It is working at cross-purposes to God’s work underway in a Dispensation. Iniquity may not involve a direct commandment to violate. Abraham didn’t issue any commandments we have record of, but he was called of God and blessed, and therefore, anyone who worked at cross-purposes (i.e., took his wife from him as happened on two occasions) was committing iniquity. Because God’s work varies between Dispensations, the actions which constitute iniquity also vary between Dispensations. In this Dispensation God is working to bring about a people of one heart and one mind, with no poor among them — Zion. Those who oppose equality and favor inequity today commit iniquity — inequity is iniquity (two spellings of the same English word). They — sin and iniquity — do overlap. However, I can envision when a sin is not iniquity: like when Christ’s disciples plucked and ate wheat on the Sabbath, or when David’s warriors ate the shewbread that only the priests were to eat. But neither were iniquity. Then there are occasions when iniquity is not sin. Like when the people who heard Joseph preach failed to respond and accept his role as a messenger sent by God. There was no sin in that, but there was iniquity.
Christ was denounced as a “sinner” because He violated the commandments — repeatedly and openly. His explanation was not that He wasn’t a sinner, but that the law was based on a higher set of principles that were more important than the law itself. And if the observant soul could see the higher principles, then they were to be preferred and followed. His Sermon on the Mount was an extensive exposition on the higher principles underlying the commandments — they were more important, so much so, that if you followed the commandments all your life but failed to notice the underlying principles, then you were truly ungodly and failed to understand the reason God provided the Law to Moses. When confronted about His sins, Christ did not really deny sinning. He instead posed questions about the rigorous focus on the Law to the exclusion of the underlying principle. In the case of His disciples plucking wheat and eating on the Sabbath, He did not reject the idea that it violated the Law but instead took an example from history to show that the life of man is more important. The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.
Paul wanted everyone to know that the Lamb was without blemish because He was sin-free. But the only reason Christ was sin-free was not because He kept the Law — He did not. It was because Christ saw something higher to be followed, and He followed and taught that higher set of principles — principles which bring about godliness, even holiness. Because He practiced holiness as a matter of principle, He was not merely ceremonially clean (which, by the way, He failed to accomplish), but He was instead actually clean. He was holy indeed. Without the need of seeking holiness through the ceremonies of the Law of Moses.
To the extent that it did not involve a violation of higher principles, Christ also kept the Law and observed the Mosaic ordinances. More importantly (and much more importantly) He fulfilled the Law of Moses. He was the Pascal Lamb. He was the sacrifice for sin. The only way He qualified was because His life reflected consistently the higher principles upon which the Law was based. Had He failed to live consistent with those higher principles, He could not have qualified to fulfill the Law. He did not deny He sinned — Paul did that — but His sins were meaningless because His path followed everything commanded by the Father. What the Father said (to Him in His Dispensation) was what He did. Therefore, He was entirely justified and sanctified, albeit an offender of the Law of Moses. Therefore, He was without iniquity.1
1 Scripture committee meeting notes and emails, Oct. 25 – 26, 2017.
Think about how an enhanced understanding of this term, iniquity, changes the meaning of what you may have thought the following scripture phrases once meant. This is King Mosiah setting up the system of Judges for the land — T&C Mosiah 13: 3 “…And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed to teach you the commandments of God and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing nor plundering nor murdering nor any manner of iniquity.[In this case, “iniquity” is getting thrown right in there with some pretty heinous things] And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I punished according to the crime which he hath committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers.”
Then in T&C Mosiah 13: 6-7, same speech going on by King Mosiah to his people he says “…Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right, but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right. Therefore, this shall ye observe and make it your law, to do your business by the voice of the people. 7. And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgements of God will come upon you. Yea then is the time he will visit you with great destruction, even as he has hitherto visited this land…”
Think for a moment what you now know about iniquity [i.e. working counterproductive to God’s purposes] and whether or not your think that perhaps we are now or are swiftly approaching the time when the voice of the people choose iniquity and what that then means for us.
This is a great example of why you need to understand the meaning of words — it changes the meaning of scripture and then your study becomes so much more requisite for you to understanding what the Lord is up to.