Questions Christians Ask: What is Sin and Why is it Such a Big Deal?

The Creation of Humanity and Sins Entrance into the World

Sin disrupts everything. We don’t live in the world that we were originally designed to live in because of sin. Things simply aren’t the way they were originally meant to be. The story of the human race, as presented in the Bible, is the story of God fixing broken people living in a broken world. It is the story of God’s victory over the many results of sin in the world. And the story begins at the very beginning of the Bible.

The key passage for understanding the nature of mankind is found in Genesis 1:26-28:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them,Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Both men and women are said to be made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), they are the only beings in all creation that this is said about. Consequently, they are more like God than anything else in all creation.

God did not create humans because of any need within himself (Job 41:11; Psalm 50:9–12; Acts 17:24–25) but primarily so that He would be glorified in them as they delight in Him and reflect His character. God describes his people as “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (Isaiah 43:7).

How Did Human Sin Originate?

With respect to the human race, the first sin was that of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). The eating of the fruit of the ‘tree of knowledge of good and evil’ (the first human sin) is in three ways typical of sin generally:

1. Their sin struck at the basis for knowledge, for it gave a different answer to the question: “What is true?” Whereas God had said that Adam and Eve would die if they ate from the tree (Genesis 2:17), the serpent said, “you will not die” (Genesis 3:4). Eve decided to doubt the truthfulness of God’s word and conduct an experiment to see whether God spoke truthfully.

2. Their sin struck at the basis for moral standards, for it gave a different answer to the question “What is right?” God had said that it was morally right of Adam and Eve not to eat from the fruit of that one tree (Genesis 2:17). But the serpent suggested that it would be right to eat of the fruit, and that in eating it Adam and Eve would become “like God” (Genesis 3:5). Eve trusted her own evaluation of what was right rather than allowing God’s words to define right and wrong.

3. Their sin gave a different answer to the question, “Who am I?” The correct answer was that Adam and Eve were creatures of God, dependent on him and always to be dependent upon him as their Creator and Lord. But Eve, and then Adam, succumbed to the temptation to “be like God” (Genesis 3:5), thus attempting to put themselves in the place of God

What is Sin?

Sin is anything (whether in thoughts, actions, or attitudes) that does not express or conform to the holy character of God as expressed in his moral law.

1. Sin is moral evil (e.g., murder) as opposed to natural evil (e.g., cancer). Moral evil is personal rebellion against God, and it is what brought natural evil into the world.

2. Sin is always and ultimately related to God. While sin has devastating societal, relational, and physical ramifications, the central problem of sin is that it offends and incurs the wrath of God. David demonstrates this understanding in his confession of adultery and murder: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Psalm 51:4). This is not to minimize his sin against Bathsheba, her husband Uriah, or the people of Israel, but rather to recognize that, relatively speaking, it is God he has ultimately offended, and it is to God alone that he must finally answer. Sin is a personal attack on the character and ordinances of God.

3. Sin is breaking God’s law, which can take several forms. There are sins of omission (not doing what we should) as well as sins of commission (doing what we should not do). Breaking one of God’s commandments is rebellion against the entire character of God, and in that sense it is equivalent to breaking all of the commandments: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10). God’s unified law is a reflection of his personal nature and claims, which means that rejecting one of his laws amounts to rejecting him

4. Sin is rooted deep in our very nature, and sinful actions reveal the condition of a depraved heart within: “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19). Internal attitudes are frequently identified as sinful or righteous in the Bible, and God demands not only correct outward actions but also that the heart be right (Exodus 20:17; Hebrews 13:5).

5. Sin has brought about a guilty standing before God and a corrupted condition in all humans. The pronouncement of guilt is God’s legal determination that people are in an unrighteous state before him, and the condition of corruption is our polluted state which inclines us toward ungodly behavior. By the grace of God, both this inherited guilt and this inherited moral pollution are atoned for by Christ: “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 Are Sinful Before God.

Scripture testifies to the universal sinfulness of mankind. No one is exempt. No one is above this description. David says, “They have all gone astray they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good, no not one” (Psalm 14:3). “No man living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143:2). And Solomon says, “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46).” And Paul says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

So, this is the bad news. The good news is that God has not left us without hope. as I said in the introduction, the Bible is the story of God’s victory over the effects of sin and rebellion among his creation. We will look next time of God’s triumph through the cross of Jesus Christ.


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