What Is Sin?

Sin is not a very popular concept these days. At the bottom of it all, it requires an acknowledgement that you are or are doing wrong in the sight of God. People, you may have noticed, don’t usually like to admit they are wrong.

No, these days, it is much more popular to shun the public eye for a few weeks, offer a weak apology and tell the world that you are working on your problem, and then stage a come-back. It is all very artificial. Even if the sorrow is genuine, it is still rather shallow. The defects are painted over rather than really addressed.

Yet, recognizing sin and turning from it is required by God. That’s because sin is harmful. It is often as harmful to the one perpetrating the sin as to any victims. Many times, the victims were innocent bystanders who got swept up into a flow of events not of their choosing.

Before you can turn from sin, you have to know what sin is.

20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20, King James Version)

It is the Law, contained within the pages of your Bible, that define sin. In fact, sin is even defined in terms of the Law.

4Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4, King James Version)

Unrighteous behavior, that behavior that breaks God’s Law in some way, is also sin. God and His Law are defined in terms of “righteous” or “doing what is right”.

17All unrighteousness is sin… (1 John 5:17, King James Version)

While that last might seem like a repetition of the previous passage, it is actually an expansion upon it. We are also told that sin can be what you don’t do.

17Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (James 4:17, King James Version)

Here you see that if someone does not do “good”, or another way of saying what is “right”, that is sin as well. However, even doing the letter of the Law is not enough.

23And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23, King James Version)

As you can see, it also requires faith.

Scott Ashley wrote an excellent article “How Does the Bible Define Sin?” that highlights these points and more.

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