselves from the possibility of conviction, because no farther testimony would be afforded them, and consequently, there being no means of repentance, they would be incapable of forgiveness and redemption. Hence it appears that the sin against the Holy Ghost consisted in finally rejecting the Gospel as preached by the Apostles, who confirmed the truth of the doctrine which they taught "by signs and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost," Hebrews 2:4 . It was unpardonable, because this was the consummation of the proofs afforded to the men of that generation of the divine mission of Christ. This sin was manifestly distinct from all other sins; it indicated an invincible obstinacy of mind, an impious and unalterable determination to refuse the offered mercy of God. It would appear from this, that those only committed or could commit this irremissible offence, who were witnesses of the mighty works wrought by the Holy Spirit in the Apostles after Christ's ascension and the day of pentecost. Our Lord's declaration appears chiefly to respect the Jews.

This view will serve to explain those passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in which the hopeless case of Jewish apostates is described. But See BLASPHEMY .


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Sin'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/s/sin.html. 1831-2.

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