What is Sin?

If you ask 10 people this question you are likely to get about 15 answers. The first thing we have to do is to find out who to ask the question to. By this I mean, who has the right to define what is sin and what is not. It is my belief that God is the only One who has that right. Click here to read why I believe this.

So, how does God define sin? God defines sin in a couple ways. Any discussion of sin must start with the Law of Moses (see Exodus 20). Romans 3:20 says “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” One of the main purposes of God giving the Law was so the people would be able to recognize their sin. If God had not given the Law then nobody would know what sin was or when they are sinning. With the Law people can not claim ignorance.

Romans 14:23b says “…..For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” This means that anything that is not motivated by/through faith is sin. (What constitutes faith is beyond the scope of this post but I may write a post about this in the future.) Only God knows someone’s motives and heart and there is no hiding anything from Him. If we are acting through faith then whatever we do will bring glory to God.  If we are not acting in faith then whatever we do will not ultimately bring glory to God and by definition is sin. Unregenerate people (non-believers) will never act on faith (because they don’t have any faith) and their actions will always be sinful (again, by definition).  Regenerate people (Christians) can choose to or not to seek to bring glory to God through their obedience to God’s plan / purposes.

1 John 5:17 says “All wrongdoing is sin….“. Webster’s dictionary defines wrongdoing as “evil or improper behavior or action”.  This seems clear and simple. Who decides what is wrongdoing? God does. He gives us the guidelines in His word. He gives us some explicit do’s and don’ts in His word. He also gives us general guidelines for the areas not explicitly covered. Everyone (the unregenerate and the regenerate alike) can be guilty of wrongdoing. 

James 4:17 says “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  This applies only to the regenerate because you must be a believer to “know the right thing to do”.  We know what is the right thing to do by God’s word.    Do you sense a recurring theme here?  Basically God gives us the guidelines to live by and at any and every point where we fail to meet them then we are in sin.  It really is that simple.


One Response to What is Sin?

  1. Pingback: What are the consequenses of Sin? « The Everyday Christian

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