Skip to main content

Sin — Principles to Define It and Identify It

Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, a baptist church in Jessup, MD. B.A. in Bible, B.S. English Ed., M.S. in Educational Leadership.

Why Is It Important to Understand Sin?

Why is it important for us to understand sin? God's word (the Bible) tells us that sin separates us from God forever: because of sin, we were enemies of God, objects of his wrath, and as good as dead to Him (Romans 5:10, Ephesians 2:1, Ephesians 2:3). However, God—who is rich in mercy—sent Jesus to rescue us from sin, God's wrath, and death (Romans 4:25). Jesus died on a cross to pay for our sins with his blood, and he rose from the dead to offer us eternal life. Sin, then, is a very serious thing before God, and as Christians we should not engage in it (Romans 6:1).

The Concept of Sin

What then is sin? The Bible declares that God is righteous in all His ways (Psalm 145:17). As God's creation, we are called to recognize the righteousness, holiness, perfection, and excellence of all His ways (thoughts, decisions, and actions). Consequently, sin is anything that contradicts or opposes God's character. Whatever we do, say, think, or feel—whatever attitudes we develop, whatever decisions we make, if they contradict God, they are sin.

Now, you might ask, "How can I know if something contradicts or opposes God's character?" Good question—read your Bible. God has given us the Bible to teach us about Himself so we can know what He is like, what He has done, and what He expects from us. In a general sense, God has given us (in the Bible) His law for us.

Those who disobey the Bible (God's word) disobey God, they contradict and oppose his ways and his character. Therefore, they have sinned (John 3:4).

Now, you must read you Bible with discernment,. Not all things in the Bible apply to us today. We are no longer under the Law of Moses, but under the Law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21, Galatians 6:2). What the law of Christ is, however, will be a topic we will develop another day—but for now, we'll define it as the New Testament portion of the Bible, particularly the epistles.

What Else Is Sin? Can You Be More Specific?

The Bible also gives us other principles that help us define sin a lot more.

First, you should take in consideration that anything that breaks or transgresses God's law (the law of Christ) is sin, regardless of whether you knew it was sin or not (Leviticus 5:17). This makes sense: our ingorance does not change the character of our actions, nor does it change the character of God—if we break God's law, we have sinned, regardless of whether we knew we were breaking God's law or not.

Second, if we fail to do something that we knew was good for us to do, this is also sin (James 4:17). So, maybe you were trying to avoid a sticky stituation, or maybe you were trying not to get involved in something that you felt was none of your business—well, if you knew there was an opportunity for you to do something that was morally good, but you didn't do it, you sinned (you broke God's law).

For example, if you see a mother in need of food for herself and the baby, it is sin for you not to help them—even if doing so makes you uncomfortable because you're concerned about what other people will think about you for talking to her.

Third, it is also sin to do anyting while doubting (Romans 14:23). We are called to live one day to another, one moment to the next, by faith in God. If we doubt, hold on to doubt instead of holding on to faith, we sin.

For example, if you feel bad about eating a hamburger because a cow had to die for you to have that hamburger—even though God has not told us that eating hamburgers is bad, it is now sin (to you personally) to eat that hamburger, because you weren't able to eat with faith in God, giving Him thanks for the food He provided to you. Anyone else can eat that hamburger withotu sinning, but you can't, because you doubt.

Anytime we hold on to our doubts, we are questioning God's character and work in our lives. Therefore, to doubt is sin.

Now, you have to be careful with this principle, because the opposite of it is not true. So, God has said that lying is wrong (it's in the Bible). So, let's say you believe that you find yourself in a situation in which you think lying will be better because it will keep the peace between all parties—so you tell yourself, "Self, I can lie because I have faith God is going to be okay with it." Was God really okay with it? No! Why? Because He has already said that lying is wrong. It doesn't matter how much faith you have in that case... you're still sinning.

Scroll to Continue

Now, I know that some of you will ask, "What if my lie will save the lives of innocent people? Would it be wrong if I lied then?" That is a difficult question to answer—life presents us with many difficult situations, and I pray we never find ourselves in such situation. In that case, perhaps the best I can tell you is, "Ask God to guide you... He will know the answer."

The State of Sin

There is another important principle that we should know about sin, and it is found in (Psalm 51:5). All of us have been born in a world marred by sin, to a race (the human race) permeated with sin.

Humanity is completely contaminated and inffected with sin. From the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God, all humanity was inffected with sin (Romans 5:12). Not that sin is a pollutant or a diseas (a bacteria, a virus, or a fungus), but that sin behaves like these—my sins do not only affect me, they also affect my family, my church, my friends, society, and the world.

For example—suppose a man is abused as a child (verbally, physically, emotionally, sexually, or in any other way). That man did not sin—he was a victim of someone else's sin. Nevertheless, the abuse he receive could affect him in such way (traumatize him), that he will develop sinful feelings, thoughts, habits, and behaviors in his life (this is true of everyone—of some more than of others). He may feel angry all the time, afraid, resentful, and unable to forgive—it is even possible that he himself will become an abuser of others, including of his own family.

As you can see, we (humans) are very fragile—like little fish in a fish tank. Put a little bit of bleach in the water, and all your fish will die. It is the same with us: a little sin in the world makes all humanity exceedingly sinful.

Lord, Save Us from Our Sins

In this world and in this life, sin is inescapable for us. Sin has completely peremeated every human mind and soul, every culture, the whole of society, the entire human race. For this reason, it was up to God to rescue us from our sin. How did He do it?

He sent His own Son, Jesus Christ the Righteous, to die for our sins—to buy our pardon with his own blood so that He could freely offer us forgiveness and eternal life.

One day, God will make all things new. Then, all those who have welcomed Jesus Christ into their lives as their Lord and Savior (the Son of God) will live with him forever, and with the Father, in the new Earth God will make for us—a world completely free from sin. May He bring it to pass in our days!

Questions for Reflection

  1. What new concepts have you learned from this devotional?
  2. Are there any other biblical princinples that help us define and identify sin?
  3. How have your own sins affected your life?
  4. How have your own sins affected the lives of others—especially your loved ones?
  5. How have the sins of others affected your own life?
  6. Why is sin inescapable for us?
  7. How can we be saved from our sins?
  8. Have you receved Jesus Christ in your heart? Do you believe that He is the Son of God, that He died for your sins, abnd that He resurrected?

Have you invited Jesus into your heart?

© 2021 Marcelo Carcach


Marcelo Carcach (author) from Westminster, MD on January 21, 2021:

Thank-you, Dora. Amen!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 21, 2021:

Thanks for sharing your insights on the topic of sin. We all need to think and study these principles for our own good.

Related Articles