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The Bible and Sin Part 1

Updated on February 11, 2012
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I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.

Sin: Man's Most Devastating Problem

If you were asked to define the worst problem facing mankind today, there would be about as many answers as you have people who are asked. There is disease, and war, poverty and pollution. There are the fears that many have of another terrorist attack like September 11, 2001. And there are economic woes that come from greedy bankers and a government that doesn't know the meaning of a balanced budget. There are even all the natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, floods and tornadoes that wreak havoc on our world. But these are nothing compared to one three letter word that, according to the Bible, has caused all of the problems that mankind has ever faced, and is likely to face in the future. That three letter word is sin.

I. Mankind's Denial of Sin

In 1973, American psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger wrote a book entitled Whatever Became of Sin? In his book he relates how this word has all but disappeared from our modern vocabulary. Mankind has tried to deny it, but the sense of guilt still remains. What he is saying is true. Deny the fact of sin all you want, and it will still destroy you.

There are physical laws to the created universe, put in place by God. One of those is the law of gravity. You can choose to ignore it and do what you want. However, ignoring it won't make gravity go away. If I jump out of an airplane which is thousands of feet in the air without a parachute and say: "I don't believe in gravity" what do you think will happen? I will be just as dead as if I believed in it and fell out of the plane, or jumped, trying to commit suicide.

Well, the same is true of the moral laws which are put in place by that same God, who is the one and only Lord of the universe. He is a holy God and has moral absolutes which need to be followed. The consequences of not obeying the rules are more devastating than disobeying the physical laws. They lead to death and an eternal separation from the One who alone can set the standards.

II. Biblical Words and Statements Regarding Sin

The Bible has several words for sin, but the word most frequently used in the Hebrew Old Testament is chata. The Greek word is hamartano. Both of these words mean to miss the mark, to stumble, to fall, and to err.

Along with these two major terms, there are also, others. The various words help fill out the definition of sin. It is transgression, a breaking over the bounds of God's law. Sin is iniquity, or a deviation from what is right. It is a trespass. By that is meant the intrusion of self-will into the realm of God's authority. Also, it is unbelief. This is an insult to divine veracity. It is lawlessness, which is spiritual anarchy. Finally, it is a coming short of the mark, or a failure to measure up to the divine standard.

Scripture also has some statements which might help us to understand the concept of sin a little better. They are as follows:

I John 3:4 - "Whoever commits sin, transgresses also the law: for sin is a transgression of the law." (It might be more correct to translate this: "Sin is lawlessness").

I John 5:17- "All unrighteousness is sin."

Romans 14:23- " ...whatever is not of faith is sin."

James 4:17- "Therefore to him who knows to do good, and doesn't do it, to him it is sin."

From these words and statements of Scripture theologians have come up with their own definitions for this most devastating of words.

III. Theological Definitions of Sin

One theologian, A.H. Strong, has said: "Sin is a lack of conformity to the moral law of God, either in act, disposition or state." Charles Hodge has defined it as: "A transgression of , or want of conformity to the divine law." And James Buswell has stated: "Sin may be defined ultimately as anything in the creature which does not express, or which is contrary to, the holy character of the Creator.

There are many more theologians who have given their definitions, but all of them have a common theme. It is the theme that we have already expressed in this article, but it needs to be repeated. There is a Holy God who is the Sovereign of the universe. He has defined the way that universe ought to run. Therefore there are moral absolutes. And going against what God has defined as good and proper is sin, whether in thought or deed.


There are many questions we have to answer yet in order to see what the Bible has to say about sin, but we will save them for later. What we need to learn from what we've seen so far is that sin is not just some old concept from the dark ages, but is the major problem that needs to be faced by all mankind. If we don't deal with the sin problem, it will not only affect the rest of our lives, but will lead to an eternal existence in Hell, apart from God's presence. We take sin far too lightly today. God didn't! He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world. But we need to accept that free gift, in order to receive it. If you haven't done so, accept Christ as your Lord and Savior today. If you have, then thank God that you no longer are enslaved to sin, but have eternal life through Christ.

It is my hope that all who read this will develop a revulsion for sin in this world and in their own lives as well. And may that hatred drive us closer to the One who alone is able to deal with that sin and give to us a new nature free from its grip on us.


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    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      7 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Thank you skye2day. My prayer is that God will use me to spread His truth....God bless you.

    • skye2day profile image


      7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      godtalk I really like how you have led the reader into the basic truths of sin. Your writing is eloquent and spells the truth in Jesus Christ. I do pray many are led to your writings. I believe in the coming days many will come to read and seeds will be planted. Amen brother Good works faithful servant. In Christ, your sister loves ya.

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      8 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      It may be possible for a man to do good works and not be a saved individual. You are right that only God can know for sure a persons motives. But if someone looks at a person who claims to be a Christian and doesn't see any evidence of a new life, then they have every right to question if they actually are saved. It is this outward evidence of an inward conversion that James is talking about in his epistle. Indeed you're correct that our outward acts do demonstrate the inward heart. Thanks for commenting.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      8 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      We were just discussing works and faith this morning in Sunday School. It seems to me that God looks on the heart so He sees our motives and attitudes as well as the "works". On the other hand, man looks on the outward appearance. Our outward acts should line up with our inward heart. Just a thought! Thanks for taking on another tough subject.

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      8 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      I want to reserve most of my comments for my Hubs but I need to say that a person who is alive through faith in Jesus Christ will show proof of that life by his works. Works are a result of salvation and not a cause. Just as a living tree will produce fruit, a living Christian will produce good works.

      As far as the Law is concerned, Jesus didn't abolish it, he fulfilled it perfectly. He lived a perfect life of righteousness that none of us could ever live so that He could die as our substitute on the cross. God made Him to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21). He took upon Himself the penalty for violating the law of God, which is death. Now we are no longer under the curse of the Law. We are under the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2; I Corinthians 9:21).

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      John & James are in the NEW Testament.

    • Millercl profile image


      8 years ago

      Gusser, you equivocate. Many say the Old Testament Law is no longer in effect.

      Which, with biblical understanding, is true.

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      8 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Thanks for your comments. I will try to address what you've brought up in my upcoming articles. God bless you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      John said sin is transgression of the law. Many today say the law is no longer in effect. James said if you know good, but don't do it,(works) that is also sin. Many today rely on faith while doing no works. I am glad to follow along to see where this hub leads.


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