What is sin?
It is the glory of God not honored.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savored.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved.
That is sin. ~ John Piper.
To some people sin is a myth. To others, it is an old and backward idea that needs to be outgrown in the 21st century. Our politically-correct, modern culture is quick to call sin a mistake or a choice or even a preference! Those of the world do not want to be convicted of sin — that weight is too burdening to their consciences. Thus, to them the big sin is in calling sin by its name! If we do not get our definition of sin from the Bible, which is God’s inerrant word, we will fail to grasp how deep and wide the influence of sin really is in us. As Christians therefore, we have to remain vigilant in identifying, understanding and describing sin as it is presented to us in the Scriptures — especially our own sin. Believer, it is your responsibility to study sin because “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” But, how should we describe sin?
Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4):
Sin is transgression of the law, it is missing the exact mark, it is falling short of the perfect standard — without the law there is no sin, for there can be no breaking/abusing of a non-existent law. The law is a decree or a command or a will of the lawgiver — it shows, clearly, what pleases or displeases the legislator. In addition, the law cannot exist without the lawmaker — it flows from the lawgiver’s nature and heart. The moral law displays the nature of God — He is holy, righteous, just, gracious, loving, faithful, orderly, wise. To sin is to deny these truths about God — sin is opposition to God. The sinner, consequently, is anti-law and is, really, an enemy of God!
Sin is treason:
To sin, therefore, is to directly attack and resist the law giver — it is to rebel. Sinning demonstrates that you reject God has authority over you. God has commanded and it is our duty to obey. However, mankind has a particular love for disobedience — it is no wonder children have to be corrected and chastised even after multiple warnings. People easily excuse themselves that they have not committed some explicit wickedness — but God’s word is clear, “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17). Naturally, in our hearts, we want to be free from rules and laws, free from God’s commands, free from God — and consequently, we want to be our own gods. This is a high crime, before God’s sight. Sin, biblically, is a great offense to the thrice-holy God!
Sin is wickedness:
Whether you have said a small lie or robbed a bank, the bottom line is that you have despised God’s law — you have sinned. Sin, no matter small it seems, is utterly wicked, that is, ungodly. Sin rushes to pervert good and perform evil — all who commit sin prove that they hate God. In Revelation 21:8, the liar and the murderer end up together in the Lake of Fire. This is to show us that there will be no distinction between the “little white liar” and the “serial murderer” — God hates both. We were made in God’s image so that we may be like Him. Whenever we are unlike God, we prove the power of sin’s wickedness over our lives.
Sin is a reality:
Imagine with me for a moment. Without sin, what bliss Adam would be enjoying till now; what a wonder Samson would still be; how glad Moses would have been to taste the milk and honey of Canaan; what heights of wisdom Solomon would have scaled; how blessed the tribes of Israel would still be today; how glad the Jews would have been to have the great Messiah walk amongst them; how different our lives would be — glorified lives! But, in this world, that’s just imagination — it’s unrealistic. The reality is, sin is with us. Because of sin, Adam the sinless fell from grace and lost a perfect estate, Samson the strong lost his strength, then his eyes and finally his life, Moses the meek became impatient, burst out in anger and lost a very dear hope, Solomon the wise fell into idolatry and multiplied wives more than we change clothes, Israel the elect fell into idolatry so many times, was eventually given into bondage in exile and finally killed the Messiah. What of you — in what ways can you identify the reality of sin? Dear reader, sin is much nearer than you think — because of it, you may lose your only soul. You are, naturally, a sinner.
Sin is contrary to Christianity because it is satanic:
When a Christian sins it is worse than when an unbeliever sins — for “the eyes of our hearts have been enlightened”; God has revealed Himself to us and granted us the privilege of partaking of His divine nature. O, Christian, will you look at the Lord Who was crucified at Calvary when He carried all your sin and its great power, that crippling burden? Will you despise your Christ and forget His sacrificial work for you? Will you conspire against the Trinity to do that which you very well know will displease the one God? O, Christian — feel the shame. Flee from seductive sin. 1 John 3:8-10 makes it clear that sin is satanic “for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.“
Sin is invisible:
Sin may be unseen but its effect, influence and consequences are visible/tangible. You can be as sure as you have a skeleton in you even though you do not see it, sin is in you though you do not see it — but it’s within! For instance, when you steal, you rob another person of a good or a dear thing that belongs to them. When you lie, you alter facts which may lead to someone changing their mind about you and suffer as your victim. Adulterers and rapists change the lives of their victims for a lifetime; abusive drunkards scar their families for a long time, even for life; Look at the corruption in Kenya — things are done in the dark, but the effects cannot be hidden. Greatest amongst the effects of sin was that men ganged up to crucify the Son of God — whatever was bubbling in the secret part of their hearts was made clear in its effects at the Lord’s crucifixion.
