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Lesson 45 of 50 - Theology (part five of ten)
Hamartiology (part one) - .mp3 (2011) Hamartiology (part two) - .mp3 (2011) Written Notes

Hamartiology - part one (2019)  

Hamartiology - part two (2019)  

Theology (part five): Hamartiology, the Study of Sin; Sin Nature; Predestination and Free Will; Imputation

Hamartiology - The Study of Sin

Hamartiology comes from the Greek word hamartia which means to miss the mark as in archery.  This word is used most often in the New Testament for sin.  The origin of sin is a challenge to identify but we do know:

  1. God Cannot Produce Sin – Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:30; Matthew 5:48
  2. God Cannot Promote Sin – James 1:13
  3. God Can Permit Sin – Genesis 12:3, 20
  4. God Can Produce a Greater Good by Allowing Sin – Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:11

Free Will
Sin then originated because God allowed his creatures to have free will.  The original sin was not Adam in the garden on earth but in heaven by an archangel or cherubim who had access to the presence of God (Isaiah 14:12-14; 1 Timothy 3:6).  Other angels followed Satan’s sin and rebellion and joined him in the ranks of the fallen angels (Revelation 12:3-9).  There was sin in heaven before sin in the universe and the universe had sin before also gave into Satan’s sin.  Adam’s perfect world that God had created for him was opened for sin when its master, Adam, sinned against God as the New Testament says:

                “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.”                                                                                                  Romans 5:12

Free will must exist for sin to exist in God’s creation since God cannot produce sin or promote sin.  In the chart below only one option is rational and biblical:




Choices are caused
by someone else

Choices have no cause

Choices are caused by self

Choices are like a puppet

Choices are erratic, random decisions

Choices are made

You had no choice

Decision could have been different

Decision could have been different

Future is determined like dominos

Future is like rolling dice

Future is determined by God but man is free to decide were he will be in the future events determined by God.

God knows all because
he caused all

God knows all except
free random acts

God knows all because he sees all but not because he causes all

Adam was created free.  This can not be missed for God says to Adam:

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.”                                                          Genesis 2:16

God also gave him a command and revealed his will but this did not stop Adam from having free choice.  Thus, when Adam chose against God’s will, he sinned.

Types of Sin
Sin can be identified in two basic groups:

  1. Sins of Doing (commission) – this is doing what should not do
  2. Sins of Not Doing (omission) – this is not doing what we should do

Old Testament words for sin are:

  1. Chata – means to miss the mark, but if you shot an arrow poorly you not only missed the target, you hit something you were not suppose to.
  2. Ra – means breaking up or ruin, it indicates something both morally wrong and damaging.  It is translated often as “wicked”.
  3. Pasha – means rebel and is translated as transgression
  4. Awon – means iniquity and guilt
  5. Shagag – means to err or go astray as a lost animal or a child in a store.  The one who went astray was ignorant but still responsible.  Ignorance is no excuse.
  6. Asham – means guilt before God and is associated with the tabernacle.
  7. Rasha – means wicked, the opposite of righteous.
  8. Taah – means to deliberately, not accidentally, wander away.

New Testament words for sin are:

  1. Kakos – means bad as in morally bad.
  2. Poneros – means evil and usually moral evil.  Often used to describe Satan and demons.
  3. Asebes – means godless or ungodly
  4. Enochos – means guilty and when used legally it usually refers to being worthy of capital punishment
  5. Hamartis – means to miss the mark
  6. Adikia – used to refer to any unrighteous conduct
  7. Anomos – means lawless and is translated “iniquity”
  8. Parabates – means transgressor and refers to violations of the law
  9. Agnoein – refers to ignorant worship
  10. Planao – means to go astray and is used of leading or deceiving others or self
  11. Paraptoma – means falling away and usually, intentional falling away
  12. Hypocrisis – translated “Hypocrite” and refers to:
    1. People who interpret falsely
    2. People who pretend like an actor
    3. People who follow false interpretations that are known to be false

