What is Sin?

Many people do not know what sin is.If you ask 5 different people, you may get 5 different answers. Sin means different things to different people.

Even among Christian circles, sin is not well defined. This is due largely because of the lack of preaching about sin. Sin is not clearly defined from the pulpit, therefore sin is not clearly defined in society.

The Heart

Someone may say, sin is violating what you know is right in your heart. In other words, if you go against your heart, you sin. But that is not what the scriptures tell us.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” – Jeremiah 17:9

According to the scriptures, the heart of the unregenerate man is not a good source of wisdom.

Rejecting Messiah

Ask a radical evangelical, and you may get the answer, “Sin is rejecting Jesus”.

This is a pet cliché for a fundamental evangelical. It sounds so good, and “Christian”. But is it?

Although this is true in part, because it is a part truth it can easily lead to deception. Some people are led to believe that they can do whatever they want, as long as they accept Jesus, nothing they think, or do is sin. They think this because of the erroneous, or rather incomplete definition of sin “sin is rejecting Jesus”. Thus, this leads to great deception.

We have a great amount of scripture to glean from, but not one verse in the Bible explicitly says this. So why do we?

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that it’s OK to reject Messiah. All that I am saying is that we concoct our own little “pet clichés” that are not explicitly stated in the scriptures.

Falling Short of God’s Glory

Some Christians would say that sin is “falling short of God’s Glory”.

Once again, this sounds all fine and dandy. And indeed the phrase, “falling short of God’s Glory” is found in scripture. However, most people have no clue what that means. A lot of people add some sort of “magical” definition to that phrase.

Most people do not know what God’s glory is, let alone “falling short” thereof.

That is not to mention that this definition “falls short” of specificity. It does not give us a clear picture of what sin is. Nor does it give us a way to clearly define sin.

The True, Explicit Scriptural Definition of Sin

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. [1 John 3:4 KJV]

The answer is plain simple, sin is transgression of the Law.

Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him. [Numbers 15:31 ]
And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. [1 Samuel 15:24 ]
Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. [Daniel 9:11 ]

The Law of God defines Sin

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. [Romans 3:20 ]

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. [Romans 7:7 ]

Paul said that he would not know sin but by the Law. In other words, he would not know what sin is, unless he knew the Law.

We learn in Philippians, chapter 3 that Paul is a Pharisee, and a strict keeper of the Law. One must realize that being a Pharisee required a great knowledge of the Law. In fact, many Pharisees memorized the Law. Therefore, Paul would have had a thorough knowledge of the Law.

The problem is that most Christians today do not really know the Law. And since they do not know the Law, they do not really know what sin is. And if they do not know what sin is, then they do not know the full scope of the gospel.

What is the Law?

The law spoken of here is the Law of God, of course – aka The Torah. The Law of God is the Law that was given to us by the hands of Moses as written in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.


Defining sin is of utmost importance. We must not only have a more full understanding of the Law of God, but we must also have a more full application of the Law in order to define, and defeat sin.

Through the fog of Christian clichés we can see that he definition of sin is simple: violating the Law of God given by the hand of Moses.

To answer the question “Is this sin?”, we must turn to the Torah, the Law of God, as see what God says about it.

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