What is Sin?

Today we will talk about a topic that will help us answer a serious question.  The topic is sin, and the question is “What is sin?”  We can find many answers to this question today.  Did you know in some religious circles, people teach that we can never be freed from sin?  They call every error of judgment or every human weakness sin.  Then others may teach that sin is what they might call gross errors like murder, adultery, and stealing.  They might even excuse what we call the lesser sins, such as lying or stealing a little.  Because of these different opinions, people are generally confused about what constitutes sin and what God calls sin.  Therefore, I feel we need to spend a little time on this topic to understand what exactly sin is?  But first, let’s quickly cover what sin is not.

Sin is not just a mistake, and in past lessons, we’ve learned that temptation is not a sin.  Let’s see what 1John teaches us about this serious topic.

1John 3:4

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

We can learn from this scripture that sin is a transgression of the law.  But the Bible is not talking about Brother Ross’s law.  This scripture refers to what we would call the divine law or God’s law.  We’ve found in the past that men have created rules they wanted to call sin, but these things weren’t in the Bible as sin.  So men made up their own laws.  But today, we’re learning that sin is a transgression against God’s divine law.  Let’s continue to define this topic of sin.

James 4:17

“17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

The critical question here is, what is God’s definition of sin?  In 1John 3:4, we found sin defined as a transgression of God’s divine law.   In James, sin is also defined as not doing what we know we should do.  For example, if I know, I should tell the truth on a matter and do not, that would be a sin.  The Bible also teaches that all have sinned.  This statement means all of us were at one time a sinner.

Romans 3:23

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

I encourage you to read this story because it is an important part of where sin came from.  Going all the way back to Genesis Chapter 2, we can find the story of Adam and Eve, the first two humans God created.  God set the two in a beautiful garden, and when He came down to walk and talk with Adam and Eve, He gave them direction, meaning God told them what He expected them to do.  God also gave them one command telling them what He didn’t want them doing.  But Adam and Eve were tempted, and instead of refusing the temptation and holding fast to what God told them not to do, they gave in.  We find here again that the temptation was not a sin.  But Adam and Eve’s intentional action to do something that went against the will of God– that was the sin.  Their action wasn’t a mistake.  Adam and Eve fully understood what they were doing.  They made a decision to do it, and they partook of something that God told them not to.  The Bible tells us after they did, Adam and Eve instantly knew they sinned against God.   That’s why I know sin is not a mistake, young people.  Sin is a willful transaction, meaning you make a willful decision to go against God’s divine law.  So we see from the time Adam and Eve sinned against God, this process began; men were born in sin and continued to sin.

Genesis 2:15-17

“15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Genesis 3:1-6

“3 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

Genesis 3:24

“24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

The world become so infiltrated by mans’ sin and wicked ways that God repented of making man and at times wanted to destroy the earth.  In the book of Genesis, the Bible teaches us that God did destroy the world once.  Of all the people in the world, He could find only one family that loved and worshiped Him.  The family belonged to a man named Noah.  He was a man who was pure and upright in the eyes of God.  God caused it to rain for many days and all of humanity was wiped out by floodwaters.  All except Noah’s family.

After the flood, a new group of people came to be and their hearts were turned toward God and His ways.  The Bible calls them the children of Israel.  Although the children of Israel loved God, He still had to give them laws or rules to abide by.  In the book of Exodus, we can find that God gave the children of Israel the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments are what we would call one of the first divine laws in the Bible.  ” Thou shalt have no other God’s before me.”  is God’s first commandment.  In those days, idol worship was common, and the people believed in and worshiped idols or images.  So God gave them the law and said, “I don’t want you to worship any other God’s but me.”

Exodus 20:3-5

“3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”

And then we find, God, said, “Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain!”

Exodus 20:7

“7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

Then God tells His children, “Honor thy father and thy mother.”  This law is for you to remember young people.

Exodus 20:12

12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

Then God told them not to kill, commit adultery, steal, or bear false witness against their neighbors, and do not covet anything anyone else had!

Exodus 20:13-17

“3 Thou shalt not kill.

14 Thou shalt not commit Adultery.

15 Thou shalt not steal.

16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”

These are the Ten Commandments. God’s divine law that He gave to the children of Israel.  But there was a problem in man that continued down through time.  Sin kept coming back, and people kept going against God’s law.  We find in the Old Testament, the children of Israel had to keep offering sacrifices to help with the sin issue.  They didn’t really have power over sin.  They could hold back for a while or do good for a time, but sin kept creeping back into peoples’ lives.  I want to praise the Lord that sin is why God sent His wonderful Son to this earth.  Because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  But praise God, the wonderful Son of God was sent down to us so that He could solve the sin problem in man.  We can live without sin!

Hebrews 9:28

“28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

So Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was offered as a sacrifice to bear our sins.  I can proclaim to you today that if you turn your life to Jesus, you can be without sin unto Salvation.  That’s the beauty of the Salvation message.  All of us are born in sin, but we can be freed from sin today!  I want to encourage each one to read the word of God.  Know what God calls sin so we can stay away from it.  Because even as God’s children, the devil is endeavoring to tempt us to turn back to sin.  So we need to know what sin is so we can be prepared to look at it,  see it,  and make that decision to serve God.  I want us to read another scripture that shares with us what God declares as sin.

Galatians 5:19-21

“19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,

20 Idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousy, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,

21 Envy, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and the like: of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in the time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Apostle was preaching to people who turned their lives to God.  He wanted to make them aware of the things that could separate them from God.  That’s why the Apostle gave them a list.  He wanted to help God’s people understand that God demands we stay away from certain things.  I can share with you multiple areas in the Bible where we can find lists describing behaviors God calls sin.

Ephesians 5: 5

“5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

This is Paul preaching to the Ephesians and saying, “Look, there are some things you need to stay away from.”  Let’s read another list in 2Timothy.

2Timothy 3:1-4

“1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;”

We’ve read scriptures in three different areas, including the Ten Commandments, where there are lists of behaviors and other things that God calls sin. Many other scriptures in the Bible have similar lists noting behaviors God is challenging us to stay away from.

Today, we’ve gone over a few things that answer the question, what is sin?  In a nutshell, sin is a transgression against God’s law.  You see, once again, sin is not something that brother Ross makes up.  I can’t tell you that you can’t do something just because it’s what I wouldn’t do.  Sin is something that constitutes breaking the divine law of God.  How do we know what the divine law of God is?  By reading it in His word!  That’s why God gave this wonderful book to us.  We can read through it and learn how to serve Him.  Let’s end by going back to 1John 3:


1John 3:4-

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

But I love verse 5:

1John 3:5

“5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”

Thank God!

1John 3:6

“6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.”

So we see this morning, young people, that sin is something each of us started with.  We’ve read what the Bible calls sin, and we’ve heard all these things before.  If we keep sinning today after hearing this lesson, we are willfully transgressing the law of God.  But praise God today if we give our hearts to Him, He is manifested, and He is the one that can take away our sins.  If we abide in Him this morning, young person, we don’t have to sin anymore.  That means we now have power over sin!  So today, I want to challenge you to give your heart to God and abide in Him.