I came across a book outlining the difference between sin and iniquity. The author defines iniquity as generational soul sin. I’m finding the book interesting and enlightening, but perplexing too. Could you expound on what iniquity is? Is it deep generational sin that gets passed on if we don't ask God to remove it? — G.S.

Perhaps the author is basing the distinction on Exod 34:7, where God “visits” the iniquity of the fathers on the children, for three or four generations—a passage I believe is describing the damage that sin can effect within one’s family.

Yet sin and iniquity are virtual synonyms. Here are a few examples:

  • Ps 38:18—"I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin."
  • 2 Sam 24:10—"... And David said to the Lord, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.'"
  • Ezek 18:20—"The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son."
  • 2 Tim 2:19—"... 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.'”

Someone is reading too much into the text. Your book may contain some interesting insights, but that doesn’t mean they’re grounded in scripture. Of course this isn’t to deny that our sin can have a devastating impact on our children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. But such a distinction between iniquity and sin is invalid.