Are you aware of the fact that we never find the word mistake in the Bible?
Some of the more modern translations in their bold freedom may distort the truth of a text by using that word; but nowhere in a faithful translation of the words which Scripture uses will you find that word mistake.
We do not mean, and are not saying, that there are not actions of men recorded in Scripture that cannot be called mistakes. There are such actions recorded. Joseph was about to make the mistake of divorcing Mary upon the Biblical ground of adultery. He entertained serious thoughts of “putting her away” because he was a just (righteous) man. The angel of God in His mercy made plain to Joseph that he was mistaken. Two men traveling the road to Emmaus mistook their Companion, Who had joined them along the way, as a stranger just come into these parts that very day, for “their eyes were holden that they should not know Him.” For a time they were mistaken in their judgment of this Companion.
What we are saying, however, is this, that many of the actions of men which today are called mistakes are never called that .in Scripture, but instead are called by their right name: SIN!
Take a look once at what Webster has to say about that word mistake. When used as a verb, he tells us, it means, “1. To misapprehend, misunderstand, or misconceive; 2. to substitute erroneously in thought or perception; as to mistake James for John; to err in recognizing, estimating, etc.” When used as a noun, according to Webster, it means, “1. An apprehending wrongly; a misunderstanding; 2. an unintentional error. ” It ought to be plain then that we should be careful when we use the word, and not quickly label the deeds of men as mistakes. We ought to be willing—and in His fear we will be willing—to call a spade a spade, and the actions which Scripture calls sin is nothing short of sin.
Sin is never a mistake, is never the result of misunderstanding God’s will, is never an unintentional error. Sin always is a matter of the will of man. Jesus taught us that every sinful deed is an act of hatred against the living God. And hatred is an act of the will, even as love is an act of the will. Jesus taught us this clearly when He told us that the whole law of God is that we love God with all our soul, mind, will and strength. Any deed void of that love of God is sin. We must not then, try to minimize sin by calling it an act of poor judgment, an unintentional error. Man always sins intentionally. He sins because he wills something which he may not have.
Let us go back to the beginning of the matter and observe what took place when sin entered the world. Adam and Eve did not misapprehend God’s command. They did not misunderstand their calling. Even Eve, when she corrupts God’s command by stating that man might not even touch the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and of evil, does not reveal any misunderstanding of God’s command that they might not eat of it, and that to eat of it would be SIN. And even if we concede that they were tempted to see that command in a different light, and were deceived into thinking that God’s command was not good, and that’ His threat was an empty one, they sinned because they willed what God had plainly told them they might not have. And they ate in hate! ‘They did not disobey in some unintentional error. They did not mistake God’s command for Satan’s suggestion. They clearly saw the difference between the two. But they wanted something that they did not have. And, knowing full well that they were going contrary to God and were becoming His enemies, and rivals, and rebels, they ate. No mistake was made by them. Theywere mistaken about what their sin would bring them, and they soon found out that they had been deceived by Satan. But their deed was not an unintentional error; and it was not due to a misconception of what their calling was. And we write about this matter of Masters of Mistake, because of the current use of the word that takes away the sting of sin and excuses sin as nothing more than a matter of poor judgment. Yea, murder even is currently presented as nothing more than an act of “temporary insanity.” That it is due to hatred in the heart toward God and the neighbor is denied. It is due only to a mental quirk, and then one that is temporary. Without any regenerating grace of God, without any spiritual renewal, but only by a natural process, that temporary condition of insanity will leave. It all was a big mistake. But do not call it anything more! Pity that man rather than the bereaved family. Justify him rather than defend those wronged. Such is the world’s philosophy today.
And although we have for our theme “Masters of Mistake,” for a reason soon to be explained, we may point out here that we are first masters of ethical error. masters of sin. And the master stroke of it all, the master stroke then of sin, was exactly that one wherein we, created in the image of God, as His friend-servants, set out to be masters, to be our own masters and to be like God. Due to this deed of seeking the Master’s place we become masters both of sin and of mistake.
But note that we did not seek that mastery and discard our role as friend-servants by a deed of “temporary insanity.” We did so in an act of hatred against God. We did it in a deliberate act of rebellion, fully conscious of what we were doing. And Adam did not plead “Not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.” Nor does God excuse him—or for that matter, us—on that basis. Paul writes to the church at Rome and declares that “by the offence of one many be dead.” He declares that, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” All did not make a mistake in Adam. Not one in the human race is excused because of a mental quirk on Adam’s part. But through a sin, through an act of hatred from the heart, this friend-servant of God caused the whole human race to receive by the natural birth a God-hating nature that produces all manner of sin, and is utterly void of the fear of God. Let us call sin what it is. And let us understand well that when we call it a mistake, we are not making a mistake, but instead we are denying the truth of God’s Word.