Sin is an oppressive burden:
No one can perform sin in true freedom. A thief is always burdened in conscience lest he get caught enjoying the very thing he stole to enjoy. A murderer is always on the lookout to see if the police will finally track him down. The adulterer is always taking calculated and careful steps just to ensure he is not caught in the act. A liar is always fabricating new lies just to cover up the first lie. John 3:19-20 tells us that people “loved the darkness rather than the light BECAUSE their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.“
Sin is too expensive:
How many people have drunk their wealth into oblivion — simply because they could not control their appetites for wine and liquor? How many have lost respect; a good name, which is hard to keep, since they were caught in the arms of another man’s wife? How much money is lost by entire governments in the name of bribery, greed and other forms of corruption? But it does not stop there — sin is more expensive than that. It pretends to be cheap until you buy it with your own soul. What does it profit any man to gain the whole wide world, which is quickly passing away, but lose his only soul in hell? “For what can a man give in return for his soul” (Mark 8:36-37) — a thing which cannot pass away? People, by sinning, secure their own title deeds in hell by selling their portions of heaven! Sin is not cheap — it will give you worthless vanity but cost you everything precious.
Sin is unreasonable:
Hence, we also see that sin is absurd. By this, we mean that it is unreasonable for anyone to expect true gain from such a heavy loss. Addiction can cause you to do things you never thought any other man could do — just to feed your own lusts. What unreasonable acts have men done who have murdered others, violated others, insulted others, envied others, stolen from others, lied to others? Even more, your own sin can make you do these very things to yourself — sin will turn you against yourself! Friend, do you not see how irrational sin can easily make you? It makes us play the part of a fool — ignorant and mad! (Proverbs 19:1-3).
Sin is a mighty jailer:
Sin’s seduction is that it promises happiness and satisfaction to the flesh. However, sin never shows its true consequences until a person has sinned. No one has committed sin and not fallen, that is, become its slave/prisoner — starting with Satan himself. He was an angel; a darling of heaven ever in the presence of the Almighty God, but sin was found in him and has never been taken away from him! In John 8:34, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” Along with Satan, this is the condition of all those whose sins have not been taken away by Jesus Christ — their sin tightly latches on to them. Furthermore, it carries an eternity of consequences with it. We are afraid of getting caught in sin when we are committing it — but the guilt still lingers on after we sin, and it never goes away. Time never heals a guilty conscience — the heavy stain remains till death and the final judgment. Truly, unless the blood of Jesus washes the stain of your sin, even the fires of hell will not be strong enough to purify you for all eternity.
Sin is a disease:
Sin is the greatest disease known to man. Actually, all diseases have their source and power in sin — even death itself. Even believers are not exempted from the presence of this powerful disease, even though its power has been defeated in our lives. It is clear that as Jesus went healing people, He told them that their sins were forgiven — to signify that He came to primarily heal us of a greater disease than our physical sickness. If the great Physician does not heal you of this mighty disease, you will surely die! It is only the Christian who can gladly say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases.” (Psalm 103:2-3).
Sin is universal:
Romans 5:12 says, “sin came into the world through one man”, that is, through our common father, Adam. No human being has escaped it. No ethnic tribe has been so morally pure — we only have a history of wars and men enslaving fellow men. No nation can call itself the perfect model for the world — because every nation is made up of only sinners. Sin destroyed two races — angels and humans. Sin is expressed by men, women, and even “innocent” infants. Even more, sin has invaded all the faculties of humankind — the heart, the will, the mind, the whole soul and body. No one can say he or she is without sin. O, what a waste sin leaves of the whole world!
Dear reader, I have attempted to show you (and not in an exhaustive manner) what sin is. Do you recognize it in the world around you — even more do you see it in you? Do you seek out your own sin to kill it no matter the trouble you have to go through to find it out in your own dark heart? Do you understand what sin will do to you if you let it live within you? There is no negotiating with sin — sin knows only how to destroy your life. Sin will not leave you until you kill it or flee from it. It is better to suffer a little for denouncing your sin than to suffer for ever for indulging in it. As it has been said before, kill sin or sin will kill you. Do not be stiff-necked and stubborn. Repent — turn around from sin and make haste toward God, the only Savior from sin.