What is Sin

Understand the Doctrine of Sin and how it is Central to Christianity

Sin, its devastation, its consequences, and its ongoing effects are mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible, starting with the "original" sin when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge.

The Hebrew and Greek words translated "sin" throughout the Bible revolve largely around two major concepts. There is ‘transgression’, meaning ‘to step across’ or ‘to go beyond a set boundary or limit.’ Most of the other words translated, sin involve a second concept, ‘to miss the mark.’

1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

Sin can further be defined as the:

- sin of commission - something we do or commit by the act of our will against the command of God.
- sin of omission - when we fail to do something commanded by God through a knowing act of our will. James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
- disobedience or rebellion against God Deuteronomy 9:7 Remember! Do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.
- is doing what is wrong or not doing what is right according to God's rules.

All sin, is rooted in idolatry which is an attempt to put something or someone in the place of the God. Most often, that someone is one's own self.

How do view sin in our culture today

In our culture we often see everything is relative and we cannot agree what is right or wrong and as a result the concept of sin has become muddied in legalities. Our first consideration of sin may take our minds to Ten Commandments, but even then, we tend to think of murder and adultery as major sins, downplaying sins like lying, cursing, or idolatry, etc.

Pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, once said, “We aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we’re sinners.” It’s our nature.

We find in 1 John 5:17 "All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.

Other Bible versions help us more fully understand the meaning:
"Every wrong action is sin" (Twentieth Century New Testament).
"Every act of wrong-doing is sin" (Phillips Modern English).
"Any kind of wrongdoing is sin" (Weymouth New Testament in Modern Speech).
"All iniquity is sin" (Moffatt Translation).

The word translated "unrighteousness" is the Greek adikia. The Expository Dictionary of Bible Words defines it as "action that causes visible harm to other persons in violation of the divine standard"

Now we need to examine, Why do we sin?

Paul said: Romans 7:15 "For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do"

Paul further stated in Romans 7:16~18 "If, then, I do what I will not to do ... it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find"

In our flesh we have only a limited natural ability to conform properly to the standards and values God defines in His law, and not one of us can ever hope to conform to a sinless life.
Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Jesus tells us our flesh is weak and susceptible to temptation. Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" It is the weakness of the flesh that leads us to sin.

James plainly states in James 1:15 “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full–grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

Sin is generated through our fleshly desires, because James 1:14 "each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”

Our flesh is not inherently evil, but it is inherently weak and the appetites of our flesh tempt us to sin.

Without the confession of sin there can be no hope of salvation. Unless there be a true and hearty confession of our sins, we have no promise that we shall find mercy through the blood of the Christ

Proverbs 28:13 “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
There is no promise in the Bible, of hope and escaping Hell, to the one who will not confess his sins.

Verses the help us understand the Attributes of Sin

Sin comes with a high price

Rom. 1:21~24 “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man––and birds and four–footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,”

Sin causes division between man and God.

Isaiah 59:1,2 “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”

Sin is a threat and brings moral decay of any society and civilization.

murder; stealing; false witnessing; coveting neighbor’s house; must honor parents…. Ex. 20:13,15,16,17,

Rom. 13:9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Sin often is the cause of physical, emotional, and psychological problems.

Matt. 19:22 “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions”

1 Cor. 11:28~30 “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”

Sin divides families and freindships, and causes many domestic problems

Matt. 10:36,37 "and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

Sin is rooted in self and causes guilt.

Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”

Sin can alienate the closest of brethren.

Matt. 18:17 “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

Sin will result in an eternity in everlasting hell.

Matt. 25:46 “ And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal”

The terrible truth about sin.

James 1:15~16 “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full–grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

There is a Snowball Effect to Sin

The ‘Snowball effect’ is a figurative term for a process that starts from an initial state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger. It is a known action and often incorporated in business and various pursuits

The snowball effect often a has undesirable result, making an already bad situation even have more adverse issues or results. It can also set in place an ongoing series of apparent self sustained actions, each action resulting in increase.

You can imagine the ‘snowball effect’ as in the following verses

Col. 3:8 “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth..”

The Truth about Sin

Sin is failing to comply with God’s law 1 John 3:4 “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”

Sin often indicates our level of maturity.
Galatians 4: 9-21 “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you. Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?”

Sin offers pleasure for the sinner, but only temporary
Heb. 11:25 KJV Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season

Sin separates the sinner form God. God cannot abide sin
Isa. 59:1,2 “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”

The sinner is responsible for his sin

Adam and Eve and man in general

Gen. 3:12,13; “Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

James 1:13-15. “Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full–grown, brings forth death.”

Sin beginning in Gen. 3

Adam & Eve sinned -not fruit but disobeyed God


Sin remains sin, it matters not how it is viewed by man, society, or the church.
Sin does not know time limitations or restrictions.
What was sin in the First Century, continues to be sin today.

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