Saturday, July 9, 2011

What is Sin?

Have you ever asked this question?  If you have, you’ve probably gotten a lot of cryptic responses like “sin is ‘missing the mark’”, “sin is disobeying God”, “sin is all the bad things we do”, etc.  

While these answers are not wrong, I never felt like they adequately explained it.  So, I set out to find a solid answer for the question of what sin is. What’s the mark we’re missing?  What’s God want us to do that we’re not? How do we know what bad things are?

I somewhat foolishly started in Romans, where Paul complicates the matter even more with phrases like “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET."  (Romans 7:7

So, is sin breaking the Old Testament Law?  Jewish leaders spend years going over the Law and still can’t completely agree on everything in it and how it applies today.  And then there’s the whole “I do what I do not want to do, hoo do, di di do” tongue twister Paul lays out at the end of that chapter.  Yikes!

Bedraggled by the torrent of rhetoric that is Romans, I walked away even more bogged down by the question of sin.

Finally acknowledging that I couldn’t grasp it on my own, I prayed for help.  As I prayed, I looked up and saw the picture hanging above our front door.  It’s just a piece of paper we printed on our home computer with a couple of verses on it:

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)

On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the prophets (Matthew 22:40)

And it clicked.  If the law points out what sin is, and all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments, then sin at its base is not following these two commandments.

Sin is not loving God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  Sin is not loving your neighbor as yourself.  So simple: no one answers questions quite like Jesus does.


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I think what i've written in Intentions of the Heart also explains my own opinion about sin. I think only God knows what is truly a sin because I believe in the end our intention or the reasons behind the things that we do that matters.

Jesus said that it is not what you avoid that counts, it is what you do.

I try not to think about what I should not do that will make me a sinner but I rather think about what I can do to show Him my love.
I believe that if you concentrate more on loving Him, everything will just follow.

Stephen Phillip Porter said...

I'd agree with that, but showing someone you love them includes not doing things that would be unloving to them as much as doing things that are loving.

I guess if we could look at it as an active thing, like instead of inactively not lying, we actively tell the truth. Or instead of not murdering, we actively forgive, love, and pray for our enemies.

something like that.

D L McCarragher said...

Great post Stephen! The Law pointed out what was sinful and God clarified when His Son came to earth. Jesus fulfilled both the Law and the Prophets and now we must strive to live out the mandate of loving Him with all that is within us and loving others as ourselves. Simply put - love Him and tell (and show) them...

I've "followed" you as well. Thanks for sharing with others your love for God and His Word...

kemarias said...

Great post on sin.The Gospel tells us what should be done. It's up to us to do what God ask of us. Blessings. My blog is


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