Q. What is sin?
A. Sin is disobeying or not conforming to God’s law in any way.
Sin is a word that is used a lot in our churches. “That is sin,” we tell people. Or, “Don’t do that—its sinful.” Sin is failure to conform ourselves to God’s law, or simply put, it is disobeying God.
We like to tell the children at church that sin is anything we think, say, or do that makes God unhappy. I know the thought of an unhappy God is unpopular these days, but it is true. Do you think sin makes God happy? Do you think He is neutral toward sin? That only leaves one alternative.
Both Testaments are peppered with verses that refer to or allude to God’s wrath toward sin. The Old Testament recounts stories of God’s wrath on display toward the complaining and idolatry of Israel; the New Testament tells us “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness (sin)…(Romans 1:18).”
God loves us, but He hates sin.
There are two ways we can sin: we can either commit an act (commission) or fail to commit an act (omission). I Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from fornication.” According to this verse, fornication is a sinful act that we commit, either in our minds or with our bodies.
But failure to do something we know to be right is also sin. James 4:17 tells us, “To him that knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” When we choose not to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), choose to not to meet a need when we have the means (I John 3:17), or choose to rob God by withholding our tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8), we are sinning by omission.
Sin is a part of our human nature that has been here since the curse. We will not achieve sinless perfect while on earth, but that should not keep us from trying to sin as little as possible.
What shall we say then? Should we go on sinning so that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who have died to sin live any longer in it?