To defeat an enemy it is imperative to understand his modus operandi. Satan, our great enemy, is the father of lies and a liar from the beginning. His most effective and destructive device is to keep us in denial – to keep us from seeing the truth about God, about ourselves, and about God’s plan of salvation. And above all, his design is to keep us from seeing the truth about himself and the nature and devastating effects of sin.
“For we are not ignorant of his [Satan’s] devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11, NIV).
To give us a clearer understanding of sin, the Bible uses three different words to describe its various facets.
First is the word transgression, which means to rebel against God’s laws, to make up our own rules and go our own way. Rebellion can be willful and deliberate or it can be passive and unobtrusive.
Second is the word iniquity, which is the expression of our sinful nature; that is, it is our nature and bias to sin. For instance, a person is not a liar because he lies, but rather he lies because he is a liar. It is his nature to lie. In other words we’re not sinners because we sin, but rather, we sin because we’re sinners.
The third facet of sin is much harder to see. It is to miss the mark – God’s mark or target. As Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory [standard or target]of God” (Romans 3:23). God’s mark is perfection, which includes completeness, wholeness and maturity. Therefore, anything in my life that falls short of God’s standard is also sin. This would include failing to face and resolve all my hurts from the past, my secret sins, my sins of resentment, pride, anger, bitterness (and all of the sins of the spirit), denial, my failing to resolve my pockets of immaturity, and so on.
Once we understand the nature of sin and Satan’s devices, with deep honesty and God’s help, we are free to work on overcoming the sins and problems that so easily beset us. Without access to the truth there is no healing, no resolution of character issues, and no full fellowship (connection) to God and others.