What About the Sins of Bible Heroes?

By Wayne Jackson

Would you comment concerning the deceit and lying that occurred on the part of certain Old Testament figures, such as Abraham, Isaac, and others? I have trouble with this every time I read Genesis.

Certainly. Your question is very thoughtful. The following points, I believe, will help put this issue in focus:

(1) The Bible does not attempt to conceal the foibles of the great people that adorn its pages. Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, etc., were normal human beings. They sinned like all other offspring of Adam who have matured to a level of personal accountability (Romans 3:10, 23). Jesus Christ was the only exception (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22). If the Scriptures portrayed all these characters as flawless, that would make the book suspect. The fact is, the honesty of the record with reference to the character of its heroes is one of the telling evidences of Bible inspiration.

(2) The mere recording of the weaknesses of these men does not suggest that their actions were condoned by the Lord. Clearly, they were not. Abraham’s lie was brought to light, Moses’ transgression prevented him from entering into Canaan, and David’s sin with Bathsheba precipitated serious and long-lasting consequences (see 2 Samuel 11:27; 12:9ff).

(3) An important point to remember is this: in spite of their frailties, these men had great faith in Jehovah, and they struggled to do his will most of the time. And this is what the life of divine service is all about.

None of us will ever reach a plateau of permanent perfection while we are still in the flesh. We will do things wrong and fail to carry out obligations that are needful. But we can take courage from the rich examples of the past, strive to overcome our weaknesses, and pursue the life of renewed dedication each day (cf. Romans 15:4).

Here is an important point to remember: no legitimate discrepancy, or moral problem, can be charged against the Bible unless there is absolutely no possibility for offering a reasonable explanation. In the examples cited above, that certainly is not the case. The sacred Scriptures have nobly withstood the indictments of self-proclaimed critics across the ages. Place your confidence in this wonderful book.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.