A primary objection to Evolution is that Evolution requires things to die, and death only exists because of sin. There are in fact different kinds of sin...
- Sins of commission
- Sins of omission
- Sins of submssion
A sin of comission is a direct act of disobedience to God. This can be judged as disobedience to Biblical law, rule, or covenant, but it is generally disobedience as judged by the law God has written on your heart.
A sin of omission is the lack of a direct action that God otherwise required you to do. Such sin is not a direct action, but disobedience through inaction.
A sin of submission is not disobedience, but results from exposure (intentional and otherwise) to circumstances that separate you from God in some respect.
A comparison of these three types of sin is instructive in deriving a Biblical view of Original Sin, the "death" it introduced, and Evolution.
Sins of Commission
The 10 Commandments are the first set of rules God provided for judging sins of commission. In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29), Jesus taught that a sin of commission is more than the actions we take with our body; they are the actions we take with our heart.
In Jeremiah 31:31-34, God prophecied that the Jews would eventually be bound by a law God would write on their hearts. In Romans 2:12-16, Paul wrote that God's heart-written law applies to both the Jew and the Gentile. If God writes it on your heart or in His Law, and you actively disobey, it is a sin of commission.
Sins of Omission
A sin of omission occurs when God commands you to perform an action and you do not. For example, Moses wrote that should a man die without an heir, his brother must sire a child with the widow. To refuse is a sin of omission. There is another command not to spill one's seed, a reference to wasting ones seed on the ground, rather than siring your brother's heir. Simple failure to produce the heir would be a sin of omission (inaction); rebelliously spilling ones seed is a sin of commission (action). Yet, when measured against one's heart, even the sin of omission is in fact a sin of commission.
Determining whether something is a sin of omission is often measured against the evil that results. One hardly discusses the heart. Using the heart as a measuring stick may help to clarify things. Here are some modern examples, and questions to ask when judging their sinfulness:
- Not tithing --> Is your heart actively mistrusting God with your finances?
- Not giving money to a beggar --> Perhaps you support the homeless already. Or does your heart have contempt for beggars?
- Not resolving your anger --> Are you mistrusting God? Punishing your spouse?
Consider Luke 5:17-26. When the paralyzed man was lowered through the roof by His friends, Jesus did not heal him; He forgave His sins. This seemed wrong to the Pharisees, striking them as a sin of commission (blasphemy), because only God can forgive sins. At the same time, Jesus had failed to heal... a sin of omission? Well, look at His heart. He wanted that man in Heaven with Him, and did what was necessary: He forgave the man's sins. He then stated His desire for the Pharisees to see His authority to do this, so He performed the lesser miracle that was expected... He healed the man's paralysis. When viewed through the prism of one's heart, a sin of omission is in fact a sin of comission. In Jesus' case, his "omission" was not a sin, and there are other examples, even including His failure to rescue the Jews from Ceasar's rule. In all these things, Jesus' first desire is that His Father in Heaven get the glory for all He does. In other words, what appears to us to be a sin of omission is often (when measured against the heart) not a sin at all. What is the heart behind what you do not do?
Sins of Submission
Sins of submission put someone into a state of sin through exposure or contact; they do not reflect a disobedient heart, and in fact may result from direct obedience. Still, they separate you from God, if just for a time. Even Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was a sin of submission, such that God the Father withdrew from the Son (Matthew 27:46, 2 Corinthians 5:21) until it was over. He became sin, who knew no sin.
In the Law of Moses, the handling of a dead human body is a sin of submission, as is the handling of menstrual blood and clothing stained with it. Modern sins of submission might include embalming the deceased or kissing their cheek at a viewing. It could include street witnessing to the homeless and cleaning them up. Yet, these are not sins of commission and do not require forgiveness of your heart. In fact such acts often bring honor to God, even while the Law of Moses would require your ritual purification before coming into God's house to worship.
Paul wrote of the sins of submission in Romans 5, though he did not use that precise term...
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given,
but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.
14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses,
even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
In other words, there were people who lived between the time of Adam and Moses who had no sins charged against them, because there was no law. Yet, they were subject to death, a sin of submission. It should be noted that "death" in Romans 5 is as opposed to reconciliation. While every person who ever physically dies is resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:22), only the faithful are reconciled from the death that reigns over our life (Romans 5:16). Such death is a condemnation that separates us from God; it makes us all unclean, and requires reconciliation. It can be viewed as a spiritual death that will follow us into physical death... unless we repent and turn our heart over to Jesus.
Consider again Jesus' separation from God. He experienced on the Cross the ultimate in separation, and hence the ultimate in death. In this respect, it was before Jesus expired that His "death" for our sins occurred. The actual expiring of his physical life was easy. His death on the cross, His separation from God, was the real punishment, so that we would never have to suffer the separation we were born into, the sin of submission through Adam.
Knowing now that the death Adam brought into the world was separation from God, what does it tell us about those who lived before him? Does it say that he must of been the first person? No. It says that no one before Adam suffered the death of separation from God. How is this? Did they know God? Hardly.
Adam was the first person to know God. One cannot separate where there is no connection (it is the difference between being merely separate, and actively separated). Connection with God started with Adam, and so death (i.e., separation from God) began with him as well. At a higher level, Adam was God's chosen connection to the human race and mankind's connection to God. When Adam sinned, he ceased to be our connection and became our separation. We are therefore born separate (sin of submission) and proceed to separate ourselves even more (sins of commission). However, Jesus came to bridge the gap-of-sin created between us and God, and replaced our sin as our separation from the Father. To the degree that sin equals separation from God, Jesus is our sin.