What is Sin?

Biblical Salvation

Since Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, sin has been the downfall of man. Sin is defined in the Word of God as "all unrighteousness" (1 John 5:17), "the transgression of God's law" (1 John 3:4), and "whatsoever is not of faith" (Romans 14:23). Also, failure to do what we know we should do is termed a sin in James 4:17.

The punishment for sin is death – both physical and spiritual. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15). "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou latest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). "The soul that sinneth, it shall die..." (Ezekiel 18:20). The spiritual death one must suffer is eternal separation from God in the lake of fire. "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14, 15).

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23). Due to the fact that all of humanity are descendants of Adam, every human being has inherited the sin nature from him. We are all condemned to eternal death as a result of our sins unless we accept the substitutionary death of Christ. Jesus came "...to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26). When we go through Him we attain unto a state of being made free from sin.

1 John 3:9 states, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin..." because the blood of Christ "...cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Contrary to erroneous belief, there is no such thing as a "sinning Christian." If we a Christ, we are not a sinner, and if we are a sinner, we are not a Christian. The Word of God is emphatic that a person cannot be both at once. To be a sinner means to commit sin. "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works the works of the devil [which is sin]" (1 John 3:8). Verse ten of the same chapter tells us how we can know a sinner from a Christian. Matthew 7:16 further declares, "Ye shall know them by their fruits...." John concludes, "...whosoever is born of God sinneth not..." (1 John 5:18).

This does not imply that a person cannot sin when he is born of God; rather, it shows that he does not sin when he is born of God. A person is capable of sinning again after conversion by yielding to temptation and being drawn away of his own lusts. The person falls from his born again state and is once again subject to sin's punishment the same as before according to James 1:14, 15. To avoid this happening, a person must continue in Christ.

If we continue in Christ, then when He appears the second time, "...without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28), "...we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). Only then can we hear Him say, "...Well done, thou good and faithful servant..." (Matthew 25:21).


Additional Resources

This resource contains information adapted from Sin, which can be obtained via the online store. Sin is an Outreach Literature tract produced by The Church of God and presents the biblical explanation of the nature and condemnation of sin.


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