Jesus Teaching and Identification of Sin
One of Jesus’ most common topics was sin.  It is to be expected that the author of the Law of Moses would have plenty to say concerning violations against the holy and moral character of God.  Here is a list of the sins that Jesus mentioned in the gospels from Charles Ryrie’s Basic Theology:

  1. Sacrilege (Mark 11:15-18) – violating the temple and holy things that were dedicated to God
  2. Hypocrisy (Matthew 23:1-36) – religious leaders did not obey their own standards, they exalted themselves, avoided fulfilling their oaths on technicalities, they kept the legalistic code but missed the intent of the law.
  3. Covetousness (Luke 12:15) – the sin of greed causes fights and quarrels as James says in his book (James 4:1-4)
  4. Blasphemy (Matthew 12:22-37) – calling God’s work Satanic and vice versa
  5. Transgressing the Law (Matthew 15:3-6) – fixing the Law to benefit your desires is breaking the law
  6. Pride (Matthew 20:20-28; Luke 14:7-11) – seeking positions of power and honor
  7. Being a Stumbling Block (Matthew 18:6) – leading others to sin or causing them to be unrighteous
  8. Disloyalty (Matthew 8:19-22) – seeking comfort and serving self before fulfilling duties to Christ is sin
  9. Immorality (Matthew 5:27-32) – committed in action or in heart
  10. Fruitlessness (John 15:16) – not living productive Christian lives is a sin
  11. Anger (Matthew 5:22) – anger inside is compared to the act of murder
  12. Sins of Speech (Matthew 5:33-37; 12:36) – keep oaths, keep promises; we will be held accountable for useless words
  13. Showing Off (Matthew 6:1-18) – doing good deeds for attention is sin
  14. Lack of Faith (Matthew 6:25) – worrying and not trusting God is sin
  15. Irresponsible Stewardship (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27) – failure to use your abilities and opportunities are the sin of irresponsibility
  16. Prayerlessness – Jesus told us to pray and never give up.  To cease to pray or to stop calling out to God for help is sin.

Sources of Sin

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world (cosmos) and of the ruler (Satan) of the kingdom of the air, the spirit (Satan) who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature (flesh, sarx) and following its desires and thoughts.”              Ephesians 2:1-3

  1. The World (or, cosmos)
    1. The world system feeds man’s sin nature: cravings, lust and pride (1 John 2:16)
    2. Christians should not conform to the pattern of the world system (Romans 12:2)
    3. The cosmos is a
  2. The Flesh (or, Sin Nature)
    1. The sin nature in man called the flesh, or sarx, enslaves the body and mind of man (Rm. 7:23; Ep.2:3)
    2. The sin nature affects every part of a man: body, mind, intellect, will, emotions, desires, etc.
      1. Intellect is blinded (2 Corinthians 4:4)
      2. Mind is disapproved (Romans 1:28)
      3. Emotions are degraded (Romans 1:21, 24, 26; Titus 1:15)
      4. Will is enslaved (Romans 6:20; 7:20)
    3. Sinning involves living for the satisfaction of the flesh, or sin nature (Colossians 2:23)
    4. The works that the flesh or sin nature can produce are all sinful (Galatians 5:19-21)
  3. The Devil
    1. Ruler of this world or cosmos (John 12:31)
    2. Head of the Kingdom of Darkness (Matthew 12:26; Ephesians 2:1,2)
    3. Father of Rebellious People (John 8:44)
    4. Father of Lies (John 8:44)
    5. Works in the sin nature of man (Ephesians 2:2-3)
    6. Opposes the gospel (Matthew 13:19)
    7. Sows weeds among the good seed (Matthew 13:39)

Affects of Sin
No one sins in a bubble or in isolation.  Adam’s sin affected him, his wife, his unborn sons, the next generations and the entire human race.  Likewise, our sins affect these things:

  1. Human Destiny – Sin affects both eternal destiny of believers and unbelievers, the loss of eternal rewards for believers (2 John 8) and opportunities and blessings in time
  2. The Human Will – Jesus came to set the captive free.  The captivity was in the human will, not physical bondage (Luke 4:18)
  3. The Human Body – Not all sickness is from sin but some of it is (John 5:14; 1 Corinthians 6:18)
  4. Other Humans – much of the suffering in the world can be traced back to the sin nature of man.

