A review of Sin: Who says what is sin, Why do we care, and What we should do about sin.

The question has been asked, “Is it a sin to not speak out against the sin of homosexuality?”. That is really too simplistic a question for our purposes. It seems to me that the bigger questions are: “Who determines what is sin?”, “What is sin?”, “Is sin always a conscious thing?”, “Who do we sin against?”, “Does it matter if we sin?”, “Should we speak against sin?”, “What should be our response to sin?”.

Who determines what is sin?

The simple answer is the one who created everything gets to set the rules, so God is the one who determines what sin is.

  • God created everything.
  • Genesis 1:1

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

  • God has a plan for the whole world.
  • Isaiah 14:26-27

     26 This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. 27 For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?

  •  God told the people what He expected from them.
  • Exodus 24:3

    When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the LORD has said we will do.”

  • So it is God who determines what is right and what is sin.

 

What is sin?

  • We can see that sin is present when we do not do what is right:
  • Genesis 4:6-7

    6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

  • Sin is lawlessness.
  • 1 John 3:4

    Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

  • Sin is not doing what is right.
  • 1 John 5:17

    All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

  • Sin is not obeying God.
  • Jeremiah 3:25

    Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our fathers; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the LORD our God.”

  • Sin is what we do, and that the wicked are those who sin, while the righteous are those who do not:
  • Genesis 18:20-25

    20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

    22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

  • But sin is also in our thoughts.
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5

    We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  • Sin is in our hearts.
  • Mark 7:20-21

    20 He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ 21 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ “

  • Our motives can be sinful.
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:3

    For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.

  • We have a sinful nature.
  • Romans 7:21-25

    21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

  • And as we’ve seen, sin is also a matter of action.
  • Galatians 5:16-26

    16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 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. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Is sin always a conscious thing?

  • We can sin with a clear conscience, that is we can do something wrong and not know it (unitentionally) or not feel bad about it:
  • Genesis 20:6

    Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.

    Leviticus 4:1

    1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands

  • We can sin unintentionally, but ignorance of a sin does not remove our guilt:
  • Leviticus 4:13

    If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty.

    Leviticus 4:22

    When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the LORD his God, he is guilty.

    Leviticus 5:17

    If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible.

  • We can sin intentionally.
  • Numbers 15:30

    But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people.

Who do we sin against?

  • We can sin against a person:
  • Genesis 42:22

    Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.”

  • We can sin against God as well as people; we can forgive sin:
  • Exodus 10:16-18

    16 Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. 17 Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the LORD your God to take this deadly plague away from me.”

     18 Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD.

“What does it matter if we sin?”

  • Sin separates us from God.
  • Isaiah 59:2

    But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

  • God punishes sin.
  • Exodus 32:34

    Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

    Hosea 9:9

    They have sunk deep into corruption, as in the days of Gibeah. God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.

  • Sin has consequences to the third and fourth generation.
  • Exodus 20:5 (NASB)

    You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

  • God forgives sin.
  • Micah 7:18

    Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

  • People can be led into sin:
  • Exodus 23:33

    Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.

  • We can lead others to sin. Indeed, rulers can lead entire nations to sin.
  • 1 Kings 22:52

    He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother and in the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin.

  • Atonement must be made for sin. Originally, the people were taught to make physical sacrifices of animals and plants (as a concrete example):
  • Exodus 29:36

    Sacrifice a bull each day as a sin offering to make atonement. Purify the altar by making atonement for it, and anoint it to consecrate it.

  • Before Christ, atonement had to happen repeatedly (this example shows yearly atonement for the people):
  • Exodus 30:10

    Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the LORD.”

  • God forgives sin, yet punishes the guilty of their sin:
  • Exodus 34:6-7 (NASB)

    6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;

    7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

  • But Christ came to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
  • Hebrews 9:26

    Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

  • God listens to the godly person who does God’s will, not to sinners.
  • John 9:31

    We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.

  • God will turn us over to our own sinful desires if we do not repent.
  • Romans 1:24

    Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

  • We earn death with our sin.
  • Romans 6:23

    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • God said that when we learn about right and wrong is when we die spiritually.
  • Romans 7:9-11

    9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.

  • The sinful mind is death, is hostile to God, can not submit to God’s law, and can not please God.
  • Romans 8:6-8

    6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

  • As we’ve seen, we are to stop ourselves from even thinking sinful thoughts.
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5

    We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  • God said we are responsible if we do not speak up about sin.
  • Leviticus 5:1

    If a person sins because he does not speak up when he hears a public charge to testify regarding something he has seen or learned about, he will be held responsible.

What is to be our response to sin?

  • The fear of God can keep us from sinning:
  • Exodus 20:20

    Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

  • We need to believe that God sent Jesus to suffer and die for our sins.
  • John 3:16-18

    16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

  • We need to repent – to turn from sin, to change.
  • 2 Corinthians 7:10

    Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

    Acts 5:31

    God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.

  • When we repent, we will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 2:38

    Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Ephesians 4:30

    And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

  • This both justifies us and sanctifies us – declares us righteous (with the righteousness of Christ) and separates us from the world for God (https://wbmoore.wordpress.com/2008/06/21/comparing-justification-and-sanctification/).
  • Galatians 3:13

    13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

    1 Corinthians 1:2

    2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

  • We need to give evidence that we have turned from sin. One evidence is baptism.
  • Acts 2:38

    Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

     Acts 26:20

    First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

  • We need to live like we have turned from sin and to God.
  • Matthew 3:8

    Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

    1 Thessalonians 4:7

    For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

  • We need to help others out of sin and forgive.
  • Luke 17:3

    So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.

  • Rather than live a sinful life, we need to leave sin behind and move towards becoming Christ-like.
  • Galatians 5:16-26

    16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 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. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

  • We are to grow in our holiness.
  • 2 Corinthians 7:1

    Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God

     

God created us. God loves us. But it is GOD who determines right from wrong. It is GOD who must forgive us our sins. But we have our part in turning to Him through faith in Christ, and turning away from sin.

We are to turn away from sin, and turn to God through faith in Christ. We are to be baptized because of the forgiveness we recieve from God. And we are to live in a way that shows we have turned away from sin and turned to God through faith in Christ. We are to avoid sin.  We are to help others who are caught up in sin, and forgive them if they sin against us.

Another post on this subject: https://wbmoore.wordpress.com/2008/07/23/is-sin-a-matter-of-thought-motive-action-or-nature/
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