What Is Sin?

Sin – Sin means refusing to do God's will and failing to do all that God wants.  Since Adam's rebellion against God, our nature is to disobey Him.  Our sin cuts us off from God.  Sin causes us to want to live our own way rather than God's way. Because God is morally perfect, just, and fair, He is right to condemn sin.

  Each person has sinned, either by rebelling against God or by ignoring His will (Romans 3:23-25a)
No matter what our background or how hard we try to live good and moral lives, we cannot earn salvation or remove our sin (Romans 3:10)
Only Christ can save us (John 3:16-17).


        God's definition of sin, and His way of deliverance.

This question is of vital importance because of the judgment against those who commit sin. 
In the Old Testament it says, "The soul that sins, it shall die," (Ezekiel 18:20). 
The New Testament says:  "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
    So, the payment for sin is death; or the return for sin is death.

The one who lives in sin throughout his earthly life and faces God without having obtained divine forgiveness will be sentenced to eternal damnation.  Sin sprang full-grown among men.  Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God.  The first boy born on this earth grew to manhood and murdered his next oldest brother!  And sin has existed in every generation since.  There seems to be some confusion about what sin is or is not and since a person will not seek forgiveness for sin until he knows what sin is, a clear-cut definition is needed.

         Sin Is Not Necessarily a Crime

  •          Some equate sin with crime, feeling that to commit sin one must be a murderer, robber, rapist, or such.  We all need forgiveness.  A priest needs forgiveness just as much as a mass murderer.
  •          A crime is a sin, but not every sin is a crime.  Crimes are committed against laws that are made by people.  They generally have been made to protect people, places, animals etc. or to insure that something is done in a particular way.  Sin, on the other hand, is committed against God.  As an example, David wronged Bathsheba, and committed the crime of murder against Uriah her husband, but when the crime was placed before him he affirmed, "Against thee [God], thee only, have I sinned"  (Psalm 51:4).
  •  Sin Is Not Unbelief Alone

  •          Near the end of His ministry, Jesus told His Disciples that the Holy Ghost would  "convict the world of sin… because they believe not on me" (John 16:8-11).  Misinterpreting His meaning, some have concluded that sin is nothing more than unbelief.  But Jesus meant that unbelief would form the basis of sin.  People sin because they do not believe on Jesus Christ.  Unbelief is sin, but it leads to further sin.

         "Sin Is the Transgression of the Law"

  • "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness."  (I John 3:4)
  •          This definition is given in I John 3:4.  By law, the apostle meant the Word of God, which originally was the Old Testament but which now includes the New Testament as well.  Sin, then, is the transgression or the breaking of a commandment found in the Bible – one  of God's commandments.
  • Types of sin: 

    • Sins of commission. 
      Someone is guilty of such a sin when he does something that the Word of God forbids.
    • Sins of omission.
      He who fails to do what he knows God has commanded is guilty of a sin of omission.  "To him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).
    • Original Sin  The state into which all human beings are born.  This comes from  the first sin of Adam and Eve.

    "All Unrighteousness Is Sin"

  •          I John 5:17 declares this truth.  A person is unrighteous when he does what is wrong.  According to this verse, then, when someone does wrong, he commits sin.

         What, then is sin? 

      Simply put, sin is doing what God forbids or failing to do what He commands.

    Is it a sin to just think about committing a sin (contemplate doing it) even if I don't actually do it?

  • Yes.  Jesus said that even thinking evil thoughts in our hearts is as bad as committing the sin.
    • 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)
      In other words, get rid of anything in your life that causes you to sin.
      Jesus is saying that it is not only the wrong things we do that are sin, but it is also the wrong things that we think that are sin.  Why?  Because God looks at a persons heart, not just their actions.

     Is There a Remedy for Sin?

  •          The Bible declares, "The soul that sins, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:20)  Then it adds, "For all have sinned." (Romans 3:23-24)  These two verses place everyone under the sentence of eternal death.
  •          But Jesus did not sin (I Peter 2:22).  Thus He, not being under condemnation for sins of His own, could die for the sins of others.  Therefore, Isaiah could proclaim, "All we like sheep have gone astray;… and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
  •          The only remedy for sin is found in Jesus' death upon Calvary's cross.  "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrew 9:22), and in Christ "we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians  1:14).
  • Must a person respond in any way to obtain this remedy for sin? 

  • Yes!  The Bible says, "He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses  [to God] and forsakes them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13).  And  in   I John 1:9 it says: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
  •          In Acts 2:36-37, sinners who had rejected Jesus as Lord and Messiah asked the apostles, "What shall we do?"  Acts 2:38 records the answer: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
  • God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.           (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • So What is the Remedy for Sin?        See Salvation

    Repent and believe that Jesus Christ DID pay the penalty for your sins. 

      • ADMIT your spiritual need.  "I am a sinner."
      • BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross
      • RECEIVE, through prayer, Jesus Christ into your heart and life.
    • Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock;  if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in . . ."  (Revelation 3:20)
      • "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  (Romans 10:13)
      • Pray a prayer much like this one - and mean it.. 
        • Lord Jesus,
           I know that I am a sinner.  I believe that you are the Son of the Living God and that you died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins.  I believe that you then rose from the dead.  Jesus, please forgive me for the sins I have committed and clean me from the inside out.  Right now, Jesus, I ask you to come into my heart and make of me a new person. 
          Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for coming into my heart, 

    What if A Person Sins Against Me (or offends me) and they won't apologize for it?

  • If we continue to hold unforgiveness in our hearts, it will fester and grow like yeast.  So if the other person has wronged you, forgive them.  If they won't accept your apology or they won't forgive you, confess it the the Lord.  The other person may not even realize they offended you.   See the section on Forgiveness.
  • What Should I Do If The Person Won't Accept An Apology For My Sin Against Them)?

  • If we sin against another person, we sin against the Lord.  So ask the Lord's forgiveness for the sin.  The other person will be accountable to the Lord if they won't forgive you.  But the sin against the other  person will be forgiven you because you asked it of the Lord.   See the section on Forgiveness.


page updated Thursday, October 12, 2017