What is Sin?
What Is Sin?
In our modern culture the concept of sin is quickly fading. People opt for less convicting language like “mistakes” or “indiscretions.” The whole premise behind the concept of sin is that there is an all-wise, authoritative God who determines what is right and wrong. If we remove ourselves from that premise, then who is to say what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior? Each person becomes his own god.
The Bible has much to say about sin, beginning with the very first couple, Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). Their decision to disobey the command of God not to eat the forbidden fruit has been perpetuated by the misdeeds of mankind ever since. While we do not inherit the guilt of their sin (Romans 2:6; 5:12; 14:12), we are born into a fallen world and seem prone to disobey God (Romans 5:12–21).
There are many different words in the New Testament that describe what it means to disobey God. Here are several of these terms:
1) Sin—fault, missing the mark (Romans 6:23).
2) Error—wandering, forsaking the right path (James 5:20).
3) Lawlessness—going against or beyond the law (Matthew 7:23, NASB).
4) Crime—unrighteousness, wickedness, injustice (Acts 24:20).
5) Evil—wickedness (Matthew 22:18).
6) Trespass—false step, blunder, transgress (Matthew 6:14, 15, KJV).
7) Transgression—overstepping the boundaries (Romans 4:15).
8) Godlessness—irreverence for that which is holy (Romans 1:18).
9) Evil desire—lust, craving for that which is forbidden (Romans 6:12).
We can disobey God in various ways. Sometimes we engage in “sins of commission,” that is, we do what God has forbidden (“do not”). Other times we are guilty of “sins of omission,” that is, we fail to do what God has positively commanded (“do”). There are some sins that we commit intentionally out of rebellion and selfishness. Other sins we perform out of ignorance of God’s will. Many lists of sins occur throughout the Bible (Proverbs 6:16–19; Romans 1:18–32; 1 Corinthians 5:9–13; 6:9–11; Galatians 5:19–21; Revelation 21:8). Sin is not limited to outward behavior. Rather, there is a progression: evil thoughts, evil motives, evil attitudes, evil actions.
God is not responsible for our sin; he does not cause us to do evil, but does allow us the choice. God does not allow Satan to tempt us beyond what we are able to withstand, but provides a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). We are drawn into sin by our own evil desires (James 1:13–15).
Our choice to commit sin has disastrous results. By our rebellion and disobedience, we separate ourselves from fellowship with a holy God (Isaiah 59:1, 2). The paycheck for sin is death, that is, eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23). Herein lies the need for someone to rescue us from this horrible fate! In his great love, God offered his only unique Son Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement. God substituted the sinless Christ for us on the cross. In his crucifixion, Jesus took on the penalty for our sin and for a short time was separated from the Father.
(Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.)