"Sin"? Its Not What You Think
"THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE ... BUT IF THE WICKED WILL TURN FROM ALL HIS SINS ... HE SHALL NOT DIE." Ezek 18:20-21 (KJV)
Sin is a matter of life and death for the Christian. Therefore it is vital for us to understand what sin is, and also what sin is NOT. Without the true definition of sin, the Christian will be constantly "tossed to and fro" by the deceits of man and the accusations of the Devil.
WHAT SIN IS:
The apostle John gave us an absolutely clear definition of sin. He said: "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: FOR SIN IS THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW*." I Jn 3:4 (KJV)
*LAW 1. The Ten Commandments given to Moses (Exodus 20:3-17, summarized God's requirements of Man.) New Compact Bible Dictionary (Zondervan)
The scriptures clearly teach that in order to commit a sin WE MUST TRANSGRESS ONE OF GOD'S TEN COMMANDMENTS. Therefore, whenever you see the word sin used as a verb simply substitute John's definition which is "Transgression of the law" and you will never be led astray from the truth. For example:
"Go and sin [transgress the law] no more." John 8:11
WHAT SIN IS NOT:
Sin is not a wrong thought, or evil desire, or even an impulse to do wrong. A temptation to sin may fill your heart till you ache, but in order to commit sin, you must actually break one of God's Ten Commandments.
Since we know that "Sin is transgression of the law", we may say that ONLY transgression of the law is sin! As a man, Jesus was tempted with evil thoughts, but He was "in all points tempted like as we are, YET WITHOUT SIN." (Heb 4:15) His thoughts were not sin, and neither are yours!
Many will say that our thoughts are sin because Jesus gave this warning to the disciples: "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matt 5:28 (KJV)
Although that verse does seem to say that what we are thinking can be sin, we also know that "sin is the transgression of the law" How can we make these two ideas fit together? The answer is this: Jesus was explaining that we could break God's law not only by the outward physical act, but also by the INTENT of the mind.
Therefore, if a man looks upon a woman with the intent to commit adultery (i.e. he would if he had the opportunity), then he has already sinned because he has already decided to break God's law.
IF, KNOWING THAT IT IS WRONG, WE DECIDE TO BREAK A COMMANDMENT, IN GOD'S EYES WE ARE ALREADY GUILTY.
Our thoughts or emotions could not possibly be a sin because we cannot control what comes into our minds. In fact, many suggestions come to us straight from the devil. Therefore, it is not the desire or emotion itself that is an act of sin, but what we CHOOSE to do.
We must be careful to distinguish between sins done in ignorance and willful sin. In order to commit willful sin there must be both KNOWLEDGE and INTENT:
1. A KNOWLEDGE of God's law.
2. A deliberate INTENT of the mind to disobey God's law.
Once we become aware that a particular act is sin and we do not stop doing it, we are then choosing to commit willful sin. Paul warned us that the Christian who continues to sin willfully will be lost! He said:
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." Heb 10:26-27 (KJV)
CHRISTIANS HATE SIN!
Those who are truly born of God hate sin and want to live far from it. As Christians grow and the Holy Spirit teaches them to recognize their sins, they will immediately stop doing them. Thus we may understand the meaning of John's statement: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;" I Jn 3:9 (KJV)
The real Christian's attitude toward sin was described by the Bible commentator John Ebrand, in this manner:
"To the truly regenerate man it is altogether impossible willingly and willfully to do that which he knows to be forbidden by God."
He said that a Christian may be ensnared (tricked) into sin, but that sin is "contrary to the bent of his will, he cannot love, and cherish, and entertain sin. Nor can he sin in such a way as to knowingly and willingly act contrary to the will of God." (Commentary on St. Johns Epistles by John H. A. Ebrard T & T Clark 1860)
In order for a Christian to continue in the faith and grow to maturity, he must completely cease from the doing of willful sin. Thus we are able to understand these verses
from John's Epistle:
"Whosoever abideth in him SINNETH NOT:" I Jn 3:6 (KJV)
"And he that keepeth his commandments ABIDETH in him ..."
I Jn 3:24 (ASV)
Please read that verse again. John said that those who ABIDE in Jesus are those who keep His Commandments! Jesus Himself warned us that those who do not ABIDE in Him will come to a terrible end. Our Lord said:
"If a man abide NOT in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." John 15:6 (KJV) For those Christians who after reading this still choose to take sin lightly because they think they are "under grace", here is what Jesus had to say to you:
"If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be THROWN INTO HELL.." Matt 5:29 (RSV)
Any of you who professes to be a Christian and still continues to sin willfully may be sure of one thing --you are not yet born of God, because:
"Whosoever is born of God DOTH NOT commit sin;"
I Jn 3:9 (KJV)
Although God may indeed be pouring out His love upon you and calling you to be saved, if you are still committing sin (i.e. knowingly breaking even one of God's Ten Commandments, including God's Sabbath), you are still a servant of sin, and Jesus left this warning for you:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth NOT in the house for ever: " John 8:34-35 (KJV)
"THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE"!
Harold and Donna Kupp