Sin is Missing the Mark

01 July 2008

About a month ago I met with a group of men with whom I regularly study Scripture.  We were studying Romans 7:7-12

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET." But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.  (NASB)

We discussed the word for "sin" in Hebrew (chata) and that it means to "miss the mark".  Initially the discussion centered around an archery target with a bulls eye in the center and how we shoot and hit all around the bulls eye but never quite hit it dead-center.

There was a moment of revelation in our discussion when I realized there is another way to look at "missing the mark" is to "fall short". 

We aren't even hitting the target!  We're shooting arrows and they are falling short of the target altogether.  It's kind of like shooting at the basket in basketball and completely falling short: an air ball.

This shifted our paradigm and here are some thoughts that came out of our discussion:

"Shooting an arrow" is equal to our deeds... whatever we do.

Shooting an arrow in any direction we want is fine until "the Law" comes and defines that a certain direction is good and another way is sin.  We are now missing the mark when we shoot in that "sinful" direction.

The commandment given in the Garden of Eden defined shooting in 1 specific direction was bad (eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) but left everything open as good.

The Mosaic Law came and further refined the direction and boundaries of "the target"... it made the target smaller and provided us with a very specific direction.

Messiah came and showed us just how far away the target really is.  It is the same size and direction as the Mosaic Law... just farther away than was once thought.  We once thought it was adequate to not commit adultery physically.  Messiah comes and tells us that if we lust after a woman in our heart we have committed adultery (Matt 5:28)  He showed us that the target is farther away but in the same direction.

God's grace and strength comes through faith in Him.  That strength allows us to "pull back the bow" and get more energy behind our shots.   Without that strength we cannot ever hope to reach the target at all ("Without faith it is impossible to please God" Heb 11:6).  The direction is still predominantly defined by the Torah (2 Tim 3:16).

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