What Is Sin?
“All unrighteousness is sin . . .” (1 John 5:17).
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).
God created the earth and it was wonderful. The waves silently lapped in the rivers and seas. The sweet perfume of the flowers filled the air. The trees were laden with fruit, and the birds sang. Adam and Eve lived happily in the Garden of Eden. There was no evil on the earth. God made it possible for Adam and Eve to freely fellowship with Him and enjoy His presence. But . . .
One day something terrible happened! Adam and Eve sinned.
God is holy and cannot let sin go unpunished. For this reason Adam and Eve were driven from the wonderful paradise. Since Adam had been placed in dominion over the earth, his transgression also brought evil to the earth. God told Adam, “The ground is cursed for your sake.” From that time thistles and thorns started to grow in the fields and it became hard to work the ground. Worms began to ruin trees and fruit, and many animals became predators. People began to do all kinds of evil, and to become sick and die.
Why did all this happen? Why did the earth and people change so much? It was because man sinned. Sin separated mankind from God and made people very unhappy. Sin brought with it evil, jealousy, destruction, suffering, and death. Sin destroys people’s happiness and brings disorder into the whole world.
So what is sin?
Sin Is Disobedience to God
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners . . .” (Romans 5:19).
God placed Adam and Eve in a wonderful paradise. He allowed them to eat fruit from every tree in the Garden of Eden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God warned Adam that he would die if he ate the fruit from this tree. If Adam and Eve would have obeyed God, their happiness would have continued. But a tragedy happened.
Satan, who is evil, spoke to Eve through a serpent, the most subtle of the beasts of the field. Satan planted doubt in Eve’s mind; she began to question whether God really meant what He said. Finally she disobeyed God’s word by eating of the forbidden fruit. Eve took the fruit, ate it herself, and gave some to her husband.
Adam and Eve believed Satan’s word through the serpent, ignored God’s prohibition, and disobeyed Him. This first sin separated Adam and Eve from God, and because of their disobedience God drove them from the paradise in which they lived.
As people multiplied on the earth, God gave them His law, which was made of ten basic commandments or rules. God told people exactly how to obey Him. These ten basic commandments are below. Think about them—do you obey God’s commands, or not?
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honour thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
- Thou shalt not covet.
God commanded, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” If you do not obey and honor your parents, you are sinning.God said, “Thou shalt not steal.” If you take things that do not belong to you, you are sinning against God’s commandment.Look at one more of God’s commandments: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” In other words, do not lie and say the untruth about your neighbor.
Do you obey the commandments of God?
- What sin did Adam and Eve commit?
- Which of God’s commandments do you know?
Sin Is an Inherited Deathly “Disease”
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Because Adam and Eve sinned, all people have been born with a sinful nature. People have gone farther and farther from God, in deceiving, and hating, and killing each other.
Sin is passed from parents to children even in our day. Observe a small child. Even though the child cannot talk or walk, he gets angry and screams if he is not given something he wants. A child needs to be taught to sit, to walk, to eat with a spoon, and to listen to his mother and father. But no one needs to teach him to make trouble, to fight, and to lie. He can already do this!
Did you ever try living so you did not sin at all—no lies, jealousy, or stealing? If you have tried to live without sinning, you probably already know that it is not possible. Do you know why? It is because we are sinners. We were born into this world with a sinful nature and the tendency to sin. The evil deeds we do come from our evil, tainted hearts. Our inherited sinful nature inevitably leads us to death. It brings terrible torture to our soul. It takes away our peace, rest, and joy, and the opportunity to go to heaven and live eternally with God.
How can we be delivered from this terrible “disease” of sin? Is it even possible to have deliverance from sin?
- Why are all people born sinners?
- Do you see any sins in your life?
Sin Is a Burden
“For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Psalm 38:4).
Evil has the amazing capability of multiplying. One sin leads to another sin.
For example, as a child, you may have been warned not to take money from your mother’s purse without permission. But you wanted to buy something your parents did not allow, so you secretly took some money anyway. When your parents asked if anyone took money from Mother’s purse, you answered, “I didn’t.” Stealing led to disobedience in buying what was not allowed, and then to lying. The next time you were tempted to steal you may have taken a larger amount of money from someone’s pocket instead of Mother’s purse.
People of all ages have wanted to fix the problem of sin. They want to be free from deceivers, thieves, criminals, and all kinds of villains, but nothing has worked to cure the sin problem. Today there is no less sin in the world than there was a thousand years ago. Instead, lawlessness in the world today has grown even worse.
Sin can be compared to rocks a person collects and carries in a bag on his shoulder. Each sin committed is like adding a rock to the bag. Weeks, months, and years go by, with the burden of sin growing heavier and heavier. The unbearable load of sin makes the person unhappy, but he cannot get rid of his burden and be free. No matter where this person goes or what he does, the burden of sin is always with him, oppressing him and getting bigger.
- What capability does sin have?
- Why is sin compared to a heavy burden?
Sin Is a Hard Taskmaster
“Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34).
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
Sin never brings a person true happiness. In the beginning sin may seem attractive and harmless, but in the end sin always brings much suffering, bitterness, and even torture. It does not work to promise yourself, “That’s it. I am not going to sin anymore!” When a person begins to understand how sin works and tries to change his lifestyle and free himself from sin, he finds he cannot stop sinning. Sin is a very hard taskmaster!
Sin takes God’s rightful place in the heart of man and turns man into a pitiful, tortured slave. Do you ever find yourself doing things you do not want to do? You do not want to deceive, but your tongue tells lies, and it seems impossible to change your ways. You do not want to become irritated, but again and again you find yourself yelling at your children, your wife, or your co-workers about trivial things. You resolve you will not smoke or swear, and shortly thereafter you break your promise. You know it is very wrong, but you cannot do anything about it. It is as if someone is forcing you to insult others, lie, speak foolishly, become angry, and curse everyone and everything. This happens because sin is controlling you.
Sin is a hard taskmaster, and no one can free themselves from the slavery of sin. Sin dictates a person’s life and makes him do things against the will of God.
- What makes us sin?
- Can a person stop sinning by himself?
Sin Is Our Accuser
“For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them” (Isaiah 59:12).
The Creator made mankind in such a way that when we do something wrong, we feel guilty. The knowledge of guilt fills our soul with bitterness and fear. It can even bring a person to depression. The feeling of guilt becomes especially depressing when what was done can no longer be corrected.
For example, unfaithfulness to your wife (or husband) is wrong, but perhaps you failed to stand in the hour of temptation. No matter how hard you try to erase the failure from your memory, tear it out of your heart, or justify your sin, you suffer pangs of guilt and the implacable condemnation of your conscience. In order to avoid eternal punishment, you must recognize your sin of adultery and repent of it before God.
Sin always separates us from God, and we cannot avoid responsibility for what has been done. By God’s law, sin must be punished, and the punishment for sin is death. Everything is open before God, and He knows everything about us. We cannot deceive Him.
Sin does not disappear with time. We can drown out our conscience and forget about sins, but on the Judgment Day when God requires a report for all we have done, our sins will be there charging us with rebellion against God. The sentence for sinners has been established. God said the punishment for sin is death—in other words, eternal destruction.
- What will your sins do for you in the day of judgment?
- What kind of punishment do our sins require?