What Is Sin?

The Bible teaches that all of life is to be lived to glorify our Sovereign Creator. There is a moral order to all of creation, and violations of that order only lead to adverse consequences!

A famous contemporary movie star was once asked in an interview, “What is sin?” I should have cut out the article, but I did jot down the response: “I don’t even know what’s considered a sin anymore, nothing feels like a sin!”

In the Bible, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you do eat of it you shall surely die.’” (Genesis 2:16,17)

At the very moment when Adam and Even took a bite of that forbidden fruit, sin and death were introduced into the perfect world God had created for them! Consequently, they were banished from Eden by a Holy God who cannot and does not tolerate disobedience to His commands and principles. Plain and simple, this is God’s definition of SIN whether we like it and agree with it or not!


How To Live a Life Pleasing To God:

Since I believe God’s Word is absolute and infallible truth, let’s start with a refresher course of the Ten Commandments,

(Exodus 20:3-17):

  1. “You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

So, if like the movie star, you too don’t know what a sin is any more or nothing feels like a sin to you, the Ten Commandments are a good starting place.

However, there are some grey areas in life where it’s not as easy to discern sin from activities that are just controversial or poor decisions. I’ve come up with a list of mostly familiar topics we find people dealing with or engaging in today that are Biblically defined as sin or can lead to sin.

It’s also important to understand that no sin is worse than any other in God’s eyes.  Your sins and my sins may be very different, however, all sin is equal on God’s scale of justice and worthy of death! “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23a)

I sincerely realize some of the information below will be provocative and even anger some readers. I have tried to keep my personal comments to a minimum and let God’s Word speak for itself. I’m just the messenger, so let’s take a look at this list from A to Z:

Abortion: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Anything growing is ALIVE! Man-made laws legalizing murder of the unborn at any age is an abomination in God’s eyes! This sin ushers in a myriad of consequences on those deciding to have the abortion, to those who market and perform abortions, and to nations and governments who make despicable laws legalizing abortion.

Addiction: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). When a habit begins to consume one’s thoughts and actions, and then gives way to dependency, it has become a god in one’s life. The consequences of addictions are many. From job loss, fractured families, costly rehab and recovery expenses, to all sorts of criminal activities, jail time, and even death.

Adultery:You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). The consequences of extramarital relationships range from broken marriages and families to domestic abuse and violence leading to jail time and sometimes even death.

Anger: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger” (Ephesians 4:31a). Controlled anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can lead to positive outcomes. Getting angry at the way certain people groups are treated and doing something for positive change is a good thing. But when anger spirals out of control, the consequences can lead to mental and physical abuse of others, violence, and even death.

Anxiety: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7). Anxiety grows when we don’t have peace with the circumstances we find ourselves in, or with the decisions we’ve made or need to make. We all want to feel like we are in control of our lives, but when things start spinning out of control, anxiety and stress can grow to unhealthy levels and work against us. God wants us to place our trust in Him and His ability to know what’s best for us. Without a belief and trust in Him to do His part, we are left to our own devices.

Bestiality: “Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile (ruin-my insert) yourself with it” (Leviticus 18:23a). You can decide for yourself what the consequences of this sin may be!

Bi-sexuality: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body” (1Corinthians 6:18) “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another” (Romans 1:24). Needless to say, sex with multiple partners can bring on all sorts of unforeseen consequences!

Bitterness: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger” (Ephesians 4:31a). See Anger.

Cheating: “skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales” (Amos 8:5b). “Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong” (1Corinthians 6:8a). Cheating can bring on all kinds of consequences and tarnish one’s reputation in irreparable ways!

Covetousness: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17). Being content with what you have will bring peace to your soul. Discontentment breeds needless anxiety and stress, as well as other possible consequences.

Debt: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” (Romans 13:8a). All debt must be repaid. Filing bankruptcy to avoid repaying a debt does not excuse your responsibility. You have sinned against your debtor. “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15).

Deceit: “Do not deceive one another” (Leviticus 19:11b). “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:…a heart that devises wicked schemes” (Proverbs 6:16,18).

Divorce: Jesus replied, I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). This sinful act leads to broken marriages, broken families, and psychological issues arising from trying to cope with feelings of abandonment. There are many other emotional issues that can arise from this one sinful act including anger, rage, bitterness, stress, and anxiety. All these emotions, if not properly controlled, can also lead to a myriad of other sins.

Fornication: A sexual act between unmarried individuals is known as fornication. “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery (wickedness)” (Galatians 5:19).

Greed: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:…evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5b,6). “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5).

Hate: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” (1Thessalonians 5:15). Hating what is evil or wrong in the world can lead to positive change if addressed properly with love. However, when hate burns uncontrolled and then turns into violent acts and death, we have crossed the line into sin.

Homosexuality: “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable” (Leviticus 18:22). “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable” (Leviticus 20:13). “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:24-28).

Idolatry: You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Exodus 20:4). “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5,6). Anything or anyone we worship or elevate above the God who created the universe and all that is in it and on it is idolatry. Consequences are sure to follow!

Incest: A sexual act between family members is known as incest. “If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They are to be publicly removed from their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible. Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible” (Leviticus 20:17,19).

Kidnapping: “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). Criminal acts bring obvious consequences.

Lust: Jesus said, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27,28). See Adultry. Jesus is saying here that even our evil thoughts are sins in God’s eyes! It is wisdom to assume that if we don’t let our thoughts get out of control, then there’s a very good chance our actions won’t either.

Lying: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). “The LORD detests lying lips” (Proverbs 12:22a). “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:…a lying tongue, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16,17b,19).

Murder: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13).

Pedophilia: A similar sin to “lust” where evil sexual thoughts of children can lead to evil activities. “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). God does not take lightly the abuse of children!

Pornography: Jesus said, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27,28). See Lust and Adultery.

Profanity: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7). “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these:…filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).

Rage: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger” (Ephesians 4:31a). See Anger.

Stealing: “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15).

Terrorism: You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Regardless of one’s reasons for maiming and murdering innocent men, women, and children it is still sin in the eyes of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and severe consequences are sure to follow.

Transgenders: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:20,21). There should be no argument or confusion concerning one’s birth gender! When we attempt to play God and make changes to the way He has created us, we are asking for consequences to follow.

There are some additional activities and issues we may face in life that fall into that grey area. Biblically speaking, they are either not considered outright sins or not specifically talked about in the Bible. Only when we have made any of them a god or idol in our lives do they cross over into the sin category. Also, we can fall into sin when any of these bring us to a place where we are mentally or physically hurting ourselves or others. These grey areas include:

Bullying, Complacency, Conceit, Criticism, Depression, Discontentment, Drinking alcoholic beverages, Drugs (legal & illegal), Ego, Envy, Fear, Frustration, Gambling, Guilt, Hoarding, Intolerance, Judgmentalness, Laziness, Narcissism, Obesity, Physical Abuse, Prejudice, Pride, Procrastination, Racism, Selfishness, Self-righteousness, Sleeping, Smoking, Sodomy, Unforgiveness, Vanity, Verbal Abuse, Work


This is not an exhaustive list, but I hope you get the point! God does not tolerate sin. And when we sin, there are painful consequences of varying kinds and magnitudes that God will either rain down on us or allow us to wallow in for a time at His discretion. This may sound harsh, but He’s God and we’re not!

What IN The World Is Wrong With This World? The sin IN you and me!

Unless there is a real heart and mind change, brought on by a new life in Jesus Christ, nothing morally and ethically will change in people’s lives, in our nation, or in the world, and the days will continue becoming darker for greater evil to prevail.

Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny!

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

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