Bible Study Blog

What is Sin?

by Brandy Webb

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What is sin to you? Is it possible to figure out this question without looking at God’s Word? Is it possible to fully understand sin without God’s law? The Bible states that sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). Transgression means to break or violate a law. So, if sin is the transgression of the law, yet supposedly the law of God was nailed to the cross, then how are Christians supposed to behave?

The truth is, Jesus didn’t do away with His law, and please destroy the misconception that the Law of God is somehow only for the Jews. It is never called the law of Judah. It is called the Law of God. God gave His law, His statutes, His commandments, His truth, to all of Israel and for all foreigners that wanted to live within Israel (Exodus 12:49). Remember, there was a mixed multitude that went out with the Israelites when they left Egypt, which means there was a mixed multitude that heard God’s law proclaimed at Mt. Sinai. That is why God states it very clearly that anyone dwelling within the gates of Israel is to keep His laws, and anyone that wanted to become part of His people is welcomed. 

The idea that the two Testaments are separate is wrong. All that Jesus and the apostles referred to was the Old Testament. The New Testament didn’t exist yet. Jesus was trying to get His people to return back to His truths and not their man-made additions to His law. God wanted His law to be written on the hearts of His people (Deuteronomy 6:6). It was always to be a heart thing, not a Pharisaical/self-righteous thing. Jesus had to remind the people that the law is a heart thing. It is a love thing. That is why He actually boldly made the Law have more depth and more meaning. It was not just your actions that mattered, it also dealt with your thoughts and words (Matthew 5:21-48).

Jesus also made it very clear that nothing, not one comma, not one period, nothing, was going to be removed from His law until Heaven and Earth cease to exist (Matthew 5:17-20). As far as I know, that has yet to happen. 

So, back to my initial questions: What is sin? Can you define sin without God’s law? My answer is you can’t define sin without God’s law. Sin is any time I transgress against God’s law. It is those times that I coveted in my head what someone else had. I am not happy about it, but I have to be honest. I wouldn’t know that I even coveted when I became envious of someone else, if I didn’t have God’s Word to define coveting. I’m not perfect. No one is perfect. The apostles weren’t perfect. We all fall short of the Glory of God. This is why Jesus died. Not to do away with the Law, but to do away with our sins. He sacrificed Himself because only His blood can cleanse us. Does this mean that I no longer have to strive to not sin? No. “Shall we continue in sin so that grace may increase? By no means! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?... Therefore do not let sin control your mortal body so that you obey its desires” (Romans 6:1-2, 12).

If Paul worked hard to stay on the narrow path with fear and trembling, I’d better do the same. Am I trying to earn salvation? No. I’m trying to live my life in obedience because I love my God. Do my kids listen to me because they are trying to earn my love? No. They listen to me because they love me and obedience is one way to show it.

Love is an action. It is how we live. It is not some empty word, and it is not just a feeling we have. Love requires work. I can’t show my faith/love for God without actions to back up the words coming out of my mouth. I become a hypocrite when the words I speak are not backed up by the life I lead. Therefore:

97 Oh, how I love Your law! 

It is my meditation all the day. 

98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, 

For Your words are always with me. (Psalm 119:97-98)