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What is Hamartiology?

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Hamartiology is the study of sin. Hamartiology deals with how sin originated, how it affects humanity, and what it will result in after death. To sin essentially means to "miss the mark." We all miss God’s mark of righteousness (Romans 3:23). Hamartiology, then, explains why we miss the mark, how we miss the mark, and the consequences of missing the mark. These are some important questions in Hamartiology:

What is the definition of sin? Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18).

Did we all inherit sin from Adam and Eve? Romans 5:12 speaks to this, “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.”

Are all sins equal to God? There are degrees to sin—some sins are worse than others. At the same time, in regards to both eternal consequences and salvation, all sins are the same. Each and every sin will lead to eternal condemnation (Romans 6:23).

How can I know if something is a sin? There are things that the Bible specifically mentions and declares to be sin. The more difficult issue is in determining what is sinful in areas that the Bible does not directly address.

It might seem that studying a depressing subject like sin would be counter-productive for the Christian. After all, aren’t we saved from sin by the blood of Christ? Yes! But before we can understand salvation, we must first understand why we need salvation. That is where Hamartiology comes in. It explains that we are all sinners—by inheritance, by imputation, and by our own personal choice. It shows us why God must condemn us for our sins. Hamartiology points to the solution for sin—the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When we truly come to grips with our sinful natures, we begin to fathom the depth and breadth of the nature of our great God who, on the one hand, condemns sinners to hell in righteous judgment, then, on the other hand, satisfies His own requirement for perfection. Only when we understand the depth of sin can we understand the height of God’s love for sinners.

A key Scripture on Hamartiology is Romans 3:23-24, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022