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What Is Sin?

By Justin Johnson

According to 1 John 3:4, sin is the transgression of God’s law. Throughout history, and in every dispensation, God has always commanded that we obey the distinct instructions he has given about his purpose. To Israel under the law, Deuteronomy 12:32 says, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” When man rebels in disobedience to God’s commands, then we have transgressed God’s righteous instructions and committed a sin.

The Bible says that God is “a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4). “In Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). This makes God perfectly righteous, and all those that fall short of his glory are not righteous. By looking at God’s standard of righteousness, the Law, we can quickly see that we do not measure up. The Bible says, ‘for we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23).

Our sin and disobedience is a product of the evil state of our heart and will in rebellion against God. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked’ (Jeremiah 17:9). Sin entered the world through one man, Adam, the head of the human race.

“For as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” – Romans 5:12

We inherit the sinful nature of our fathers who likewise inherited it from Adam, by whom sinned entered the world. For this reason we all have sinned. In other words, we sin because we are sinners. We commit sins because we have sin in our nature and choose to live accordingly. [Genesis 3 tells the story of how sin first entered humankind.]

Yet, God in his justice will not let disobedience go unpunished. Just as death entered the world by sin, necessary judgment also will come upon man for his disobedience. God tells us that after we die, we will face judgment:

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” – Hebrews 9:27

Those who are found unrighteous and guilty will face the wrath of God, while those who are righteous will be granted eternal life and peace. Yet, we have established before that we are all sinners.

To obey God’s purpose today is to be saved from the wrath of God. Salvation is the purpose that God sent his Son, Jesus, who knew no sin, to take the punishment for our sin on the cross. When he died as a propitiation, God’s justice was satisfied, and righteousness is given to all those that believe.

Sin is rebellion and disobedience against God. We are made in iniquity through the inherited sin of our fathers, just as David writes, “I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). We are all in need of a savior or else we will face a fierce sentence for our disobedience against God.

Read more about salvation here.

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Published: September 21, 2009
Last Modified: July 1, 2016
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