Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!
What Is Sin?
-by Tony Warren
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
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.
- "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is
the transgression of the law."
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.
- "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
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.
- "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth
from the heart; and they defile the man."
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.
- "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."
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:
- "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
1st Corinthians 10:31-32
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.
- "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:"
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.
- "And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not
of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
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
- "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
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
- "For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness:
neither shall evil dwell with thee."
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.
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.
- "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."
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.
- "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"
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.
- "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."
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.
- "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before
- 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."
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.
- "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
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
- "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".
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).
- "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."
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.
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
- "The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those
that hope in his mercy."
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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