God and Sin
The one aspect of being a Christian is dealing with a sin according to the church tradition. As for a religion, there is no god if there is no sinner to judge and condemn. For religious authority, sin and human must coexist. Jesus came to say not. In the church tradition, believers who are supposedly cleansed by the work of Jesus are still subject to the original sin. No one is free from the sin no matter how righteous the person is because the sin is inherited. Jesus came to say not.
The concept of the sin starts in the garden. God planted the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, besides many other edible trees:
And the Lord God commanded the man saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:9
There are two parts of the original sin based on the passage: disobedience and disbelief. God told a man not to eat, but the man ate anyway. The man disobeyed God. Second, God told the man that he would die if he ate the fruit, but the man did not believe what God said and ate it. The man might have believed God, but didn’t know what God had said about death. It is possible because the idea of death had been unknown to the man prior to the event of eating. We wouldn’t know which action was a sin to God. However, Lutheran tradition imposes on believers’ absolute obedience to Jesus, while Calvinism emphasizes on absolute belief in Jesus Christ, as a remedy to the sin. For Calvinism, not believing in Jesus guarantees the hell after life. For Lutherans, not following the work of Jesus commits a sin.
Revisiting faith in Jesus, there is no sin that can prevail the power of the Triune God. Believers are free from the shackles of the original sin, if there is. We must ask ourselves why God prevented us from obtaining the knowledge of good and evil when the tree of life was allowed. God foresaw the irreversible aftermath of the knowledge of good and evil on the relationship in the garden. The relationship between God and humans, and among the humans themselves, was eternally destroyed. Knowing good and evil, they first learned what the death was. They soon learned of shame and fear of death. They hid themselves from God. They tried to cover their shame by blaming each other. The relationship with God was broken. The relationship between themselves was destroyed. Not their disbelief nor disobedience, but the knowledge of good and evil caused the broken relationship. Even if God wanted them stay with God in the garden, they would feel shame before God and leave the garden. God covered their shame. God sent Jesus with the message, “Emmanuel.” Surely, the act of God was the saving work from Adam to Jesus.
Knowing good and evil is the worst shackle to humans. Good and evil are inseparable because of their relativity. Good is known because evil is defined. Evil is known because good is defined. If good is unknown, there is no way to know evil. If evil is unknown, there is no way to know good. This is the stage of pure heart (like a child) before the fall. When a person knows good, the person has two responsibilities: do good, and not to do evil. Not doing evil is easier than doing good, for ordinary people. It is the shackle we pay for our free will.
According to a process theologian, the professor Marjorie Suchocki at the Claremont School of Theology, sin is not only doing evil but also not doing the good. Sin has two folds, which we all are easily subject to. I may not do anything evil to myself or the world. Yet, I may hardly do any good to the needy next to me, either. In this case, we all are sinners. There is no sin between God and us. We are paying the price for our free will, and God is faithfully helping us.