When I was in the world, it was very easy for me to sin while still believing that I was a good person. It was only when I came to Jesus and looked at the cross that I began to see who I really was. After I was baptized and gave my heart fully to Jesus, I realized something even more strange: I realized that I was more wicked than I ever realized before. The closer I came to Jesus, the worse my condition became.
Suddenly I was struggling with evil thoughts. I could not understand why, because I had just given my heart to the Lord. As Jesus went into the wilderness of temptation after His baptism, so I went into my own wilderness of temptation. I began to see that, depending on myself, I was uncontrollable and in continuous sin. The difference was that as a Christian I could now see my condition. So I prayed to God to tell me the reasons why it is so easy to sin.
To fully appreciate what Jesus has done in making salvation possible, we must first understand and accept our true condition. First, let’s define what sin is. John wrote, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).
In James 2:9–11, James explains which law is being referred to: “But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.”
This law is the ten commandments and Scripture tells the consequences of breaking that law. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The Bible says, “… when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15).
The result of sin is death. Sin is not merely a concept. It is an action and power. Sin is contrary to the law. The question must be asked, Can sin be present in a person without the person actually committing sin?
Psalm 51:5 says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” From the womb, this is our true condition. A baby has not committed sin, but can a baby die? Death only occurs because of the presence of sin. Though a baby has not committed any sin and can die means there is sin present, even in the nature of the child. This is the condition in which all human beings were born, hence the struggle and battle with sin. Because we were shaped and conceived in sin, it is impossible to overcome by ourselves. We need help from above.
To discover the way out, we first must come face to face with who we really are.
Isaiah 48:1–8 says, “Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The Lord of hosts is His name. I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of My mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I showed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.
“Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them. They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.
“Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.”
God says, I knew you were a transgressor from the womb, right from the beginning.
In Psalm 58, notice what it says in verse 3 regarding why we sin. The Bible says, “The wicked are estranged.” In defining the wicked, the Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked … .”
That includes you and me. When God says “wicked,” He is talking about us. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”
This was no surprise to Jesus. He knew from the beginning that we would deal very treacherously. Treacherously is the Hebrew bagad which means to deal deceitfully, unfaithfully, to transgress. Jesus said, I knew that you would be very deceitful. I knew that you would be very unfaithful to Me and transgress My law.
He gives the reason for knowing that we would eventually commit these things: “Thou wast called a transgressor from the womb.” I knew you were going to do it because this is who you are. The Hebrew word for transgressor is pasha. This verb means to rebel, to revolt, to break away from just authority, to apostatize, to be in transgression, a transgressor.
So, Jesus says we broke away from His just authority and were in rebellion to the law of God from the womb. We have been transgressors before we were born. We are trapped.
To find out why we are in this condition, we must go back to the beginning. Genesis 2:16, 17 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” A command was given that, if broken, would result in death.
Adam and Eve were created pure and holy. God was their Father and their teacher. While they listened and obeyed all that He said, they would absorb the attributes of their Master. When a master tradesman takes on an apprentice and he copies all that his master teaches him, he will reflect the attributes of his master.
Notice what happened next: “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made, And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1–5).
Our first parents knew what “good” was. They had experienced it in their relationship with God in the garden, but they had no experience of “evil” apart from the knowledge of the consequences if they chose to disobey. They knew the result of evil – death.
The devil said, If you disobey God, you will be as God, knowing good and evil. The word know means to know it intimately like when the Bible says, Adam knew his wife – intimately. The devil said, Do not worry about what God says. You can disobey and still be all right. You can intimately know good and intimately know evil at the same time. There is no punishment for that. This same lie is deceiving many young people today.
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (verse 6).
They chose to obey another master. The Bible says, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness” (Romans 6:16)? By choosing a new master they developed his attributes—sin.
Adam was the father of us all. We share the genes which he has passed on throughout all generations. Before Adam sinned, his nature was holy, after the divine nature of God, his Creator. However, after he sinned his nature became sinful or corrupt. That which corrupts will eventually die.
The nature of corruption is that it constantly weakens to the point where it can no more exist, thus the result of sin is death. The question for us now as Adam’s descendants is, Did Adam have children when his nature was holy or when his nature was sinful? That is going to determine how we are.
The Bible says, “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:9–12). So, they sinned!
“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord” (Genesis 4:1). Because we are all Adam’s descendants and we came on the scene after his nature changed, after he sinned, that means we are now in trouble.
The Bible says, “Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: … For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:12, 19).
