The Way of Truth
Study 4: MAN’S CONDITION AS A SINNER
We have seen in the previous lesson how Allah had first created the world beautiful and perfect. We went on to see how Adam and Hawa disobeyed Allah’s command and sinned and the terrible results of that sin. In this lesson we will go on to examine the nature of sin in more detail. We shall also look at the results of sin in mankind and in our own lives today.
Sin as Described in the Word of Allah
We saw already that sin is disobedience to the command of Allah. It has its outward manifestations in many ugly and disgusting forms. In the Injil we find descriptions of many of these outward forms of sin.
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of Allah. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness ” (Galatians 5:19-22)
“What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'” (Mark 7:20-23)
Yet, sin is not limited to just such outward actions, but is also the inward disposition of the heart. This is an area where no man can see but where Allah the all-knowing still sees the ugliness of our sinful inner thoughts. Thus, for example, Prophet Isa said the following:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:21,22,27,28)
We are all guilty of such hidden sins.
As Sons of Adam All Men are Sinners
One of the hardest concepts to understand in the Scriptures is that man is sinful and therefore he sins, rather than man sins and therefore he is sinful. This is an important point to clarify. When Adam chose to disobey the command of Allah he fell from his state of purity into one of sin. All mankind has descended from Adam. Just as we have inherited our physical and mental characteristics from our first forefather Adam, so we have all inherited our sinful nature from him. According to the Injil,
Therefore, just as 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)
Perhaps an illustration will be helpful. Let us look at the common disease of influenza (the “flu”). As any doctor will say, the cause of influenza is a tiny living thing called a virus. When a person has this virus in him he has influenza until it is destroyed by proper treatment. The outward signs of this disease are fever, runny nose, bodily aches, etc. Yet, these outward signs are just revealing what has been going on inside him. He has the outward signs because he has influenza germs, rather than having influenza because he has the outward signs. As soon as he has the influenza germ in his body he has influenza, although it may be too early for the symptoms to be seen. Similarly, we all as children of Adam have inherited from him our sinful nature. This has outward signs such as selfishness, greed, murder, stealing, lying, etc. Yet, these are merely the outward sign of what we are already from birth as sons of Adam.
Thus, some people today may seem very religious and holy on the outside. However, if we could look on the inside as Allah does we would see the same ugly sinful nature. It is much like a pond or reservoir bound on all sides by high embankments. There is water in the pond. However, someone standing below the pond might never know it. If the embankment gives way, the water will immediately flow out for everyone to see.
Our lives are much like that pond. We all have a sinful nature but it is not always seen on the outside by others. We may be in a situation where it is impossible or not necessary to do outward sin. That does not mean we are not sinners, but only that our sinful nature is temporarily not revealing itself. Thus, a thief who suddenly inherits one million dollars might not steal anymore. That does not mean he is no longer a thief or will not steal in future, but only that he no longer needs to steal for the present.
Al-Kitab’s Testimony to the Universality of Sin
The fact that all men are sinners is made clear in Al-Kitab, the Scriptures. We find in the Zabur the following words of Prophet Dawud (pbuh),
Have mercy on me, O Allah, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Zabur 51:1-5)
The prophet Sulayman (pbuh) writes, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Such statements in the Taurat and the Zabur agree perfectly with what the holy Injil says. The Injil declares,
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks Allah. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Allah.” (Romans 3:10-12,23)
According to Al-Kitab, all men have sinned. Even prophets such as Dawud and Sulayman admit their sin and ask Allah for forgiveness. From the least to the greatest, all men, as sons of Adam, are sinners. This same truth is also seen in the holy Quran where we find the prophets Adam, Nuh, Musa, Dawud and Sulayman (peace be on them all) repenting before Allah for their sin in the following ayats-
They [Adam and Hawa] said: “our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: if Thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us Thy mercy we shall certainly be lost.” (7:23)
Nuh said: “O my Lord! I do seek refuge with Thee lest I ask Thee for that of which I have no knowledge. And unless Thou forgive me and have Mercy on me I should indeed be lost!” (11:47)
And Who, I [Musa] ardently hope, will forgive me my sin on the Day of Judgement. (26:82)
(Dawud) said: “He has undoubtedly wronged thee in demanding thy (single) ewe to be added to his (flock of) ewes: truly many are the Partners (in business) who wrong each other: not so do those who believe and work deeds of righteousness and how few are they?”… And Dawud gathered that We had tried him: he asked forgiveness of his Lord fell down bowing (in prostration) and turned (to Allah in repentance). (38:24)
He [Sulayman] said “O my Lord! Forgive me and grant me a Kingdom which (it may be) suits not another after me: for Thou art the Grantor of Bounties (without measure).” (38:35)
The Holiness of Allah
What a sharp contrast this sinfulness of man is with the holiness of Almighty Allah. For example, when the prophet Shaya sees a vision of the glory and holiness of Allah, he immediately falls down on his face and says,
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Shaya 6:5)
In contrast to his own sinfulness, the prophet hears angels giving praise to Allah and saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Shaya 6:3). Allah is completely and absolutely holy. However, he is also righteous and just. In the Taurat it says of Allah the following,
He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful Allah who does no wrong, upright and just is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4)
Allah is both holy and just.
