As we consider the nature of sin, there are two clarifications with which I will begin. First, this study is not intended to be an exhaustive, academic endeavor. Though accuracy in representing the concepts herein is important, I will attempt to treat certain perspectives according to their essential meaning, not probing the large variety of minor distinctions held within a particular school of thought. Such detailed studies are significant and have their place, but it is not the goal of this book. Second, our focus is on the practical effect the various views considered have upon evangelistic efforts.
There are two powerful passages that we must take seriously as we formulate a foundation about the essence of sin. The first is Romans 1:18-20. It might be bothersome to some, but I am going to make a huge “assumption” as we point to an important conclusion found within this passage – the Apostle Paul was thoroughly studied in reference to the Old Testament information regarding sin. As Paul referenced sin in an effort to convince, both, Jew and Gentile of their need of salvation to be found in Christ, he did not rehash all the information revealed in Old Testament text but simply stated that they were guilty of suppressing available truth in order to do what they preferred. His grand, and extremely important conclusion regarding this response to God and truth are “they are without excuse.”
It must be understood that people are without excuse for the sin of which they are guilty. No one is guilty before God for things that are strictly and technically out of their control. People are guilty for how they use the abilities they have, not for failing to have ability. They are guilty for what they do with truth (essentially truth about God), not for lack of truth. Paul emphasizes the people (initially Gentiles, later applied to the Jews also) actively suppressed truth, engaging in a lifestyle of ungodliness and unrighteousness while ignoring the existence and supremacy of God. He concludes that there is no legitimate excuse, reason, justification or explanation that will exonerate them. Therefore, whatever doctrine or conclusion we draw about sin, it must not allow people to view themselves as mere victims of something beyond their control. Each person is responsible for the fact that he / she has denied available truth and embarked on a life of self-supremacy and sin.
In our next post we will draw basic conclusions about Ezekiel 18.
 Many English translations of the Bible use the word “ignorance” in, for example, Ephesians 4:18. It is often the case that the word is thought of as referring to one void of information. The suffix “ance,” as in hindrance or resemblance, means the act of (the act of hindering, the act of resembling). The word ignorance properly means the act of ignoring.