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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
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Ask the Pastor

clear.gif - 808 Bytes Question:

clear.gif - 808 Bytes I had learned at one time that we only sin against God. We can do wrong to our fellow man and therefore sin against God in doing so. Sin is something that is particular between us and God. That is why David says he has sinned only against God. He wronged or offended or hurt the others the but sinned only against God. The word "sin" is peculiar between man and God. The wayward son when he goes home to his father says I have sinned against God in your sight. Is there something in the Greek and Hebrew that changes in translation?

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clear.gif - 808 Bytes The vast majority of the Scriptures talk about sinning against the Lord. The theology books that I looked at spoke of sinning against God and against His law. However, there are a few verses in the Bible which speak about sinning against others. They are:

  • Gen. 42:22
    "And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required."

  • 1Sam. 2:25
    "If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them." (the same Hebrew word is used for sin in both instances)

  • I Sam. 19:4-5
    "And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good: For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?"

  • I Sam. 24:11
    "Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it."

  • II Chron. 6:22
    "If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house;"

  • Matt. 18:21
    "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?"

  • I Cor. 6:18
    "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body" (here is sin not against someone else, but against your own body)

  • I Cor. 8:12
    "But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ."

Apparently you can sin against someone else. Ultimately your sin is before God, and you will need to deal with Him, for He has the power of life and death. Since you can sin against another person, I believe we need to confess to them as well. That seems to be the gist of Matthew 5:23-24, although the expression "sin against" does not occur.

You are correct in your assessment of the Prodigal son. The word before means in the presence of. However, Barnes in his notes says, "Before thee. This means the same as against thee. The offences had been committed mainly against God, but they were to be regarded, also, as sins against his father, in wasting property which he had given him, in neglecting his counsels, and in plunging himself into ruin. He felt that he had disgraced such a father. A sinner will be sensible of his sins against his relatives and friends as well as against God. A true penitent will be as ready to acknowledge his offences against his fellow-men as those against his Maker." Barnes isn't inspired, but he usually has good insights. It would seem that the Prodigal was saying more than "I sinned and you saw me." Lots of people saw him, but he didn't go back to them. He went back to the father that he had sinned against.

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Pastor Dr. Mark Montgomery
Email: Ask the Pastor
Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209

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