Total Depravity
Man is totally depraved or incapable of passing God’s test or of pleasing God.  This depravity totally affects every part of man’s nature.  This leaves man in a condition that he can not overcome with his own depraved ability.  Man is considered dead in his sins.  The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  Death means separation (James 2:26).  Man’s total depravity leaves him spiritually dead or separated from God’s life.  Total depravity does not mean that all men are as bad as they can be, but instead means that all men are as bad off as they can be.  Totally depravity:

  1. Does not mean that every person demonstrates the lowest level of human behavior
  2. Does not mean that unbelievers do not have a conscience
  3. Does not mean that all sinners commit every kind of sin available to man
  4. Does not mean that all men are sinfully weak in every area.  Some sinners may demonstrate a moral strength in certain areas of life.
  5. Does not mean that totally depraved people can not be good neighbors and do good things for their families, communities and nations.

But, when compared to God’s absolute righteousness and holiness a totally depraved man can do nothing to gain God’s approval.  They are spiritually dead and separated from the life of God.  They are cut flowers withering in a vase.  Pretty but dead.

Inherited Sin, Imputed Sin and Personal Sin

Inherited sin is the sin nature we inherit from our fathers, who got it from their fathers all the way back to Adam.  Adam placed the human seed into a condition of sin.  The image of this sin nature was reproduced in his children (Genesis 5:3).  This is called inherited sin.

Imputed sin refers to sin that is charge legally to our account.  Imputation means to attribute, to credit, to ascribe to someone else.  There have been three imputations in history:

  1. Adam imputed the penalty for his sin to the human race (Romans 5:12-21)
  2. The sin of man and men’s personal sins were imputed to Jesus on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:19; 1 Peter 2:24)
  3. The righteousness of Christ can be imputed to a believer (2  Corinthians 5:21)

Personal sin refers to sins which we commit ourselves.  Personal sins are committed by unbelievers and believers.  The personal sins committed by a believer do not cause them to loss their salvation but it breaks fellowship with God

Below is a chart from Charles Ryrie’s Basic Theology:







Ephesians 2:3

Generation to Generation

Spiritual Death

Redemption and the gift of the Holy Spirit


Romans 5:12

Directly deposited into your account form Adam

Physical Death

Imputed Righteousness directly deposited into your account by Christ


Romans 3:23;
1 John 1:9


Loss of Fellowship

Confession and Forgiveness

Penalties for Sin

  • Unbeliever – the unbeliever who dies with inherited sin, imputed sin and personal sins will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15)
  • Believer – the believer who sins will:
    • Concerning inherited sin - remain in a position of redemption and will not loss the Holy Spirit since the believer can not regain inherited sin from Adam.
    • Concerning imputed sin – will remain in a position in Christ having received the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.  He can not regain the imputed sin of Adam.
    • Concerning personal sins – if the believer commits personal sins he will loss fellowship with God (1 John 1:3, 6-7), begin to walk in darkness which will lead to further sins and bad judgments (1 John 1:6; 2:10), lose the joy of salvation (John 15:11; Galatians 5:22) and have a very weak prayer life (1 John 3:19-22)
  • if the believer continues to live in sin it will have further devastating affects on his life since “the wages of sin is death” including punishment from God (Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 Corinthians 11:30), removal from church fellowship (Matthew 18:17; First Corinthians 5), and an early physical death (1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 John 5:16. Ultimately sin can result in loss of eternal rewards in heaven (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10)


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