Triplets of Sin & Triplets from God

More than once I have been involved in discussions with those who mistakenly assert that “sin is sin and all sin is the same; all sin is equal in the eyes of God.”

While I agree that all sin is egregious and separates us from God,1 it is demonstrably untrue that all sin is the same. Jesus himself told Pilate that the Jews who turned Jesus over to him were guilty of the “greater sin.”2 So, clearly, there are greater and lesser sins.

But it is even more nuanced than that.

Beyond greater and lesser sins, we occasionally hear people speak of sins of commission versus sins of omission. We hear of deliberate sin, sin of the heart, youthful sin, covert sin.

This week, I want to look at sin as it is portrayed in Psalm 32. What we find there is a series of triplets that is (to me) fascinating!

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
     whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORDcounts no iniquity,
     and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

– Psalm 32:1-2, ESV

Who among us cannot gush with thankfulness at what we have just read? The penalty for sin is paid in full and, in that truth, we exalt, we rejoice!

Three Expressions of Sin

Look again at the verse above and note that there are three distinct expressions for our offenses. We see transgression, sin, and iniquity, and the meanings are distinct.

Transgression – פֶשַׁע (pesha) This is out and out rebellion, a breach of trust.
Sin – חֲטָאָה (khatawaw) This is sin as we generally think of it, and also describes the sin offering.
Iniquity – עָוֹן (awvone) This is guilt, and often includes the punishment for that guilt.

It is more involved than that, and the differences in these words are significant. The key for our study this week is for us to see that it is not the case that sin is sin is sin. Regardless, God’s great grace has made provision for all of our weakness and our rebelliousness.

Three Provisions for Sin

Similar to the three distinct terms that describe human wrongdoing, Psalm 32 presents three aspects of God’s active grace toward us to address that wrongdoing. Look at it again.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
     whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
     and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

– Psalm 32:1-2, ESV

Forgiven – נָשָׂא (nasah) It is lifted, taken, borne, carried away.
Covered – כָּסָה (kasah) It is clothed, concealed, engulfed, even overwhelmed. This is a word of refuge.
Not imputed/counted – חָשַׁב (khaw-shab) This is a word of mindfulness, esteem, how one thinks of or regards a thing.

In Yahweh, our rebellion is forgiven, our sin is covered, and our guilt is not imputed to us. In every way possible, we are released from our own wrongdoings. No further restitution is required. That is astonishing!

Three Outcomes of Sin

But God’s dealing with our sin requires something of us. If we refuse to let that sin go, to release it to God so he can deal with it on our behalf, the outcomes are rather ugly.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
     through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
     my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

– Psalm 32:3-4, ESV

1) Bones waxing old, 2) groaning and roaring, 3) the hand of God heavy upon us. That is not a pretty picture. So, what is our response to be?

Three Decisions About Sin

I acknowledged my sin to you,
     and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
     and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Therefore let everyone who is godly
     offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;

– Psalm 32:5-6a, ESV

1) We acknowledge our sin to God, 2) we intentionally expose our iniquity, refusing to cover it or hide it, and 3) we confess our transgressions to Yahweh. In response, he forgives the iniquity of our sin.

Three Responses to Deliverance

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
     and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

– Psalm 32:11, ESV

Because of what God does for us in removing our sin from us, covering our sin, and not imputing guilt to us, 1) we are glad in him, 2) we rejoice as righteous ones, and 3) we shout for that joy as those who are upright in heart.

You are a hiding place for me;
     you preserve me from trouble;
     you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

– Psalm 32:7, ESV

Blessings upon you, my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon
Twitter – @DamonJGray
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1. Isaiah 59:1-2
2. John 19:11

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Damon J. Gray

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