What is Transgression in the Bible?
The Bible contains a wealth of teachings about relationships, salvation, and morality. Amongst these teachings are numerous references to the concept of transgression. Transgression is defined in the Bible as any willful act or thought that falls short of the standard of holiness demanded by God. The transgression may refer to a violation of Mosaic law, a moral or ethical error, or spiritual infidelity.
The book of Deuteronomy provides us with a clear guidance of the definition and punishment for transgression. In the Bible, transgression is considered a violation of God’s will and is punishable by death. Specifically, Deuteronomy 19:21 states: “Show no mercy: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” This passage indicates that the punishment for any transgressions, no matter how minor, is a loss of life.
The Bible also emphasizes that there is no punishment in heaven or earth that can undo an act of transgression. In the words of James 4:17, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” This passage clearly states that those who deliberate commit acts of transgression, regardless of the outcome, have sinned in the eyes of God and no amount of earthly penalty can undo such a transgression. Thus, even if a transgressor repents and pays the penalty, he is still guilty before God.
The Bible also teaches us about the need for reconciliatory steps to be taken after an act of transgression has taken place. By accepting responsibility for our actions and repenting from them, the transgressor can erect a bridge to re-establishing a relationship with God and with those whom he has injured. Through prayer, contrition and restorative justice, an offender can make amends for his wrongs and be forgiven by God.
However, it is important to note that forgiveness is not always guaranteed when a transgression has taken place. Only after the consequences of the wrongs have been taken into account, and responsibility accepted, can one truly receive mercy and forgiveness from God.
The Nature of Transgression
The nature of transgression is complex and understanding its causes requires careful attention. In its most basic form, transgression arises out of pride and disobedience. This can manifest in various ways, ranging from sinful desires to greed, hatred, lust and deceit. Transgression can also arise from a lack of understanding of God’s will or an inability to differentiate between right and wrong. In all of these cases, Godly wisdom must be sought in order to understand the nature of transgression and the consequences it can bring.
Citing from the Bible, it is also important to remember that humans are not created to be perfect. Romans 3:23 explains that all humans have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Humanity is inherently prone to make mistakes and such weaknesses can lead us to transgress God’s laws. Thus, it is important to learn lessons from the mistakes we make and strive to keep our hearts focused on God. This is especially true for those who seek a life of holiness.
The Power of Godly Forgiveness
Despite the consequences of transgression, there is hope in the form of God’s forgiveness. Godly forgiveness is a beautiful thing and contains immense power. It is not a mere pardon from the offense but rather a divine act of grace that renews and transforms the offender. The power of forgiveness is evident in the case of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. Through returning to his father and taking responsibility for his transgressions, the son received a full pardon and restoration to the family.
What the Prodigal Son’s story reminds us is that despite the consequences of our sins, we can retake our paths and become new creations in Christ. Such is the power of God’s forgiving and loving essence and anyone can experience this transformation if they choose to open their hearts to God’s mercy. We do not need to be stuck in our transgressions and by accepting God’s mercy and grace, we can receive a full pardon.
Transgression and Its Correlation to Sin
Transgression can be committed even if we do not intentionally sin. Unintentional error can also bring about transgression. For example, a person can be guilty of transgression by merely picking up sticks on the Sabbath day, which is a prohibited task for the day.
However, transgression does go hand in hand with sin due to the fact that most transgressions stem from a desire to push limits or venture into areas that inevitably lead to sin. Take for instance Exodus 20:17 – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Such a prohibition against coveting our neighbor’s possessions inherently speaks to the deep desire to commit sin, namely theft, which is an act of transgression. Thus, transgression and sin, although at times different, are inextricably linked.
The Need for Repentance
When someone commits an act of transgression, it is important to follow the Biblical example of repentance by admitting the wrong, apologizing, and correcting the action or attitude. The Bible instructs us to always seek forgiveness, even when we don’t think we deserve it. Luke 15:7 says, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
By repenting of our transgressions and failures, we can be assured that God will forgive us and have mercy on us. God, who is always just and merciful, will accept all who sincerely repent of their sins. Thus, when in doubt, remember that God is always faithfully listening and that repentance is the best way to come back to Him.
The Need For Spiritual Renewal
Despite the power of repentance, spiritual renewal is also necessary in order to eradicate the desire to transgress. It is not enough to ask for forgiveness; a transgressor must also take measures to ensure that it does not happen again.
The Bible gives numerous examples of spiritual renewal and its efficacy in transforming a life. In Acts 3:19-20, Peter commanded the crowds to “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Thus, the power of spiritual renewal is clear.
This can be translated into our everyday lives in many ways. We can strive for a greater understanding of God’s will and seek ways of strengthening our personal spiritual relationship with Him. We can also read better books, attend quality conferences, and seek counsel from fellow believers. By educating ourselves, seeking spiritual guidance and deepening our connection with God, we can prevent future transgression and strive to live a life of holiness.
Encouragement to Persevere
In our journey with God, we will inevitably fall short and make mistakes. However, we can take comfort in knowing that God has plans to restore us whenever we stumble. Drawing strength from the Word of God and its promises of eternal salvation found in Romans 8:1; “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” we can be encouraged to keep on striving towards righteousness, knowing that God is always looking out for us.
We must also be mindful of the trials and temptation posed by the enemy – who will use any tricks and schemes to lead us astray. The Bible reminds us that Satan is constantly prowling around looking for “someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8) and as such, we must be vigilant. We can rely on God’s strength, as well as our own sense of conviction, to persevere and move onwards in the direction of holiness.
The Role of Human Will
The power of human will must also be acknowledged in our mission to overcome transgression. Learning self-control is a difficult but necessary process in order to stay on the pathway of discipleship. By remembering how our choices can lead us astray and rejecting any temptation, we can take control of our lives and strive for righteousness.
At the end of the day, our own will is what matters when it comes to choosing between holiness and transgression. Proverbs 21:2 states “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” This passage is an important reminder that although we may justify and rationalize our own transgressions, only God can weigh and judge our hearts.
It is thus essential to remember the importance of building up our spiritual strength in order to effectively battle the temptations that can lead to further transgressions.
Practical Steps to Overcome Transgression
Being aware of the ever-present danger of transgression, we can take steps both in our thought life and daily activities to strive to not stumble. In Proverbs 4:23, we are encouraged to “guard our hearts with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life”. We can take this preceptive and strive to monitor our thoughts and remove any negative or unworthy thoughts and feelings that may arise.
In addition, praying and meditating on God’s Word is crucial in dealing with transgression. When temptation arises, we can turn to the Bible for strength and guidance. Longer periods of meditation on the Bible may be useful in developing a more intimate knowledge and understanding of God’s will.
Ultimately, as we seek to flee from evil and cultivate virtue in our lives, may we be reminded of the exhortation found in 2 Timothy 2:22: “[Flee] youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”