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What is sin and what does the Bible say about it?

Mortal Sin and a Venial Sin
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What is sin and what does the Bible say about it? Find out what the scripture says about sin in this article.
 
The original (etymological) meaning of the word sin is “missing the mark.” This means that when we sin we miss or deviate from what would have been the right thing to do.

We can all remember times when we have said or done something wrong, something that we later regretted. But when the Bible talks about sin, it talks about something deeper than that, something that has eternal consequences.

How does the Bible define sin?

The concept of sin in the Bible refers to breaking or transgressing God’s law. In 1 John 3:4 we read:

John 3:4

From the beginning, God has been clear about what we can and cannot do (Genesis 2:16-17). In the Bible, which is the Word of God, we find explicit laws such as the Ten Commandments. God has given those laws for our benefit. 

These help us to act correctly before him and others, and at the same time protect us from making mistakes that can bring us terrible consequences not only in our day to day but for eternity.

When we disobey God by ignoring his law, we do so (consciously or unconsciously) guided by a rebellious attitude. The basis of sin is found in rebellion against God and his commands from him. The rebellious heart is actually a proud one. He wants to prove that he knows more than God, that he can solve things his way and by his own strength.

And it is precisely like this, with that attitude of rebellion, that it all began…

How did sin enter the world?

When God created man, he placed him in the Garden of Eden and commissioned him to cultivate and care for it. However, he gave her a very clear order:

Genesis 2:16b-17

The man could eat from all the trees in the Garden of Eden except one: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And it was precisely this prohibition that the serpent (the devil) used to tempt men and women. We find the account in Genesis 3:1-5.

The snake was more cunning than all the animals of the field that the Lord God had made, so he asked the woman, “Is it true that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”
“We can eat the fruit of all trees,” answered the woman. But, regarding the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, God has told us: “Do not eat from that tree, nor touch it; otherwise they will die.”
But the snake told the woman: “It’s not true, they’re not going to die!” God knows very well that when they eat from that tree, their eyes will be opened and they will become like God, knowing good and evil.
(Genesis 3:1-5)

Here we clearly see the way the devil has worked from the beginning in his attempt to deceive human beings. First, he spoke alone with Eva. He waited for a moment when Adam was not present and took advantage of a moment of apparent vulnerability. Then we see that he acted with cunning, with knowledge, created doubts and appealed to the desire for power and greatness.

  • Cunningly: The snake was skilful at deceiving with caution and finesse. He begins with a question to which she already knew the answer. He talks to Eva as if they were friends talking about something routine.
  • With knowledge: The snake knew God’s prohibition and the consequences that disobedience would bring. He had been well informed and presented his argument misleadingly but firmly.
  • It created doubt in Eve’s heart and basically called God a liar. He deceived her by misrepresenting the meaning of the word death. He did not explain that disobedience would result in spiritual death, the separation between man and God.
  • He appealed to the desire for power and greatness that was in Eva’s heart. She told him, “You will become like God, knowing good and evil.”

Sadly, first Eve and then Adam chose to disobey God and listen to the serpent (the devil). This act marked the breaking of the special friendship they had enjoyed with God up to that point. The man gave in to his ambition to be like God, thus belittling the very special relationship he had enjoyed until then.

What does that mean for us? That act of disobedience opened the door for sin to become a part of our lives. Since then, we have all been born with the tendency to disobey or do wrong before God.

We can always choose and we must, but that tendency is now part of our natural impulse. We are not born with the guilt of Adam and Eve’s sin, but with a natural inclination to disobey God’s commands. The Bible calls this tendency our sinful nature (Romans 8).

God hates sin because it creates a barrier of separation between him and us and separates us from his will.

The hand of the Lord is not short to save, nor is his ear deaf to hear. It is your iniquities that separate you from your God. It is these sins that lead him to hide his face from him so as not to listen.
(Isaiah 59:1-2)

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What is the solution?

So what happens? Is there a solution for us? Of course, there is! Jesus! As soon as man sinned, God began to lay out the plan for his redemption.

Romans 5:12 says:

“Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin death entered; This is how death happened to all humanity, because all sinned.
(Romans 5:12)

But then in Romans 5:15 comes the good news about the Heavenly Father’s solution: His infinite grace manifested through Jesus!

Romans 5:15

The gift or gift of God to us is his grace. And this revealed through Jesus, is much greater and has much more power than sin. Jesus, God incarnate, came into the world so that we can all have the opportunity to receive forgiveness for our sins. He was willing to die on the cross and bear our sins so that through his sacrifice we can have eternal life.

What do we have to do in order to have the certainty of his forgiveness and eternal life? We just need to accept Jesus’ sacrifice as valid for us by asking him for forgiveness for our sins and acknowledging him as our Lord and Savior. He already obtained eternal life for us. We just need to appropriate that gift by accepting that God comes to be King and Lord of our lives.

This is the word of faith that we preach: that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Romans 10:8b-9)

 

6 biblical quotes about sin

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8)

Romans 3:23-24

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but by his grace they are freely justified through the redemption that Christ Jesus accomplished.

1 John 1:8-9

If we claim that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and do not have the truth. If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:8-9)

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, while the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23)

John 3:17

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save it through him.
(John 3:17)

1 Peter 1:18-19

As you well know, you were rescued from the absurd life that you inherited from your ancestors. The price of his ransom was not paid with perishable things, such as gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot and without blemish.
(1 Peter 1:18-19)

Thank you, Lord, for the forgiveness of our sins!