Allah Hates and Judges Sin
Because Allah is holy and just, he hates sin. In the book of the prophet Zakariyya (pbuh) it is written, “do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares Allah (Zakariyya 8:17). Similarly, Allah is not pleased by those who do wrong and then try to keep Allah from being angry by being religious and doing good works. In the book of the prophet Amos it is written,
You hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth. You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts. Therefore the prudent man keeps quiet in such times, for the times are evil. Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. (Amos 5:10-14)
Allah is perfectly holy. He is not satisfied when man sins and then tries to cover it by doing good. On the contrary, Allah commands, “be holy, because I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44). Thus we see that Allah who is perfectly just and holy hates sin. As He judged Adam and Hawa, so he will judge us if we sin. When we try to hide our sins by doing good it only makes Allah angry at our attempted deception.
Man’s Sin Spoils His Relationship with Allah
Let us look next at the results of sin in our lives. First of all, as we saw in the lives of Adam and Hawa, sin spoils our relationship with Allah. The holy and righteous Allah is simply not able to continue in close fellowship with sinful men. Thus, in the book of the prophet Shaya it is written,
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. (Shaya 59:1-4)
We see that sin creates a separation between us and Allah.
Man’s Sin Spoils His Relationship with Other Men
Sin also creates a separation between men. As we have seen in the books of prophets Amos and Shaya, sinful men are busy trying to become rich and influential. To do that they are willing to cheat others, lie, oppress the poor, or do anything else required to become rich and satisfy their greed. From such greed comes strife and hatred between men. Each is concerned only about himself and is willing to destroy others to get what he wants. Thus, in the Injil it is written,
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask Allah. (James 4:1,2)
Thus, we see that quarrels, fighting and wars between men are all the direct result of sin.
Man’s Sin Spoils His Relationship with Himself
Sin also destroys a man’s relation to himself. Selfishness and greed give him no peace. He always wants more and is never satisfied. In fact, man becomes so bound to his sin that according to the Injil he becomes a slave to sin. It is written,
To the Jews who had believed him, Isa said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Ibrahim’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Isa replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.” (John 8:31-34)
Man’s Sin Dooms Him to Spend Eternity in Hell
We see then that the results of sin are a separation from Allah, an alienation of man from man and a lack of peace. It produces guilt and shame and gives rise to anger, jealousy, fighting and wars. Sin has driven Allah’s peace from men’s lives. Yet, all this is only one part of the results of sin. The most terrible result of sin is eternal separation from Allah in hell after death. In the Injil it is written,
He will punish those who do not know Allah and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Isa. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9)
We can thus see the results of sin everywhere around us and even in our own lives. In fact, sin will eventually destroy us. Allah told Adam and Hawa that if they disobeyed His Word they would die. They disobeyed and died. Had they obeyed they would have continued to live in Paradise forever without disease, suffering or death. In the same way we also disobey Allah and sin. We too therefore experience pain, suffering and death. In fact, in the Injil it is specifically stated that results of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
Like Adam and Hawa, we also disobey Allah and sin. Because of that sin, we experience pain and sorrow in this life leading eventually to death. As sinners, we deserve eternal separation from Allah in hell after death. Truly, sin is a terrible thing. In the next lesson, we will see how Allah took action to save man from his terrible situation.
1. List the sins given in the Injil (Mark 7:20-23) that are still evident in the world today.
2. What did Prophet Isa say was the equivalent of murder in the eyes of Allah?
3. Is it possible for someone to appear good even though he is a terrible, evil person inside?
4. The prophet Dawud (pbuh) as seen in the Zabur,
a. was sinless
b. tried to cover his sins
c. openly admitted and repented of his sins
5. How many righteous men did Prophet Sulayman (pbuh) say have lived on earth?
6. Allah is holy and righteous. Therefore he,
a. approves of sin
b. dislikes sin but tolerates it
c. hates sin and punishes it
7. If we try to cover our sins by doing good works how does Allah react?
8. What does sin do to our relationship to Allah, others and ourselves?
a. improves it
b. destroys it
c. leaves it unchanged
9. According to the Injil (John 8:31,32), what can set us free from slavery to sin?
10. What would you say to a person who said, “I have never disobeyed Allah’s commands or sinned.”?