What is Sin?

The story is told of an animal trainer who raised a young boa constrictor to slither out of his cage, over to the trainer and wrap around his body until he stared him in the face. Years passed and he continued to work on the stunt. Then one day, with the crowds present, the full grown snake slithered over, began to move up his body, tightened his muscles and killed the trainer. /1
Sin is a beast that appears friendly until we realize it is killing us. Ultimately, it stands between us and salvation. We must determine what sin really means so we can avoid it. Ezekiel 18:4 says, “the soul who sins shall die.?
We must acknowledge that man’s usage of “sin” varies greatly from God’s definition. The dictionary definition of “sin” is “a transgression of a religious or moral law,” which lacks specificity. Paul writes in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (NKJV).
The Greek word used for sin most often in the New Testament means “missing the mark.” In Judges 20:16 we read, “Among all this people were seven hundred select men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair’s breadth and not miss.” They would shoot and always hit their mark. This is an excellent example to help us better understand the term.
Spiritually, we cannot consistently hit the mark. We are weak and fail to live up to the standard God has established. We have the grace of God to accomplish what we cannot do for ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9). “God has a high and holy standard of what is right, and so long as man follows the Divine standard he will see himself as he truly exists in God’s eyes. The flat statement of the Almighty is that all men have fallen short of God’s required standard. Let no man ever think that he comes anywhere near the standard set by God.” /2
Man’s definition is subjective, while God’s is objective. Upon this key point lies the source of so much confusion. Under man’s subjective definition of sin, Romans 3:23 would be proved false. Not everyone would be sinners. If the definition were subjective, men would develop their own definition so they would be found righteous.
God’s definition of sin is objective because it is based on a standard. John wrote, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Violation of the law of God is sin. We cannot live up to the standard God has laid before us. Therefore, we need grace in order to be saved. It will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-10).
The standard of Scripture that will judge us on the last day (John 12:48) is not influenced by changing times, opinions, styles, or philosophies. It is never influenced by the mental and emotional frailty of human beings. Instead, it stands high above human weakness as a mountain fortress, guarding the truth of the ages. We can rest within its borders as long as we approach it in humility. Violation of its laws is sin, not just an opinion or choice.
“God, because of who He is, could not stoop to the human standards of man’s sinful heart.” /3 God had to lift his standard above us in order to lift his children higher. It is there that the light resides with endless supplies of peace, clarity, and comfort. Outside of that light, in darkness, is the snare and the endless captivity of sin. The choice is clear.
1/ Mike Benson, editor, Knee Mail, October 05, 2004.
2/ http://tinyurl.com/bp2dm
3/ Ibid

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Richard lives in Florence, Alabama and is married to Deirdre. They have three daughters. He is an avid reader, devoted writer and lover of history and research. He is the author of "The Most Important Question" and is working on more books.

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