This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Sins" and "Sin" — Singular and Plural

QUESTION: Is  it not a fact that all Scriptural texts speaking of sin in the singular number have reference to inbred sin and never refer to actual sins (plural)? Is not this true?

ANSWER: It is not true. In the singular "sin" is found in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt., Mark and Luke) but once, "Every sin and blasphemy," etc. (Matt. 12:81). Stephen prayed, "Lord lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 7:60), "If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death," etc. "There is a sin unto death" (I John 5:16), and "If we say we have no sin" (1:8), in all these texts some act of sin is meant. The phrase "to have sin" is found elsewhere only in John 9:41, "If ye were blind, ye would have no sin;" 15:22, 24, "If I had not * * *  spoken * * * they had not sin." Also, "He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin" (19:11). This phrase "to have sin" the experts say is the strongest possible expression for an act entailing guilt. The poet Euripides uses it of one who has committed murder. John uses the term "sin" in only one signification, "the transgression of the law." Paul rhetorically personifies sin, i.e., sinning, as an imperial personage ruling sinners who become his slaves, and John personifies sin as a slave holder (8:34). "The slave of sin is bondage to sinning." Sow a thought, and you reap an act, sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny. The consequences of Adam's transgression have damaged me, but the guilt he did not bequeath to me, because it is non-transferable. Yet Wesley in the second of the Articles of Religion speaks of Christ as "a sacrifice not only for original guilt, but also for the actual sins of man." Substitute Adam's for "original," and I will accept it.

Steele's Answers pp. 117, 116.