Psalm 32:5 – I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
In a conversation with someone, I was asked if I could share what the differences was between sins, transgressions and iniquities. I felt that I understood iniquity, but was not really sure about how the others lined up, so I did a little study.
First, I had to find a verse that uses more than one of these terms in it to show that they were somehow different. In this particular psalm, David begins by rejoicing over forgiveness. But as he continues, he acknowledges with this psalm that there are different types of sin. So I just want to share what I have discovered and maybe help clarify it for us.
The first word for sin is “chattath”. It means a “coming short” or “falling short” of a mark. In my Logos commentary it describes “chattath” like the sport of archery, where the individual releases the arrow but it falls short of the target. In this case, the target is God’s law and we as human beings can fail to measure up to it, even as believers. So this sin is in relationship to the word of God.
What could that look like? I think this could involve those sins that are directly spoken of in the word of God: adultery, fornication, lying, stealing, etc. These things are sins, and they definitely affect humanity, but they are sins against the word of God. Thus when committed we have fallen short of the mark of what God’s word says to us.
The next word for sin is “transgression” which in Hebrew is “peshah”, and it’s literal meaning is “a going away or “departure” or “a rebellion”. This would be sin that directly affects our relationship with God.
What is this rebellion all about? If we are turning away, could this be backsliding? How about atheism and other cults where we are in obvious rebellion to the One who sent His Son for us? I’m just trying to make a correlation! And could some of those “chattath” sins be included when we just make up mind that we don’t care what God said about a thing, we are going to do what we want? Just wondering! David seemed to feel that he had done them all, maybe in the same setting at the same time. It’s possible!
The last word for sin in this verse is iniquity, derived from the Hebrew word “hawon”. It means “corrupt,” ”twisted,” or “crooked.” And in the Hebrew interlinear bible it is translated depravity. This is the type of sin that relates to humanity. We know that man can get into depravity. I choose not to mention things that are considered depravity. But we can all recognize the corrupt, twisted, and crooked things that people do. And when people are involved in these types of things it can get pretty devastating to humanity. Committing adultery and having someone’s husband killed qualifies in my book as twisted.
Well, I don’t know if I have helped the discussion or made it more confusing; I’ll have to study it some more. But I couldn’t get away from the question and therefore I knew that I had to explore it!! One final thought, make no mistake about it, all of these sins are forgivable! And whether you can identify them or not, be sure to repent of them and receive the blessedness of forgiveness! Wonderful Jesus!