What Is Sin?

To begin with, let us establish a definition for sin. The word used to describe sin in the New Testament was the Greek word “hamartia,” which literally means “to miss the mark.” The term was used in the sport of archery to describe an errant shot at a target. Therefore, a layman’s definition of sin that would fit within the context of the bible would be “anything that falls short of the mark (or target) of holiness before God.”

Sin can be committed both by our deeds and our lack thereof. There is a confession in the Methodist Church that reads “forgive us for what we have done, and for what we have left undone.” Sins that we actively commit are things such as lying, stealing, cheating, adultery, idolatry (and yes, it is capable even in today’s modern society of committing idolatry), greed, and the like. Sins that occur because of our inaction are sins like not loving our neighbor as ourselves, failing to honor God, failing to give, and the like.

Our desires and wants are not in and of themselves always sinful, provided we do not desire something that is biblically condemned as sinful, such as theft, lying, slander, greed, etc. However, they may still not be the direction God wants us to go in our lives. Consider David’s desire to build a temple for God, and how God turned David’s offer down. It was not a sinful desire in David’s heart, but a righteous desire. God’s plan, however, was different from David’s. Therefore, while David’s intentions were not sinful, they were not what God wanted. Had David built a temple for the LORD, it then would have been sinful because of the action of willfully disobeying God. When considering one’s desires in light of scripture, consider the following:

  • Men are sinful by nature (Romans 3:10-12).
  • We can be transformed in our desires (Romans 8:6-9).
  • God can direct our lives through our transformed desires (Philippians 2:12-13).

When we are lining our lives up with God’s will, our desires will be transformed, at which point our desires can actually be used by God to accomplish His will through us and our desires.

In consideration of feelings and emotions, one would do well to consider the fruits of the spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23, which are love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Another passage to consider is 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul describes the characteristics of love. Since we are to live with love toward others, this then should be our response to others. As for anger, the life of Jesus says much about anger. Jesus displayed righteous indignation at the temple moneychangers, not for His own sake, but for the sake of others (the people who were being swindled and the LORD Himself). However, in vindication of Himself, He was often silent, such as at His trials before the Sanhedrin and the Roman government. Therefore, the proper perspective on anger would be this: Anger is not a sin provided it is not aimed at protecting one’s own interest, but is proper from the standpoint of consideration toward the injustice of others.

Provided to www.gotquestions.org



2 thoughts on “What Is Sin?

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  1. “Sin is transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4 That’s the 10 commandment law. No one seems to have that scripture in their Bible. So many give some convoluted definition of sin, yet there it is. Of course, very few are interested in the 10 commandments, especially preachers. The Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday. They’d have to change their entire worship schedule!

  2. I don’t know that I would say that very few people, pastors included, are interested in the 10 commandments. And while yes, I agree with 1 John 3:4 that sin is a transgression of the law, it is just as easily definable as missing the mark of holiness, which is, of course, transgressing God’s laws. In addition, if you really want to get into the law, there are 603 more commands you leave out in speaking only to the ten commandments. Therefore, I consider it most succinct to spell out sin as missing the mark of holiness before the Almighty, lest I leave something out.

    Of course, all legal wrangling in the matters of sin could be quelled by considering Jesus’ expounding on the two greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with your all, and love your neighbor as yourself.

    Another thing I would ask is that, as Paul put forth in Colossians, there is no one day better than another. Therefore, it is entirely within the rights of the Christian to worship on Sunday, considering the worship of the LORD on Sunday was a natural outcropping of the LORD’s resurrection on that day. If you remember, the early church met on both Saturday and Sunday, until Gentile converts were brought into the body of Christ, at which point they worshiped exclusively on Sunday.

    Just some points to ponder as well.

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