Word Study: My Transgression


Psalms 25:7: “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’sake, O LORD.”

The Psalmist wants God to forget the sins of his youth and his transgressions. I think like most people I thought the word sin was a blanket word to cover everything we did wrong and transgressions were sins. However, Psalms 25:7 suggest that sin and transgressions are two different animals.

If I ask most people what the difference between a transgression and a sin is, I think most would have to think about it and many might not really know. One thing we are all sure of is that transgressions are bad and God does not like transgressions.
We all know sin is missing the mark, but let’s take a look at this word transgressions. The word transgression in Hebrew is pasa.’ This means to rebel, sin, and offend. But more specifically it is talking about a conscious, willful rebelling against something. Tracing this word to its Semitic root I find it comes from an old Canaanite word for being terrified. Do you ever watch these disasters films, like a plane that experiences trouble? Everyone recognizes the captain is in charged. All are fearful but will trust the captain. Yet you always have that one irritating fellow who is so terrified that he will not trust the captain’s directions or orders. He is so terrified, he thinks the captain just does not understand the situation, he knows better and he rebels against the captain and tries to get the other passengers to join with him and follow his plan and not the captain’s plan. It seems these stories always have to have that obnoxious, pain in the neck who is committing a pasa’ or what we call a transgression.
To transgress against God is to face a terrifying situation and rather than trust God you trust in your own devices or plans built out of fear and then try to get others to follow your plan. For instance you have a pastor who feels called of God to build a new church building. He convinces his congregation to take out a large mortgage and when the tithes just do not come in to cover the payments he panics. Rather than trust God, he begins to lean on the arm of the flesh and starts following advice that maybe is not all that honest and truthful. Often in his state of panic he begins preaching sermons that if you don’t pay your tithe you cannot really be a true Christian. If you don’t support this program you are going against God’s will. He begins creating fear in the hearts of his people that they may be transgressing pasa’ by not supporting this building program when in reality it is that pastor who is transgressing by leading his congregation into thinking that their eternal salvation is wrapped up in their faithfulness to paying their tithes and supporting the pastor’s dream and not on the finished work of Jesus. The pastor begins twisting Scripture passages to show that God will bless them if they support his dream and that if they don’t they were probably never saved in the first place. This pastor starts to cause people to depend upon his message and not the message of the Word of God so he can either scare people in paying their tithe to pay that mortgage or promise them things that Scripture never promises if they do pay their tithe. That is pasa’ transgressions. It is to be ruled by your fears causing you to lean on your own understandings and devices or to lean on the arm of the flesh rather than God.
Transgressions can seem very innocent. I notice the sales of my books dropping off. I pray to God and the sales still fall, I trust in God and the sales still fall and then I panic. The royalties support this ministry, God’s work. So I begin to pasa’ transgress and rather than trust God I start reading all the blogs of successful authors and how they sell their books. I start taking note of all the things they do and incorporate it into my own sales program. Not that these devices are wrong but I am doing it out of fear, I am not trusting in God but trusting in these devices. My motives are no longer to deliver the message of God’s heart but to make sure I am successful.
Gideon’s nickname was Jerubbaal which the Bible says means Ba’al will content or let Ba’al do it. He got that name because he tore down the idols of Baal under God’s command and when the Midianites came to his house to lop his head off his father came to the door. They demanded Gideon be turned over to them. When his father asked: “What has that kid done now?” They said he insulted their god and that they must put him to death. Gideon’s father said: “You’re not the only one, you know what time that kid came in last night? Uh, by the way why do you have to lop his head off, if your god is so powerful why doesn’t he do it.” The Midianites looked at each other, scratched their heads and said; “You know, he’s right.” They then left without doing anything to Gideon.
I had to really examine this story and conclude that I was like the Midianites. I was going to do God’s job. If God wants the message of my books to go out, He will take care of the marketing. If I do any marketing it must be done for His sake, not out of my own desire for success or to even meet the budget of our ministry. I have an outside job and if God does not sell enough books to cover the budget, then I will add my own resources but if I go to promote my books to add to my own gain or success, I have transgressed pasa.’
Of course that is my own personal feeling about this and I am only accountable to God. You are free to feel differently if you like and interpret it different if you feel so led. However, the word transgression remains the same and that is to stop trusting God and let your fears rule you to the point where you depend upon the arm of the flesh.