Sin is not something that needed to be created in order to exist. It became a possibility when God created the angels who were capable of choosing godliness or ungodliness, and it was actualized when one of those angels chose the latter over the former. This angel, along with his army of demons who joined him in rebelling against God, are responsible for promoting and proliferating sin in every generation. And, under their influence, sin has become the natural bent of every human being’s heart, mind, will, and affections.
Sin exists. That much should be obvious. We see it manifested in the world all around us; we see evidence of it within ourselves as well. Violence and hatred go virtually unchecked. Selfishness and pride run amok in so much of what we do and in so many of the decisions we make. Anger and frustration so often lurk beneath the surface, just waiting for the right circumstances to call them up. And storms and diseases frequently wreak havoc on our lives and our livelihoods. These things we all know to be part and parcel of the world in which we live. The question is, why? Why are they part of our reality? Where did they come from? Better yet, if these things are all manifestations of sin, the real question we must answer is, where did sin come from?
The problem gets more complicated, however. If God created everything in the universe and declared it to be “very good” (Gen. 1:31), and if sin is, at its root, not good—i.e., it is unrighteousness and ungodliness, as I argued in my last article—then God couldn’t have created it. But if God didn’t create it, then where did sin come from? Has it always existed? Is it some kind of cosmic opposite to God? Or is there some “sinful” being that is responsible for bringing it into the world and sustaining its influence in every generation down through the ages? And, if that is true, then where did this being come from? These are just some of the things that we will be exploring in this article. Let’s start “in the beginning” with what happened at creation.
Sin Didn’t Need to Be Created
If, as I argued in my last article, sin is ungodliness or unrighteousness or, even, lawlessness, then this means that sin is not a substance that needs to be created in order for it to exist. It is an attitude or a posture—an anti-God attitude or posture—that leads in turn to anti-God thoughts, words, and deeds. Sin is the privation or absence of godliness or righteousness or lawfulness, much in the same way that darkness is the privation or absence of light. God didn’t need to create ungodliness; it already existed as an “opposite” to His own character and will.
In addition to the passages I cited in my last article, Titus 2:11-14 clearly supports this line of reasoning. Significantly, according to the apostle Paul, we are told in these verses that Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness” (v. 14). Sin is necessarily, therefore, the opposite of law-keeping; it is the privation or absence of lawfulness. And because God’s character and will are the only bases for the law, this means that sin is nothing more or less than ungodliness. Paul confirms this interpretation by placing “lawlessness” in v. 14 in parallel with “ungodliness” in vv. 11-12. The work of Christ not only redeems us from our lawlessness; it also transforms us more and more to reflect God’s character and will over the course of our lives.
This, in turn, confirms that sin didn’t need to be created. It is the privation or absence of God, His character, and His will. All that is needed for it to come into existence is for creatures to exist who have the ability to choose to embrace God/godliness or to reject it. Therefore, when God created the angels with the ability to choose “for God” or “not for Him,” sin—which is simply ungodliness—became a distinct possibility for the first time in the history of the universe.