Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!

What Is Sin?
-by Tony Warren

    The word sin in Hebrew is [chattath], from the root [chatta], and in Greek it is [hamartia]. Both these words mean 'to miss the mark.' They are words which illustrate that something is off target. With relationship to God's laws, they mean that one has failed to meet the standard (missed the mark) set by God for us. God's mark or standard is His law. Thus sin is the transgression of any of the laws of God.

1st John 3:4

  • "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."
This is the biblical definition of sin. It is man not holding to the standards which are set by God. There are some misguided Christians who believe that the law of God consists primarily of the ten commandments. But in truth, the laws of God encompass 'anything and everything' which the Lord declares. In order to understand what sin truly is, we must clear our mind of all preconceived finite notions about what is good and bad. We must clear our mind of what the natural man (society in general) looks upon as sin, and look upon it with the seriousness that God does.

Matthew 12:36

  • "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
Words which are carelessly uttered is sin. Words which condemn, words with no regard for justice, or for people's feeling, words intended to hurt, or which are immoral, these are all examples of sin which man has to answer for. For words are the expression of evil thoughts come from the heart.

Matthew 15:18

  • "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man."
And so sin is "far" more prevalent than man would like to believe. Because we not only sin in deed, but also in mere thought there is sin. It is anything which causes us to be opposed to, or adversarial against God. We don't have to commit the physical act of sin, the very intents of the heart is sin even before we've worked it out in our mind in some practical fashion. In other words, our very thoughts condemn us of sin. Forit's not what we think is sin that counts, it's what God knows sin is. It's how God defines sin that counts.

Matthew 5:27-28

  • "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
  • But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
In just a wayward eye God sees the intents of our heart, and it is already sin. In these truths are illustrated just how desperately we all need a Saviour, and how none of us, of ourselves, can stand in communion with God. We have all been separated from God by sin in our thoughts and intents. Sin which may even be hidden from us by our vanity or lack of humility, but which is not hidden from an omniscient God. We stand as naked with our sins before Him. And the Word of God is judgement upon this sin.

Hebrews 4:12-13

  • "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
  • Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."
Thus we should all be convicted when we read such things, because none of us (no not one), has perfect thoughts and intents that he might stand. Careless thoughts may be minimized, forgotten, or hidden by man, but they are made manifest in God's sight. Without Christ, it is impossible to keep all of God's Word and not sin (whether in thought or deed). We cannot keep "the whole" law of God. As a practical example:

1st Corinthians 10:31-32

  • "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
  • Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:"
These are the commandments or laws of God. So if we should spend one split second not 'doing all to the Glory of God,' then we have in that second missed the mark. We have not lived up to the standards which God has set for us. In simple terms, we have sinned or transgressed God's law.

Romans 14:23

  • "And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
Sin is ever before us in our thoughts, in our intents, and in our doubts. Man may ask, why does God take sin so seriously? But the more appropriate question is, why does man take sin so lightly? The answer is that it is his fallen nature to take sin lightly because he does not really comprehend the 'true' Holiness of God. Sin is serious business. I do not believe that man will fully understand the seriousness of sin while he is on this earth and in the flesh. If we could clearly see how sacred, pure, and righteous God is, then we would understand how dreadful, awful, and appaling that sin is to Him. But now we see through a glass darkly (1st Corinthians 13:12). God hates sin because it is contrary to the first and great commandment to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and is a deviation from the law which He (the perfect engineer and pattern creator) has decreed for those 'made in His image.' God is Holy and sinless, and all things were created for His pleasure. Sin is warfare against that divine purpose and will of God.

Revelation 4:11

  • "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
All things were created in harmony with His will, for His pleasure, and in accordance with His purposes, and sin is an assault upon this divine and perfect plan of God. It tramples upon God's Holy word in favor of the words of men. This inherently destroys that which is pure, good and virtuous (that which God has pleasure in), and replaces it with that which pollutes, is wicked, and immoral (that which God has no pleasure in).

Psalms 5:4

  • "For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee."
God cannot abide wickedness, for He is the antithesis of evil. Indeed, no evil can dwell with Him because He has a perfect hatred for it. As darkness cannot dwell in light, so sin is at enmity with God's supreme good, and with that which He wants for His creation. It is the destroyer of trust, and the adversary of the truth. It is an offense unto God because it dehumanizes and brings man down to the level of the beasts of the earth. When we take a look at sin honestly and in nobleness, is it any wonder that the wages of sin (Romans 6:23) is death? Man in general does not understand that the rules and laws of God were instituted for our good, not to burden us. Transgressing them produces disorder and destruction which ruins the good that God has created for His pleasure.

