What is Sin?

No one likes to admit they’re wrong, so it’s natural to diminish sin or make comparisons to others who "sin more." Learn what really matters about our sin.

What is Sin? Sin is a violation of God’s law. It literally means “missing the mark.” Sin includes doing what God forbids and failing to do what he commands. It is an act of rebellion and distrust. Sin rejects God’s authority over our lives.

Don’t Downplay the Commandments

No one likes to admit they’re wrong, so it’s natural to diminish sin. People hope by minimizing sin, we can also minimize the problem it creates in our relationship with God. It comes across when speaking of sin as mistakes, slip-ups, or blunders. Sometimes sin is rationalized: “Surely God must understand.” Other times distinctions are made based on intentions to claim ignorance as an excuse.

Step back and consider these actions from the perspective of someone you’ve offended. You wouldn’t say to your spouse, “At least I didn’t _____.” That doesn’t acknowledge true remorse. In fact, downplaying what you have done adds even greater injury to a relationship.

Another approach to minimizing sin is making different categories. This usually raises up sins like murder as a greater offense over breaking other commandments. Jesus challenged this thinking in the Pharisees of his day. He taught unkind words are equal to murder (Matthew 5:22). Unclean thoughts constitute adultery (Matthew 5:28). People differentiate sins based on the gravity of earthly consequences, but what ultimately matters is how God sees sin. Every sin is a great offense to God.

See Also: How Serious is Sin?

Still, others make comparisons. They reason, “At least I’m better than ­­­­­______.” Jesus taught about a Pharisee who went to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14). “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men….” God was not impressed. This Pharisee did not leave right with God. He tells us the only comparison to make is to him:

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Matthew 5:48, emphasis ours

Acknowledge the Problem

The first step toward resolving a problem is acknowledging it. This starts with a realization of how serious God sees breaking his commandments.

“Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

James 2:10

Imagine holding a crate of eggs, and you only trip once. The result is the same as if you tripped multiple times: you break them all. God is so serious about sin that breaking even just one of God’s commands warrants the same punishment as if you broke all of them.

But we haven’t just broken one. We’ve offended God far more than we realize (Psalm 19:2). Sin is prevalent. It includes ungodly attitudes like worry (Matthew 6:25) and a lack of contentment (Hebrews 13:5). Even good intentions are tainted with sin (Isaiah 64:6). No wonder the Bible says, “there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12).

Confess Your Sin

Sin creates division in our relationship with God. The problem is so great we could never fix it. Only God could.

So, he did.

He sent Jesus to take the punishment for sin we deserved. He won forgiveness for every sin.

Don’t downplay sin. Instead, be open with God about breaking his commandments. Put it all on the table. Then hand it over to the one who alone can remove your sin and its punishment.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:7

Rely on the forgiveness Jesus has already won and be assured of a restored relationship with God.


What does forgiveness really mean for your life?

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