The Natural Hamartiologist

The hunter reaches back with quiet well-practiced motion to locate an arrow in his quiver. He selects one and brings it forward as his other hand raises his bow. He nocks his arrow on the bow and pulls back the full reach of his arm. His eyes look down the arrow and focus in on the deer in the open field ahead of him. As soon as he feels his aim is true, he pauses his breath, and lets the arrow fly. If the hunter is well practiced, and maybe a bit lucky, the arrow will pierce his prey and provide him with his supper.

There is a word used in the New Testament that describes an arrow missing its mark. The word “hamartano,” is translated as “sin.” So the word for “sin” comes from a word “regularly used in ancient times of an archer missing the target.” (Strong’s Concordance) We all regularly “miss the mark”. We sin. I heard one person recently say, “we regularly hurt the ones we love.” Often we miss the mark with the people we care about the most.

Hamartiology is the study of how we miss the mark. Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

I am adapting the word to suit my own purposes here: the Natural Hamartiologist is the one who naturally misses the mark. The one who regularly and often misses the mark is a Natural Hamartiologist. I would suggest that this is really a description of all humans.

Our Creator God created us to have someone to have a relationship with. He created us with free will, hoping we would choose to love and serve and honor Him. The book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible. Only 3 chapters in you will find the first people – Adam and Eve – choosing to disobey and miss God’s mark for them. From then on all humans have this tendency to miss the mark – not all the time – but regularly. Some of us have no interest in pleasing God, so missing the mark in measuring up to His standards is not relevant. For the rest of us, those who have surrendered our lives to God, we desire to hit the mark more often than not.

God chose to send His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross in our place, taking our death penalty that missing the mark requires of us. When Jesus rose from the dead, He was victorious over death, over the devil, and over sin. He never missed the mark when it came to obeying God. He gives us his Spirit to remind us when we do miss the mark. And every time the Spirit reminds us, we can go back to Jesus, ask him to forgive us, and he does. God sees us as the forgiven ones, because he sees us through Jesus who never missed the mark.

As Christians with our faith in Jesus and his death and resurrection for us, we can be forgiven. We can have a relationship with God, as He desired in the first place, as people who are not seen as Hamartiologists but as “dikaios” – Righteous Ones.

We fall short of God’s ideal very often, but we also have One who by his death and resurrection has paid for our sin and made us righteous before God.

Are you a practicing Hamartiologist or are you an aspiring Dikaios? What we think of ourselves as influences how we live our life. If we think we are ones who regularly miss the mark, then we are not surprised when we do. If we view ourselves as ones who are righteous, then we focus more on living out that righteousness. It may seem like a small thing, but I believe how you view yourself affects how you live. Paul regularly addressed his New Testament letters “to God’s holy people” in Ephesus, or Philippi. We are righteous ones pursuing The Righteous One. We want to pursue the God-given ideal and can rejoice that God has provided a way for us to become righteous when we miss the mark again.

Keep coming back to Jesus,

Andy Wiebe

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