I think that God's swift and harsh judgment of Adam's one sin should be evidence enough to us of just how serious and horrible sin is to Him, but often the lesson is lost upon man. He is usually so wrapped up in the cares of this world that he seldom thinks about his assault upon God's Holiness. The very fact that Christ went to the cross, and to an infinite degree suffered in anguish for those sins, clearly illustrates it's terribleness and how it is an affront to God. God hates sin because He created man in His image, and sin is man's rebellion against that act. It separates man from His presence. While we are finite beings which may not be able to see two feet in front of us, God is infinite and omniscient and fully comprehends sin's destructive power.

Isaiah 59:1-2

  • "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
  • But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."
This separation is the precise reason that we needed a Saviour to bridge that gap and reconcile us that we conform to that image we had in creation (Romans 8:29). Like arrows missing the target, we have 'all' fallen short of the mark, and thus we all need this Saviour Christ. There is no way that we could be sinless and never transgress against God because of our fallen nature in Adam. Not one of us could.

Romans 3:23

  • "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"
All have missed the mark. And sin is an open attack upon God. Thus it was impossible that man could Save himself. It would take a miracle. With men this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible (matthew 19:26). For even what we might consider good is tainted by sin (Isaiah 54:6) which we may not even be aware of. But with God, we can be sinless, for then are all things are possible. That is why Christ came. All men had disobeyed God's Word in one way or another, and only in Christ is it possible to be without sin. This transgression or disobedience to God's laws, which we all are guilty of, is what sin is.

Jeremiah 44:23

  • "Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day."
In not doing what God declared, or in thinking unlawfully, we have sinned. We have missed the mark which the Lord as Sovereign creator has set over us. And because of our sins, we rightly come under judgment of the God. Mercifully, God has provided for us a way to be redeemed from our law breaking. Jesus Christ is that gift of God sent to purge the sins of all those chosen of God to believe and confess their sins.

Psalms 51:3-4

  • "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
  • Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest."
Confession means we realize in our hearts that we have missed the mark or transgressed God's laws. In repentance we honestly make confession unto God and admit that we are sinners who deserve to be judged.

Romans 10:9

  • "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
So then if we confess our sins, and then confess Christ our sin bearer, we have a faithful promise not to be taken lightly. Yes, we have sin which keeps us from fellowship with the sinless God. But God doesn't leave us comfortless, He has provided a Way that we can be clean of all our sins, through the judgment of our sins in the body of Christ our Saviour. So though we all are guilty of sin, or of disobeying God's Word, we need not be in despair if we are in Christ.

Isaiah 55:7

  • "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon".
Sin is the transgression of the law which inherently distorts the truth, but Christ is the propitiation for our transgressions 'wherein' that law no longer holds judgment over us. That price having been paid in full in His body.

Romans 7:4-6

  • "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
  • For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
  • But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."
Whosoever is born of God cannot sin (1st John 3:9) because being raised in Christ has made him dead to the law (there is no transgression).

All these things should make us humbly consider just what is our attitude toward sin? Do we look at it honestly for how terrible it is in God's sight and strive to turn away from it, or do we rationalize our sin away as being 'not so bad,' thinking that God will just wink at it? The evidence of being born from above is that we have an ernest desire to do God's will and not commit sin. We are a new creation who no longer wants to transgress the laws of God. In the flesh we will, but in Christ we are as Romans 7:8 says, 'delivered from the law' of condemnation.

And so knowing what sin is, and how it is contrary to God's nature, and an affront to God's will, let us walk circumspectly in obedience, reverence, and expectation, knowing this is His pleasure, and that all the evils of society emanate from sin (Jeremiah 5:25). Let us go forth in renewed vigor in meekness and fear, buoyed by reason of the hope that is in us.

Psalms 147:11

  • "The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy."
Whatsoever opposes the pleasure of God, is sin of man. Understanding these truths, and the consequences of sin, and the glorious sacrifice Christ made for us, let us glorify God for the great gift that He has freely given us. Sin being the transgression of the law unto condemnation. But Salvation being by the Grace of God in merciful deliverance from the judgement thereof.

    May the Lord who is Gracious above all grant us the wisdom and understanding to come to the knowledge of the truth of His most Holy Word.



Copyright ©1999 Tony Warren
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Created 4/1/97 / Last Modified 12/5/99
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