Essay donated by Gerald Ostroot
Transferring sin: "What do we believe," as
interpreted from an Evangelical viewpoint
"When you know a thing, to hold that you know it, and when you do not
know a thing, to allow that you do not know it; that is knowledge."
What a marvelous revelation it is to understand that true knowledge of any
subject includes both what we know and the realization that we may not know
everything about that subject. It’s a revelation that seems to be lacking in
many prestigious groups in our world today. When the subject involves the
ancient past, our knowledge is dwarfed by the vast storehouse of information
that we do not have. Yet the temptation is always there to make judgments about
that past and the people who lived there, from the little information we do
have. That is especially true when the information we have comes from a very
well known book—the Bible. Let’s spend a few moments reviewing the most basic
knowledge we get from the Bible.
- God is! He is the creator and the
sustainer of this Universe. He is involved with what is happening within
it. In times of stress we may ask if He is still with us, but not
whether or not He is. The Bible gives us this assurance. (Revelation
- The Bible also tells us His attributes. His attributes do not depend
upon translation, interpretation or our point of view when we read the
Bible. They are truths that transcend all of those variables. Those
attributes and a Scripture references are listed below:
These attributes are the standards for all other Scripture. If our
understanding of Bible passages does not agree with these standards, our
translation, interpretation or point of view is faulty. We need to look
carefully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, at all the evidence to see
where we went wrong. If we can find no additional evidence, it’s time to
admit that our understanding of that passage is beyond our knowledge at
this time. Don’t be surprised when that happens. God says that His ways
(course or action) are higher than our understanding. (Isa. 55:8,9)
|Immutability – James 1:17|
|Omnipresence – Psalms 139:7-12|
|Sovereignty – Ephesians 1:8|
|Omnipotence – Matthew 11:21|
|Justice – Acts 17:31|
|Love – Ephesians 2:4,5 |
|Truth – John 14:6|
|Mercy – James 5:11|
In the first four essays we have looked at instances where sin seemed to be
transferred to the innocent. None of these transferred the guilt of sin.
The punishment for sin can be transferred with sufficient justification.
(Essay 2: Jesus on the Cross) The guilt remains with the sinner. Only the sinner
can repent and seek forgiveness for their own sin. That condition must hold for
all cases of individual sin, thus the guilt of individual sin can never be
We also recognized a second category of sin—that of "congregational" sin. (i.e.,
group sin) It was illustrated by the punishment of the nation of Israel that
also included women and children. We see another example in the Old Testament.
Deuteronomy. 23:1-2: "If a man’s testicles are crushed or his penis has been
cut off, he shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.
A bastard (heathen mother) may not enter the
assembly of the Lord, even after the tenth generation." (NIV)
Other Bibles translate this word, "assembly", from the Hebrew as
"congregation." The same Hebrew word is translated both ways. The NLT Bible goes
one step beyond the full meaning by translating "assembly of the Lord" as
"Sanctuary." That is how we think today. However, the Hebrew language has 3
different words that can be translated as "congregation" or "assembly" that
refer to different groups of people. The word used here seems to refer to an
assembly of all the men of Israel for any reason. The women, children and
strangers are excluded. Note what the Bible says about Joshua.
Joshua 8:34-35: Joshua then read to them all the statements of blessings and curses
that Moses had written in the book of God’s laws.
Every commandment Moses had ever given was read before the entire assembly , (same Jewish word) including the women,
children and the foreigners who lived among the Israelites. (NLT)
Note that the statement specifically included women, children and foreigners
along with the assembly. (the men of Israel) Although it was held around the
Ark, it was an informational meeting, not one of praise and worship.
We might ask, along with the Jews, "What sin have the men specified in
Deuteronomy committed that justifies this punishment?" The answer is "none." The
circumstances of their lives have relegated them to the same status as women in
the Jewish society. They were not to be in a position of leadership, possibly
because their outlook on life might be compromised by their condition. But they
did not lose their relationship with God. Isaiah. 56:3-8 declares that every one of
these men who join themselves to the Lord will get a special reward from Him.
Read the story of Jephathah, the Gileadite, in Judges, chapter 11. These men are
not punished for their sin or for the sin of someone else. Rather, they are
restricted from normal leadership positions for the good of Israel and will
receive recompense from the Lord in due time. Once again we see a Lord that is
in keeping with His attributes. He does not transfer another person’s sin to
them. Is this just an isolated incident or is it an illustration of God’s love
and mercy for all the innocents who have suffered for the sake of His Kingdom?
Review the Beatitudes for an answer.
Matthew 5:10: "Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of right;
the kingdom of Heaven is theirs." (NEB)
There are other passages in the Bible that may seem to imply a contradiction
and are currently being questioned. But there is a more important decision that
will answer all these issues.
Which of the following do we believe?
|"Do we believe that the Lord, God, is who He says he is?" If so, we
believe He has the attributes listed earlier and always operates within those
parameters. When a question arises, we confront our translation, our
interpretation or our understanding of His judgments and actions. (Previous
essays 1 – 4) We recognize that we do not have full knowledge and may not have
full understanding at this time. We affirm our faith that God is who says He is!|
"Do we believe that the Lord, God, is who we say He is?"
If so, we believe that our understanding of biblical events is truth and, when
contradictions seem to occur, we question the actions and judgments of God. We
make decisions based upon what we "know" and make assumptions for the things we
don’t know. Our faith in ourselves exceeds the faith that we have in Him!
Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what
we do not see. (NIV)
Originally posted: 2007-NOV-11
Latest update: 2007-NOV-11
Gerald Ostroot, at: [email protected]