Sin is a part of our life because we are humans. The Bible gives us a clear definition of sin and plenty of examples to learn from, but we also learn how we can be saved from sin and death through Jesus.
What is sin? Sin is when we don’t meet God’s standard. Augustine of Hippo defines sin as “a word, deed, or desire in opposition to the eternal law of God.” Sin is going against God and His perfect ways.
You can also watch Kenneth Ortiz and Ken Freire as they discuss the definition of sin in Just Disciple’s YouTube video “What is Sin?”
The Bible’s Definition Of Sin
Throughout the Bible, we see many examples of sin.
God created a perfect world in the beginning, and he created Adam and Eve with dominion over the earth with simply the instructions to avoid the fruit of one tree in the garden.
Through Satan’s influence, they both ate of the fruit of the tree, and therefore sin and death became a part of the lives of every human.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—Romans 5:12
Sin is something every human struggle with every day. The one and only exception is Jesus.
Jesus was tempted while on earth but lived his life free of sin.
Even David, a man after God’s own heart committed adultery and murder. We know that we face temptations and many times we fall into temptation and sin.
God has given us a standard, he has given us laws that we are to obey, God has told us the right way to live life.
Christians aim to live as Jesus did, it is when we do not live up to that standard and fall short that we sin.
When we are told to love our neighbor as we are instructed in Mark 12:31, and when we fail to do this, we are sinning.
God gives us laws and standards to live by, when we do not meet the standards that God gives us, or when we break the laws and do not follow what God has commanded us, we are sinning, and when we sin we deserve death.
For the wages of sin is death.Romans 6:23a
From Genesis God makes it very clear that the punishment for sin is death, and there is nothing that we can do about it.
There are multiple specific terms that are used to describe what sin is, including iniquity, transgressions, omission, and commission.
The Iniquity Of All People
Iniquity is because of the sin of Adam, there is something twisted in us inherently. We are bent towards evil and not good.
As humans, we are in a sinful state. This is why we commonly fall into temptation.
We can try as hard as we want all day, but we cannot stop ourselves from our sinful nature and have no tools on our own to fight against it.
When we break the laws that God has given to us and we ask the question of why, it comes back to our twisted and broken nature because of the fall, our iniquity.
Iniquity and sin can sometimes be used interchangeably in scripture, but ultimately they both point towards our sinful nature.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,Psalm 51:5
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Unfortunately, from birth sin is a part of who we are. As we read in Psalms we were born into this world with the sinful nature that all people have.
Thankfully we have hope, we can do nothing about the sinful nature we have, but we know through Jesus’ death on the cross we have redemption.
Transgression: Choosing Wrong Instead Of Right
More than just having a broken and twisted nature inside of us, transgression is the sin that is a product of our iniquity.
Transgression is when we know right and wrong, and we choose wrong.
Not only do we choose wrong, it is intentional.
When we disregard authority and do our way, it is intentional, and a transgression.
When looking at many characters throughout scripture we can realize that even those who pursued after God and were commended for their faith fell short.
Jesus alone is the only man to walk the earth without sin.
Samson for example grew up knowing rules that he had to follow that included not touching dead animals or cutting his hair.
These were very strict guidelines that were given to him since birth, and even knowing these and knowing their consequences he broke the rules anyway.
He then experienced the consequences, we as humans are broken, but we know through Jesus we have hope even in our transgressions.
God used Samson even after he had sinned, even despite our sinful nature and transgressions we have committed God can still use us if we let him.
Omission & Commission
There are also subcategories of sins- omission and commission. They are both sins and transgressions against God and all deserving of death.
Sins of omission are specifically when you know what the right thing to do is and you do not do it.
We are commanded in the Bible to help those in need and when we pass those people by it is a sin of omission.
We know what’s right but choose to disobey God.
We see in Jonah’s life he was told to go to Nineveh, but instead of following what God had to say he sailed away neglecting what God called him to do. Our lack of action to what God tells us to do is sin.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.James 4:17
Sins of omission many times get passed over when we look at our own lives, disobedience is sin but many times we do not see it that way.