All this does not mean that we can never speak of a mistake or of man being mistaken. It does not mean that our title cannot stand and ought to be changed to Masters of Sin. We are masters of mistake. As the saying goes, “That is why they put erasers on pencils.” There are unintentional errors. We do often misunderstand each other.
Printing mistakes appear after most careful proof reading by many pairs of eyes. Children, learning to play a musical instrument, by mistake strike wrong keys and produce sounds that not only are not in the score but which clash with what is called for in the score. Who has not experienced the annoyance of being disturbed, often in the wee hours of the night, because someone mistakenly dialed his phone number? It may have been but one digit out of seven that was unintentionally dialed, but one home was filled with fright, and another home had to wait longer for the expected call that all was well.
It is the human error, the misunderstanding of a signal, the poor judgment of a man that causes more automobile collisions and plane crashes than mechanical defects. And look at what we have done with our environment! We have polluted our streams and lakes. Bodies of water that teemed with fish, and provided us with food, have now become our dead seas. Our soldiers have dropped bombs on their own troops. We have taken the wrong exit off the freeway and not only lost much time trying to get back on again, but at times also our way, and become snarled up in the traffic we tried so hard to avoid. But why go on? Mistakes, mistakes! They are all around us. We are ridiculed for them sometimes. We suffer for them so often. We chide ourselves about them and resolve to do otherwise the next time; and in our extra care make a different mistake in the opposite direction.
Sometimes they bring only a smile, and in themselves are laughable. There are times when they bring tragedy. Some years ago several infants died in the nursery of a hospital because someone mistakenly—and not intentionally—added boric acid to the babies’ formula instead of another ingredient. A doctor’s mistaken diagnosis has often led to death because the proper treatment was not begun in time.
O, we are masters of mistakes! We can make mistakes without trying. In fact, the moment that we try, it is no mistake any more. But all these lines have been written to bring this question to you: Do you find anything like this in the rest of the creation from which in folly some claim that we evolved as the highest product? Do these beasts of the field make the mistakes which we repeatedly manifest? Do the birds of the air make the mistakes that pilots with their planes make when trying to land their planes? Did they pollute our air and create our smog? Did the fish, who swim in schools and yet know nothing about “reading, writing and ‘rithmatic” pollute our waters for us, or did we kill them off by our mistakes? If, indeed, we evolved from them as a higher development of what they were, how is it that we do not find them making all the mistakes that our lives produce?
By all means, let us never charge God with any mistakes. He does nothing unintentionally. He never misunderstands. The cross whereon His Son died was no mistake; nor was the choice of Judas as one of the disciples. All comes forth out of the inscrutable wisdom of God, and is executed in a way utterly void of any mistakes of any kind at any time. He IS the Master and He is working on a masterpiece.
There is, of course, a connection between our position as masters of sin and masters of mistake. Our mistakes are due to our lack of knowledge and of wisdom, which also produce carelessness. Because we have not the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning, the principle of wisdom, we are masters of sin. We just do not know how to serve God. And we cannot will to serve Him, as we are by our first birth. But it is also this lack of the fear of the Lord, the lack of this beginning of wisdom that makes us masters of mistake. The holy angels who retained the knowledge and wisdom wherein God created them never make any mistakes. We do that here on this earth. We do not see God in His creation. We do not understand our calling before Him with that creation. We know only that we want to seek ourselves and satisfy the lusts of our flesh.
The rebirth will not put an end to our mistakes here on this earth. It will not put an end to our sins. The new man will never be found sinning. See I John 3:9. But while in this flesh we shall still sin according to the old nature and multiply sin and mistakes. Believers still will need erasers on pencils. We will still be careless, because we will, according to the flesh, still care less about God’s glory and our calling before Him than we did at creation. But the resurrection will—and for the redeemed soul, death will—loose us from all mistakes as well as from all sin. For God shall be all in all of our thinking and willing. And we shall see face to face instead of through a glass darkly. Then we shall be perfect creatures in a perfect environment who will serve our God perfectly.
For that the whole creation groans. Do you?