Romans 6:6-11, We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
When the average person hears the word “sin” what do they think it means? It’s essential that we understand what the word means if we would use it. So, sin is murder, rape, robbery, sexual immorality, and such like. The truth is sin is much more than that short list I just read. A good definition of the term is, “Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in action, attitude or nature.” Sin is not just stealing or lying sin is also about attitudes that are different from God’s attitude.
Those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ have brought their sin to the foot of the cross. More than that! Believers have come themselves to the cross to die with Jesus so that Sin can be brought to nothing. Being a child of God allows us to be set free from slavery to sin. But we do have a problem! That problem is understanding what sin is all about.
Most teaching about sin emphasizes actions that are taken rather than attitudes that are held. Much Christian teaching emphasizes keeping rules that are usually called “the law”. The 10th commandment given to Moses by God helps us understand the rest of the…
Old Testament commandments. Let’s look at Exodus 20:17. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Coveting does not involve doing anything that is seen outwardly. Coveting happens on the inside and may never be known to exist. We have been trained to live in society in an acceptable manner. As long as we act out the Christian life no one knows what goes on inside a person’s heart.
It’s true that many of the biblical laws speak of actions that we take. Moses presented the law the way God gave it to him. It is appropriate that the initial set of laws should be concluded with the motivation that is the basis of all the law. When Jesus was asked about the most important law he replied “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.… a second is like it you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37&39)
When Jesus answered this important question he pointed out that sin is not just breaking a rule or a law. The laws are deeply embedded in the inside of man. Throughout his ministry…
Jesus reinforces. Let’s look at these words from the Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:21-22. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Verse 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
These two examples show us what God’s original intent was. Based on Jesus’ words we can see that murder happens first in the heart and mind of the individual committing the crime. Anger, insults, harsh words always precede the act. Adultery is not just a physical act but does include that, adultery first happens in the heart and mind. Looking with lust is the beginning of adultery. Now, let me explain something, many people say that one sin is equal to any other sin. That is not true! It is true that all sin is wrong but variations of sin lead to different consequences.
When a person says that looking with lust is adultery the conclusion is sometimes drawn that you might as well go ahead commit the act of adultery. When a person looks with lust no one else knows about it. Oh yes, an onlooker, or the object of the look, might suspect what’s going on in the mind of the one who looks. But it does not have the same consequences as actually committing the sin. When a man goes ahead with his lustful desires he sins against the woman, his family (wife/children), the family of the object of his lust, as well as his social circle. The punishment for the actual act is going to be much worse than the punishment for the lustful thought.
Sin is seen in attitude. Look at this list from Galatians 5:20. Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,
This partial list points out what’s going on inside the sinner. Idolatry may be acted out but it grows out of a covetous heart. Sorcery happens in the mind before it is publicly known. Enmity grows out of a hard attitude that leads to strife. Jealousy is an interior motive that leads to anger, rivalry, dissensions and divisions.
In the beginning, there was no sin. Let’s look at Genesis 1:31a. God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
After each day of creation, the Bible tells us that God saw that it was good. After the sixth day when he looked on the totality of his creation, he said, “it was very good”. “Very good” involved the whole creation. There was no sin in the beginning. God’s creation was good and very good.
After the passage of time…
There was rebellion in heaven. Let’s look at Genesis 3:1-3. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
We do not know how much time passed but sometime between God’s statement that all was very good and the challenge place before Eve Satan rebelled. Part of his rebellion would be an attempt to bring the man and woman down from their position as God’s appointed caretakers for the earth.
When Satan came and challenged their trust in God they had already been given clear direction. The woman was deceived but her willingness to take the fruit indicated a lack of concern on her part for her relationship with God. Satan presented her with the idea that she could be like God. She did not believe that she would die if she ate the fruit. When God tells you that something is “surely” going to happen please remember he is God and completely in charge. God did not kill the man and woman in the garden because he intended the human race to continue. Obviously but intent involved us in our generation. So the man and woman could not die physically until they produced offspring. However, they did spiritually die because they were separated from God and the Garden!
We will come back to that little later. In the meantime let’s consider…
The consequence of evil described in Romans 5:12. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.
Even though it was the woman who was deceived the Bible is very clear that the man was responsible for what happened. Adam was Eve’s spiritual guide. He was present when she was presented with the deception. He did nothing to stop it! The problem Adam and Eve faced was not a matter of “fruit” it was a matter of trust. They chose not to believe God.
The truth was challenged. Let’s look at Genesis 3:4. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.”
The one thing that Satan surely knew was that God does not lie! The Bible repeatedly tells us that God does not lie. However, Adam and Eve had not had enough experience with God. They should have believed. He had never failed them!
They had walked and talked with him daily and when they were given the opportunity to disobey him they took it. Sin begins in the heart or mind of a person. Our first ancestor certainly had plenty of opportunities to think about what was right and what was wrong. By the action they took…
Their sin changed the idea of right and wrong. Let’s read on Genesis 3:5-6. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Now we see the whole picture of sin entering the world. Not only did they give in to Satan’s temptations they condemned all their unborn children to spiritual death. Satan had promised that the when they ate of the fruit their eyes would be opened.
Their eyes were opened. Suddenly, they experienced shame. It was a shame brought on by their act of disobedience but it was reflected in their becoming aware that they were naked. It seems to me that until then they had always been clothed in the glory of God. They had no sense of shame before they sinned. Now let’s look at…
The Bible’s definition. Let’s read Romans 14:23. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
What Adam and Eve did in the garden certainly did not proceed from faith. So the Bible tells us that sin is everything that does not proceed from faith. We might look carefully at our own lives see where we are at with regard to sin. We need to cultivate a faith that believes God because he will always count it as righteousness if we have such a faith. The second part of the Bible’s definition is found in James 4:17. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
If you know something is right and you failed to do it that is sin. We can only be free from sin if we exercise our faith in Christ and follow him by doing the right thing.
Ultimately, sin is anything that comes into our life, or out of our hearts that does not agree with God. Sin begins with an attitude that says I will be ruler in my own life. For the human race sin began in the Garden of Eden. It soon spread to a war in heaven. That sin attitude is born into each one of us and becomes the factory that produces a multitude of activities that we call sin. John the apostle simply stated that all wrongdoing is sin. John also said, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.… If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.”
(1 John 1:8-10) Remember, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.