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!

Look For The Blessings

“IF YOU ARE DISTRESSED BY ANYTHING EXTERNAL, THE PAIN IS NOT DUE TO THE THING ITSELF, BUT TO YOUR ESTIMATE OF IT; AND THIS YOU HAVE THE POWER TO REVOKE AT ANY MOMENT.” – Marcus Aurelius


Count Your Blessings – A Great Story!

Two women who had been friends for years but had lost touch ran into each other while out shopping one day. In an effort to catch the other up on her life, one of the women said, “We were blessed with the fire in the attic last year. The fire didn’t destroy that much, but the water and smoke damage was extensive.”

“Why that’s terrible!” the other woman replied.

“Oh, no! It was a real blessing,” the first woman countered. “You see, the house had been in my husband’s family for years and was badly in need of renovation. The fire forced us into doing what we’d been putting off, and once all the repair work was done and we were able to move back in, it was just like moving into a brand new home.”

“Oh, I see. I guess that was a blessing after all,” the other woman agreed.

”A big one. Then another blessing came when my husband, Jack, tripped over some wire left by one of the contractors and broke his leg in three places.”

“Oh, come on now. How could that be a blessing?” the astonished friend asked.

“Because while we were at the hospital getting his leg set, a tornado came and blew the house away.”

“Oh, no!” the friend declared, and then a moment later added, “Okay, I understand you were spared, but losing your home like that, why that’s nothing short of tragic! I frankly don’t see where you find the blessing.”

“But that was the biggest blessing of all, you see, because after we cleared away the debris left by the storm, we found a small underground cellar where my husband’s grandfather had secretly kept an antique coin collection worth a sizeable fortune. We always knew there was a collection and that it was valuable, but until that tornado revealed it to us, no one ever knew where it was. Now we’re rich!”

As the story illustrates, even those experiences we deem calamitous can carry the seeds of a greater blessing. It is often only in retrospect, however, that the benefit reveals itself. And whether or not it reveals itself and how quickly it does so, is dependent upon only one thing: our own individual perspective. We determine whether something will be a blessing or a curse by the way we choose to see it.

Life is an ongoing process, and most of us meet something at almost every turn we wish were different. Just because something is not turning out the way we want, doesn’t mean it won’t.

While the story of the two women may sound far-fetched, we all know people who have suffered tremendous setbacks only to look back years later and declare the experience to have been a blessing.

Become a hunter of blessings, actively seeking them out in every experience and person you encounter. No matter how bad a situation or person might seem, say to yourself and mean it, “There’s a blessing in this, and I will find it!” Follow this regimen for a while and you may very well discover that you’ve poked a hole in every problem and sent every misery packing.

When the apostle James wrote to the members of the early Christian church that they should “count it all joy,” he had a good reason for doing so. He understood, as did Benjamin Franklin nearly 2000 years later, that life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it. And when you take life as a blessing, it tends to become one.


At this point someone might be asking, “How can staring death in the face be viewed as a blessing?”

That’s an excellent question!

Some might answer, “At least the pain and suffering will finally be gone.” And that is certainly true. However, it’s a very shallow and hollow answer when the reality of eternal death is ignored.

Christians, those who believe in and trust Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord of their lives, view death as the ultimate blessing because they know where their eternal destination will be:

“Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth; for the first Heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’

 And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ Then He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'” (Revelation 21:1-8)

We determine whether something will be a blessing or a curse by the way we choose to see it.

How do you see your eternal destination?

If you don’t like what you see, it may be time to make some serious changes now while you still can!


See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

 

How To Restore Civility To A Chaotic World

Cultural Decay

With every new day, we are witnessing growing tensions and turmoil in societies around the world. Foreign and domestic terrorism, school shootings, violence and unrest in our streets and on college campuses, drug addictions, broken families, crime, corruption, and religious persecution all seem to be escalating at warp speed.

In the books of Galatians and Ephesians, found in the Holy Bible, the Apostle Paul is writing to Christians with a message for Christians. Even so, it’s a message Christians and non-Christians alike can gain a great deal of wisdom from.

Choosing to reject the “acts of the flesh” Paul outlines below and committing to live by the “fruit of the Spirit”, the whole world might just become a much better and safer place to live.


Living by the Spirit vs. Living by the Flesh

In Galatians the Apostle Paul writes:

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:13-15)

“So I say, walk (live) by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galatians 5:16-17)

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery (wickedness); idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control . . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:22-26)

In Ephesians the Apostle Paul writes:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

Paul speaks of (4) virtues important to Christian living and the key in all four virtues is getting rid of something first:

1. Be humble (humility) – To have humility, we must renounce self-centeredness. Humility is a continual awareness of God, our own sinfulness and frailty, and of the equal value of all other persons.

2. Gentleness – To have gentleness, we must renounce harshness and violence. Gentleness conveys a sensitivity, a desire not to harm, and a valuing of the other person. Gentleness nurtures people, respects them, and allows them to drop defenses and deal more objectively with issues.

3. Patience – To have patience, we must renounce the oppression of our own agendas. Patience is that scale that values other people enough to give them room and time to fail, learn, and develop.

4. Tolerant love – To have tolerant love, we must renounce our rights. Insisting on one’s rights never leads to healthy relationships. Christians must be willing to forgo rights and practice tolerance with others, in love, who believe and think differently.


I believe these four virtues hold true for all people, not just Christians. However, if Christians are to take God’s Word (the Holy Bible) seriously then we have no choice but to commit to living as the Apostle Paul exhorts us to do.

Christian or not, it’s hard to argue with the Apostle Paul on the topic of living by the Spirit rather than living by the flesh!

It’s up to each of us to decide how we will walk, talk, and live. Both choices have consequences; some can be positive and some can certainly be negative.

Choose wisely grasshopper!

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See you next week for more Wisdom-Matters!