What is Sin?

I've heard so many competing definitions, and I'd really like to have a solid answer--what is sin?

Can Christians live above it?
Are Christians forgiven when they do it?
Do Christians lose salvation when they commit it?

If you've a good answer, please share it.

JeffLogan's picture

What is sin?

A short answer tonight. Maybe more later.

There is an answer in scripture that is so plain.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

1 John 3:4 (KJV)

Sin is "the transgression of the law."

Now, I am sure you are familiar with that verse so I must reconsider your question. So let me state the same thing in another way. (I'll address the other aspects of your question about sin in another post.)

I would say that sin is anything that is not in harmony with God's will. We often speak of God's law as either the Ten Commandment moral law, or the civil laws given to Israel, or the law concerning sacrifices. Or sometimes we lump all of them together. But I think in reality God's law can be summed up in one word--Love. Jesus said the two greatest laws were to love God first, and our fellow man next. (Actually, you cannot love your fellow man without the love of God in you.) Then he added that all of the other laws hang from those two greatest laws.

And so it is that all of the the laws--the Ten Commandments, the civil laws and statutes, the sacrificial laws, the sanitation laws, the clean and unclean food laws--are derived from God's great law of love. Each reveals God's love in one fashion or another. Sometimes the revelation of God's love is in the negative as in the prohibition of things that are not love. The "thou shalt nots" of the Ten Commandments take on this form of revealing God's law, or rather, what is not love.

So sin is, then, a breaking of this law of love. And I believe that because carnal men have trouble understanding love, God has given the Ten Commandments to reveal to us some things which are not love, in the "thou shalt nots", and some things which are our duty as in the "honor" parents, and "remember the Sabbath", and "love the Lord with all your heart".

The Israelites gained wisdom as a nation through receiving God's laws and statutes and judgments. These laws have shaped the governments of most, if not all, nations. Men have acknowledged the righteousness of these laws and have adopted them in the bodies of their own laws. It is especially easy to see how the laws of the Ten Commandments are well suited to govern our relationships with other men. In a very practical sense they reinforce the principle that we should treat others as we would like others to treat us.

As I said, I will address the other questions later.

(I am just kinda thinking out loud here so if you see something which doesn't seem quite right then speak up. Sometimes I have been known to misspell some word or use a wrong pronoun or (not me) a malapropism. I find I often miss the "y" in "they" leaving only "the" which can confuse the meaning, at times. Oh, well. I try.)

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"Iniquitas mentita est sibi"


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“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."




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