At this point, some may be asking, Why the emphasis on the repentance doctrine? Let’s get on to the resurrection of the dead and healings and miracles.
This we will do, but to get to the growth where God would entrust us with His power to heal and raise the dead like the early apostles, we must do what they did, study what they studied, learn what they learned, and suffer what they suffered. To get to the 100 fold growth, we must “continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine,” the first of which is “repentance from dead works.” Then we will have fellowship like they had, and the breaking of the bread of life, and prayers, and fear, “and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” The miracles came after they continued in the doctrine of Christ. (Acts 2: 42-47). This is after they repented and were baptized (v. 38-41).
Repentance is the cornerstone of Christ’s doctrine. He came preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” He also said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” No getting around it. His remnant/elect, the sons and daughters of God, His princes and princesses—they will know these doctrines backwards and forwards. They must know them and do them, for they are pre-destined to sit on thrones with Christ, judging the nations. If you and I want this, if we really desire to go all the way with Christ, then we must pay the price of admission and completion. And it costs a lot—like everything. Law school’s a must for lawyers. Medical school’s a must for physicians. And the school of the prophets is a must for God’s future apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. And a part of our basic education is understanding the difference between sins and faults.
Back to the Greek
“Sin” and “fault” are two different words in the Greek. The word “sin” is translated from the word harmatia (G266), 172 times. The word paraptoma (G3900) is translated “fault, trespass, offense, fall.” We see here two distinct words for two different kinds of offenses.
We begin our new spiritual growth cycle after receiving Christ’s Spirit in our hearts. This germination and growth begins by faith. We begin as little children with the new nature from God. And as in the natural, even though little children are sincere and delightful at times, they lack maturity. They mimic the spirit around them, be it good or bad. They are not perfect, and neither are we in our new spiritual walk with God. Our old sin nature is gone, thanks be unto God, but we are left with the task of repenting of our shortcomings. Our minds must be renewed and re-programmed through study of His word.
Repentance from Sins and Faults—There Is a Huge Difference
Not knowing the difference between sins and faults breeds doubts and fears in a Christian’s mind. Some will wonder and ask themselves, “Did I just sin? I feel bad about what I did. Was it a sin?” The problem is that many followers of Christ mistake their faults for sins. This lack of knowledge causes them to forever keep themselves in chains of self-condemnation, and this stunts their growth in Christ. Many become discouraged. But to grow into the “fullness of Christ,” we must understand what faults are and how they differ from sins.
Sins are the fruit of our original sin nature we are born with. A sin is an action that breaks the Ten Commandments. As stated above, when we surrender our old nature to the death on the cross with Christ, our old sin nature dies along with the sin it produced. We become free because “he that is dead is free from sin.” Sin does not control us anymore In God’s eyes we are His sinless little children; He imputes His new righteous nature to us as we reckon it done by faith. Simply amazing faith and power (Rom. 6: 1-12)!
Delineating the Difference between Sins and Faults
Through belief in His resurrection, we receive a new nature, a law-abiding one of love. However, many imperfections in our character and make-up remain. God waves no magic wand for us. There is no “Poof!” that instantly transforms us into being perfect Christians.
We have many habits of thought and actions that are not pleasing to God. Before coming to Christ and His cross, we had our own thoughts that were programmed by the world and its thought-giver, the devil. Our old life was filled with habits of thinking and actions that still exist after our initial repentance from sin. And most of these thoughts and beliefs are in error. These make up the old leaven that must be purged after we come to Christ and are born again.
We are not talking about theft, adultery, false god worship, murder, stealing, hatred, coveting, etc. These are sins of the old nature that are repented of when we die with Christ on His cross. But after the sins are dead and gone, we still have many faults, shortcomings, trespasses and imperfections to be repented of. Note: If you still hate, steal, commit adultery, covet, then you still have the old nature and need to take it to the cross and surrender it to death.
The Divine Nature
The Spirit of Christ in Peter tells us that we are to grow in God in order to produce powerful fruit. We are called unto glory. But first, we are to partake of His “divine nature.” God has promised us “great and precious” things. But before this happens we lack certain aspects of His nature. As we begin walking in His footsteps, we fall short. We now have a new heart, but our lack of maturity in Christ produces trespasses and faults.
Peter says we need to add aspects of God’s “divine nature” to the faith we now walk in: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and agape love (translated “charity”). He says that these things operating in us will insure that we will be fruitful in the knowledge of God. With God’s divine nature within us, we will “make our calling and election sure.” These additions to our faith will also illuminate “an entrance…into the everlasting kingdom” of Christ (II Pet. 1: 4-11). Not having these seven additions to the faith operating in our Christian life is a fault, not a sin. For we cannot begin to add them until the sin nature is gone.
Lack of Patience
Some have said that losing patience with another person is a sin. But “patience” is an attribute of God’s nature. It is His patience that we must add. As new Christians we are still running on our old concept of patience, and we will run out of it eventually. “Losing patience” is a fault, not a sin. God looks on the intent of the heart. In this example we see someone who intended to be Christ-like, but there is a lack of God’s nature. There’s a lack of maturity. God’s patience has not been added to this new Christian’s nature.
As said before, spiritual growth does not happen with a snap of the finger, mystically and magically. Receiving God’s patience into our being comes with an overcoming on our part, for “tribulation worketh patience.” Patience is endurance, and going through trials develops godly patience.
Here’s an example of the difference between a sin and a fault. Christ magnified the law when He taught on this commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” [“Kill” here is better translated “murder.”] The Spirit taught that the spiritual root of murder is hate. “And he who hates his brother is a murderer” (I John 3: 15). We as Christians have passed from darkness to the light of love, and we no longer hate anyone. We may become impatient with someone in our dealings with them. But this is not a sin; it is a fault. For the Spirit has not grown up in us to fully express the 100 fold love and patience of the Father. But we are headed that way in our growth. Big difference.
Finally, sin is a “nature” thing. It is in mankind’s original nature to break the Ten Commandments. That is why it is said that if you are guilty of one of the commandments, you are guilty of them all. To break them all is in that nature. But God has made a way to put to death our first sin nature. He replaces it with the “new man,” the spiritual nature that sins no more. But we lack maturity and still have faults and shortcomings to be repented of.
Why This Lesson Is Important
If a Christian believes that faults are sins, he will not believe this scripture: “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (I John 3: 9). He will say to himself, “I am born again and I sin.” And that Christian will look at his fault and call it a sin, and he will reject this passage because of it. And he will miss this precious truth. And his growth in Christ will be stunted. Kenneth Wayne Hancock