Here is another case of misunderstanding the meaning of words, and it has cost us dearly in our walk with God. We have considered the two words as meaning essentially the same thing, when there is a great difference between them. Sin is the visible manifestation of the evil we do. Iniquity is the invisible reason within that we do the sin. In place after place in the Bible, we are shown iniquity, but we pass over seeing it. Let’s give some examples of iniquity hidden in Bible stories, just waiting to be seen:
We all know the story of Joseph, how he was betrayed by his brothers and sold off as a slave to go to Egypt. There, he experienced many evils against him, but we see how he eventually became the instrument of God to bring about the nation of Israel. He interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream to mean famine was coming upon the land. So Pharaoh installed him in power equal to him in power equal to his own.
Joseph was to rule over the people so they could get through the famine. He had the people prepare by growing extra crops to be stored under his supervision. When the famine came, he sold the food they had grown back to them. Then when they ran out of money, he took their land in trade. When they had nothing left with which to buy food, they sold themselves to Pharaoh as slaves, which made them his own slaves.
Now, in your study of these events, did you get caught up in seeing the good side of the story of how Joseph and his family were reunited by the hand of God? But did you see how Joseph handled his new power? (Yes, it was God’s plan for him to rise to power. But he went beyond that.) Few see this part of the story, or even the resulting sin of robbing the people as having come from his iniquity. The law of sowing and reaping eventually came upon the Israelites for Joseph’s unnecessary action of making slaves of the people. A later Pharaoh then made slaves of the Israelites.
To further illustrate iniquity within our Bible heroes, let’s look at Job. Here was a man known as God’s most righteous man on earth. We see God prompting the devil into testing Job’s faith, resulting in a great trial for Job. Now, if you have been prejudiced by well meaning teachers into thinking this story was a glorious example of Job’s patience, you have missed the point of the trial. The trial was meant by God to take Job into even greater righteousness, exposing and defeating iniquity within that Job was unaware of.
Job knew he held a high position with God, for His blessings on him indicated so. It must have come as a great shock to him when he found that his sacrificing for his children, in case they sinned, was suddenly voided. Think how you would feel if all was going so well, then suddenly your children were all killed, your health failed, and your great wealth had quickly dissolved. Any of us would go into deep depression, wondering why such a thing had come upon us.
As Job’s “friends” pummeled him with accusations, we can see his emotions rising and falling, just as ours would in such a situation. Yes, we see his words of high praise for God at times, but look at some of his other words and you will see that this trial exposed an iniquity, self pity from hidden bitterness. He had gone beyond proper feelings of sorrow for his losses, into pouting over them and this became an accusation without openly accusing God, that he was being treated unfairly. This meant that, hidden in his heart, he assumed he was so righteous that none of this was deserved. While it is true Job did not sin with his words, he did sin against God with his attitude. That showed iniquity.
There are many other stories in the Bible that look good in one way, but have a hidden side of iniquity shown in them. We will show later how and why Joseph and other Bible heroes came to have hidden iniquity within. And in doing so, perhaps we can illustrate how and why we also have hidden iniquity within, and our eyes blinded to that truth just as with those heroes. We can’t get rid of our spots and wrinkles until we see them with spiritual eyes for ourselves.
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