What is Sin
What is Sin? What does the bible say about it? This question is without mentioning all wars that were responsible for the death of millions of people around the world through human history.
Many people don’t realize this and try to give solutions to the problems they see in humanity. Some say that the real problem is ignorance and give education as a solution. Others think it is because of individuality and advocate meditation and disconnection from self as a possible solution. Communists always thought capitalism is responsible for the problems of the world. They say if we get rid of this capitalist system, this will solve all the problems as soon as it vanishes away.
However, the Bible says the root problem is not any of these things. The Holy Scriptures say the real root problem is sin.
It is easy to think of murderers, thieves and rapists as sinners. But it is not easy to look at our neighbors, close friends and loved ones and say they are sinners. What is even harder is to look at ourselves individually and say we are sinners especially if we think we are brought up generally well.
In this article, I want to define and clarify what sin is according to the Bible.
What Does Sin Mean
So what does sin mean and what are sins supposed to be when it comes to us? According to the bible, there are many things and situations that can be qualified as sin. Generally, we read about sins of conduct such as theft, lying and murder but also we read about sins of character like arrogance, greed and envy. The Scriptures also mention sin as a human reality we are born into.
Let’s look at some of these things.
Sinners In Conduct
The clearest type of sin is in conduct and the Bible explicitly mentions many. It is the sin that is coming from what we do.
John says in his first letter:
1 John 3:4 – Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
So it is by looking at God’s commandments that we discover that we all have sinners. These commandments are not necessarily those of the older covenant but also from the New Testament where the standard is brought up higher by the Lord Jesus Christ. But we only have to look at the ten commandments and judge ourselves, we will quickly realize that even though we might not have done what we consider to be the worse sins, we are still guilty of breaking God’s laws.
While some think it is okay as long as we don’t do the major sins, that is not what the Bible says. The Bible clearly says that to break one law is to break all of them. It is like a whole chain and as soon as you lose one link, the whole chain is broken and we are guilty.
This might also come as a surprise to some: sin is not only things wrong we do but things right we don’t do which is also clear from the bible. We only have to read Jesus’ words in the book of Matthew:
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Because sin can be known by God’s commandments in the Bible, some would think that ignorance of these laws would be a way of excusing bad behavior. Unfortunately, that is also not the case as the Scriptures say otherwise:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are WITHOUT EXCUSE
So men who don’t know the laws of God will have their conscience that bears witness to the morality of God. They also refuse to recognize God as Creator from the things being externally made. So each man will be without excuse. Therefore, there will be no “I didn’t know” with God because we all know according to the Bible.
Sinners In Character
We are also all sinners in character according to the bible. For example, if someone steals one time, it can be a one-time sin but if that person keeps on stealing then he takes on the character of a thief. So a habitual sin takes a form of character and we become the result of our habitual sins.
Another form of sin in character are internal like envy, lust, greed, jealousy and pride which is the worst one and is the root cause of many other evils.
To realize we are sinners in our character can be also done through the Bible especially in the New Testament where Jesus Christ brought the commandments of God to a higher standard working with the deep intention of a man’s soul. The Bible is described as a mirror or an X-ray into our character and deep into our souls.
We also can realize we are sinners on the inside when we meet Christ spiritually, in other words through the revelation of the Holy Spirit when we are born again.
Sinners In Completeness (total depravity)
In Romans 7, Paul says:
Romans 7:18 – For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh (ESV)
Theologians call this “total depravity” which that in man, there is nothing good. That means that anything good coming from man is not due to his flesh nature but only because of God’s influence through His Spirit. Without God’s Spirit influence on the conscience of man, we would all become completely evil. This is also clear according to scriptures (KJV):
Romans 3:10 – As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one (quoted by the apostle Paul from Psalm 14:3)
Isaiah 64:6 – all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags
And also the Lord Jesus’ words:
Matthew 7:11 – If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
So according to Jesus Christ, we are inherently evil but know how to give good gifts. That again is not because of our nature but because of the Spirit influencing our conscience. In other words, the bible is clear about one thing: we are completely evil. This is contrary to what many people including Christians believe and could come as a surprise: we are not good persons who do bad things, we are bad persons who do good things. There is no generation worse than another, no culture worse than another, no person worse than another, we are all completely evil.
Sinners In Constitution
Not only in the flesh, all men are completely evil and totally depraved, they are born that way in sin, in a fallen state. This is what King David thought:
Psalm 51:5 – Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
This is clear also, especially for parents as they always teach their children to do right. We never teach our children to be bad, but to be good. We never teach them to be rude but to be kind. In other words, since we are born, we are sinners in constitution. This comes also because of the fallen state of our world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
Sinners In Condemnation
Finally, we are sinners already under condemnation. This is the bad news we have to accept before we hear the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Romans 1 states that because we give God up, He will give us up.
21 BECAUSE that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God ALSO gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
This passage of Romans 1 is very important because it shows us that when we remove God from our lives, He will remove the breaks and He will no longer talk to our conscience. If the Spirit of God is still talking through our conscience, if we don’t listen, if we don’t give credit to Him, glorify Him and are thankful, there will come a time where He will remove take even His spiritual influence on our conscience, and then we will die spiritually. If we die spiritually, we cease to be human beings when our relationship with God is broken completely. This is because what makes us human beings is that we are made in the image of God and can enter into a relationship with Him by His Spirit. If we break that link, we are dead and lost.
We are therefore under condemnation because of sin and even now, we are being held from being completely reprobate by the grace of God.
Meaning of Salvation
It is by knowing how evil we are that we understand the true meaning of salvation: we are sinners under condemnation, we are also sinners in our constitution in a complete manner and finally, because of this, our fruits are also rotten and we are sinners in character and in conduct.
So salvation is not only about being saved from hell but about being saved from sin which is a ROOT PROBLEM deep in our nature and because of the root, the branches and the leaves are rotten.
That is the meaning of salvation in true Christianity: God deals with the disease of sin at the ROOT of the problem.
All we need to do is go to Jesus Christ’s, to His sacrifice on the cross, to realize our nature, to believe in Him and to cry out to Him for forgiveness.
First, He will grant forgiveness to bring us out from under condemnation.
Second, He will give us the Holy Spirit, cause our Spiritual Rebirth and make us new creatures dealing with our sinful constitution and total depravity.
Then, because of our new nature and through sanctification of the Spirit, we will see the changes in our character and finally our conduct.
My friend, if you are still under condemnation, you need to know one thing. You don’t need to put your conduct right, you don’t need to change your bad character. You just need to come to Jesus Christ and He will do it.
Just come to Him with the deep root problem of sin realizing you are a sinner deserving condemnation, just say: “God be merciful to me”.
May God bring you to Him through this realization!