God has told us to love our neighbor throughout scripture, when we do not love our neighbor we are sinning.
When we commit sins of omission we are missing out on what God could do in our lives.
When we don’t help the orphans and widows as we are commanded in scripture we are disobeying God as well as missing out on what God could be doing in our lives.
A sin of commission is when you do something that you should not do. The very first sin of Adam and Eve was like this, they knew not to eat the fruit from the tree and ate it anyway.
God has given us laws to abide by.
Ultimately we do know what is right and what is wrong, God has put the law on our hearts.
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse themRomans 2:14-15
When we sin, we are without excuse.
Even those who were not Jewish and had not heard the ten commandments when God had given them, knew what was right and wrong because as humans it was in their nature given by God.
We cannot escape the consequences of sin.
Sin equals death, and even when we try to excuse what we have done wrong we are still deserving of the punishment.
Why It Matters
As we look at how sin is defined in the Bible, it can leave us realizing that we are a mess. We sin all the time as humans and there is nothing that we can do on our own to save ourselves.
Why does understanding what sin means matter? When we understand the definition of sin, we can then better understand its effect on our lives.
Only when we recognize that we sin often, and the consequence of sin is death can we realize that we need to be saved from the sin and death that came through Adam.
If we do not think we are in danger and think we are living comfortably with no consequences, then why would we want to seek after someone to save us?
When we understand that we are in a situation that we can do nothing about we will come to the Savior, knowing we are lost on our own.
Yes, we all have sinned, but there is hope because we have forgiveness and redemption through Christ.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23
When Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us he humbled himself and lived a perfect life that we could never live.
Jesus lived on earth serving others and never sinned. Jesus then died once and for all of our sins. Jesus then rose again defeating death and the hold that sin has on our life.
In the Old Testament, the priests would sacrifice to cover the sins of the people of Israel.
The sacrifices covered the sins of the people, but they did not solve the long-term problem, they still struggled with sinning and truly needed a new heart.
Jesus dying on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice as he was perfect, covering all sins. Our sins can be covered by Jesus’ blood, and we can be forgiven for all of our wrongdoings.
When Jesus rose from the grave he defeated sin and death. Although as Christians we still sin, we now have forgiveness and sin does not grip us, we are not slaves to sin, we have freedom in Christ.
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.Romans 6:6
We will also one day die, but we know that death is not final. Instead as Christians, we will be transformed, we have eternal life through Jesus Christ. Death is no longer final.
When Jesus ascended the Holy Spirit came to live in our lives, and as believers, this means that we have a defense against our sinful nature.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.John 14:26
The Holy Spirit works in us to become more like Christ, after Jesus rose from the dead he needed to ascend so that the Holy Spirit could work in all of us as believers to become more like him.
Our Response To Jesus’ Sacrifice
It is amazing the forgiveness and freedom we can have from sin through Jesus. We have a chance to respond to this message one way or another.
Those who are far from Christ are stuck in their sins, they cannot escape, and instead, they travel further down the path of sins.
When we become Christians we acknowledge who Jesus is and what he has done, we put our faith in him and confess our sins.
Forgiveness of our sins comes when we admit what we have done, and we are cleaned as described in Romans.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
Only through Jesus can we receive forgiveness of sins and can be saved from death, instead we are welcomed into eternal life.
Without Christ, forgiveness has no power it is only through our faith in Jesus and what he did on the cross.
Living on earth means that we will struggle with sin, and as Christians, it can be a spiritual battle.
Being a Christian also means that we do have help from the Holy Spirit and we are not fighting against our sinful nature alone.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.James 4:7
As Christians, we have an obligation as children of God to continually work against our sinful nature and instead aim to be more like Christ.
It is important to be aware of what sin is because we need to be prepared for our struggles with sin.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.Proverbs 28:13
When we confess our sins, and then turn away and not continue in them that is when we will become more like Christ, and as it says in this verse have mercy.
If we stay in the darkness with our sins that is when we will find ourselves stuck in sin, and our hearts hardened.
Through Jesus, we are saved from death to life. We can confess our sins to the Lord, knowing He will forgive us.