By one man’s [Adam’s] offence, death reigned by one and judgment came upon all men to condemnation. Therefore, as the descendants of Adam and Eve, sin, or the transgression of the law, must be in our genes from the womb. The Bible says, “… one sinner destroyeth much good” (Ecclesiastes 9:18). This is called the law of heredity.
From the book, Patriarchs and Prophets, 118, we note: “As a rule, children inherit the dispositions and tendencies of their parents, and imitate their example; so that the sins of the parents are practiced by the children from generation to generation.”
We are in trouble. No one should ever think that they are high and above anyone else. Because of our inherited sin, we are all in the same boat. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9)?
The devil tempted, saying, Listen, you are going to be like God. The devil could not even tell what was going to happen because he did not even know how this would play out. Sin is so strong, so powerful, that the devil himself could not overcome it. Sin is more powerful than Satan himself. Sin is not to be played with—this is the condition of the unrenewed heart.
Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21).
Again, we are in trouble, for this is our true state. In this condition, there can be no victory over sin. Without victory, you cannot do anything but sin. Even if we try to do good of ourselves, we are still evil. Look at what Jesus said: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children …” (Matthew 7:11). Even if we do good, we are still evil.
Notice what it says in Job 15:14–16: “What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, He [God] putteth no trust in His saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in His sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” God says, We drink sin as if it is water. We are in a bad state.
We have found thus far that we are guilty of sin from conception. We are transgressors from the womb because of the law of heredity. Without committing even one sin, we are still sinners.
In James chapter 4, we found out who we really are, but will God charge us before we understand what is right or wrong, and choose wrong? Notice what it says in James 4:17: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” Praise God. He winks at our ignorance and sin is not charged on us until we understand what is right or wrong, and then choose the wrong.
How does sin have so strong a hold on us? In Romans 7:14, 15, notice what Paul wrote: “For we know that the law [God’s law] is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin [by Adam]. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.”
Paul is being tricked. The things that I hate, that I do not want to do anymore, I find myself doing. Have you ever experienced that before? The things that you want to do – Lord, I want to do this, I want to be holy – you find that you just do not do it. Have you said, Lord, I am not going over there to that place. I am just not doing it, and then you find yourself at that place. Notice what he goes on to say in verse 16: “If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.”
He says, Look, if I find myself looking at those ten commandments and say I cannot keep this thing, I cannot. That thing must be good, and I must be evil.
Then, in verse 17, he says, “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” He says, Lord, I want to do the right thing, but I find myself not doing the right thing. Therefore, it must be a power within me that is causing me to do the wrong thing.
There is a monster within. We want to do right, but that thing that is in the flesh pushes us to do that which we would not. It is a monster within—sin. Paul goes on to say. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing” (verse 18). He said, I can see clearly now. For to will is present with me, I want to do the right thing, I will to do the right thing, but how to perform that which is good, I do not know how to do it. This is often our experience. Notice verse 19: “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” What is wrong with me?
“Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin [the evil presence] that dwelleth in me” (verse 20). I am controlled by a power within. I do not want to be, but I cannot help it. If you do not receive any help, outside from you, you will automatically sin and sin, and you will not be able to control yourself.
Paul continues, “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man [I want to do the law of God. I love it. I want to keep it]: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (verses 21–23).
Paul says, I have finally figured it out, sin is a law and a law is a principle. That is why you cannot beat a principle – it is a law.
Notice his conclusion to this dilemma: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (verses 24, 25).
In recapping, He said, The Lord showed me that sin is a law within me and why I just keep sinning, even though I do not want to. It is within my body, within my flesh. I need a power outside of myself to save me from myself.
Therefore, it is impossible to save yourself. All your good works do not mean anything. In fact, the Bible describes them as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). We need a power outside of ourselves, to save us from ourselves. Remember, the wages of sin is death. Because we have sinned we are already under a death sentence. The only way out is if Someone dies in our place and lives again, that we might be able to live and not die. Do not let anybody tell you that you are somebody without Jesus.
Colossians 1:20–22 states, “And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh [not ours] through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.”
”But Thou art He that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon Thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly” (Psalm 22:9, 10).
Yes, friends, there is hope, even from the womb. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
“For he [John the Baptist] shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from His mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15).
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14).
This is our hope! The only way we can take hold of it is by faith and believing in Jesus, our Deliverer. We cannot pay for our past sins. We are already guilty. Our own works mean nothing. Jesus is our only Mediator. Jesus takes our prayers and presents them to our heavenly Father who answers, not because of our worthiness, but because of Jesus’ worthiness.
Jesus is the only way. He pleads with us to follow Him, trust Him, and rest in His victory.
Marlowe Parks was a guest speaker at the 2017 Steps to Life Camp Meeting.