When we hear the word “sin”, we automatically tag it as something we should not do. Even in younger children, sin is presented as something that comes before a consequence. We are taught to listen to our parents, teachers, and higher authorities. Whenever we “sin” towards people in our lives, we get scolded and we are urged to apologize and repent. Of course, we all know that sinning is never a good deed. But, what is a sin? What makes something a sin? Let’s uncover the anatomy of sins so we can constantly and effectively remind ourselves to avoid it.
The Bible has two major concepts revolving sin: The first concept speaks of how sin is “missing the mark” by doing wrong (1 John 3:4). As we all know, God has set rules and instructions for us to follow. He did this because He wants us to live in righteousness and peace (Isaiah 48:17-18). But, when we fail to comply and meet His standards for righteousness, we sin. The second concept speaks of how we fail to do what is right (James 4:17). At times when we know that we are doing or thinking are wrong yet still continue on these actions, we also sin.
What Is A Sin and Why Is It Bad?
Sure, anyone can agree that sin is a bad thing. But, what makes it bad? Why does God dislike sin? And most importantly, why should we avoid it? Knowing what is a sin isn’t enough to drive us against its force. Here are some Biblical reasons as to why God has planted rules for us to avoid sinning.
Sin Destroys Us
This is clearly stated in Mark 7:20-23. It’s a matter of being defined or defiled. The words and the actions that we do defines us. Without sin, we can see our true nature, values, and purpose. This is why God wants us to stray away from sin- He does not want us to live without experiencing the freedom of being ourselves. On the other hand, sin defiles us. Sexual immorality, adultery, greed, envy, slander, and hatred, vengeance, and more, cover our souls with so much evil and wrongdoings that we lose track of who we really are and what truly matters. Instead of letting sin destroy us, we should do what’s right, pure, and through love.
Sin Stops Us From Receiving Our Inheritance
Speaking of what truly matters, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 makes it clear that being sinful stops us from receiving the greatest gift God has for us – the inheritance of His Kingdom. We need to think about this more, our life on Earth is limited and short. What awaits us after is the inheritance of God; eternal life with Him. But, the Bible warns us that committing sins like adultery, immorality, slander, idolatry, and more takes that spot from us. People who claim to be Christians should not condone any of these sinful acts. And if they do, they should reevaluate their lives because encouraging or ignoring these acts will also not inherit the kingdom of God.
Every Sin Has A Consequence
Sin is not something to be taken lightly. In the Bible, we are constantly warned about what happens when we defy God. Undoubtedly, the Lord offers us eternal life with Him in Heaven. But, if we deny Him, then, it’s only fair to say that Hell is the opposite of receiving Heaven. So, it’s good to ask ourselves, what is a sin so we can avoid it. Hell is the outcome of rejecting God. Simply put, we reject God by welcoming sin. Because of sin, those who are unrepentant for their sins will face a second death, one that consists of burning in a fiery lake of sulfur (Revelation 21:8), never to be with God again (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Sin Enslaves Us
In answering the question of what is a sin, we have to understand what sin does to us first. In John 8:34, Jesus mentions that everyone who commits sin is a slave to it. Whenever we commit a sin, we separate ourselves from Lord’s Grace. And as a result of this separation, we cannot find the true happiness the Lord promises us. Sin is like an addiction, the more we do it, the more likely we justify it. As an effect, the more we do it, the less happy we get since separating from the Lord takes away our bliss. Galatians 5:1 emphasizes how with Jesus, we are free. He gave us the freedom with His Sacrifice so that we won’t have to return to the slavery of our sins.
God Detests Sin
One thing is for sure, God is not present in sin, He is holy and pure. This has always been how it works. While God’s Mercy covers even the sinners, He detests sins. Romans 1:18-32 expresses His wrath against humanity’s sins. In this verse, it mentions how God gave them “over” to their sins. This alone answers how separated we get from God when we sin. God is a loving Father and He never wants to separate from us. But, because of sin, we end up losing track of God’s Voice in our lives. He loathes sin no matter how big or how small it is.
Are There Differences Between Big and Small Sins?
As we have answered the question of what is a sin and what it generally does in our lives, we will now answer if there are sins heavier than another. Well, the answer is No. There are no differences between a big or small sin. Suffice to say, all sins are equally bad and should be neglected out of our lives. We should eliminate sin regardless of what it is, big or small. We can think of sins like an infection in our bodies. While they don’t necessarily end up deadly at first, if they are untreated, health complications follow.
Sins weaken our relationship with God. And no matter how small they are, they still can grow bigger. But that doesn’t bean bigger is worse, for all sins are equally as bad (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). When we know we have sinned, we should acknowledge these sins as early as possible and repent. We should pray, ask God for forgiveness, and try our best to avoid doing that sin again (1 John 1:9). Sins are not only unrighteous but the act of committing sin insults the Lord and His Love.
Examples of Sin
To have a deeper understanding of what is a sin and its nature, we need to know what is considered a sin according to the Bible. The weight of one person’s sin is no different than another’s no matter who they are, Christian or non-Christian. Here are examples of the most common types of sins we commit with or without intention today.
Sins of Attitude
These types of sins are very common and are usually easily ignored. Based on what it is called, sins of attitude reflects our manner or emotions towards events or people. These sins are made out of how we react or perceive situations that don’t really hit our standards of what is comfortable. Furthermore, sins of attitude take no action; these are basically just our behavior or thoughts that corrupt our souls.
For instance, if a person were to have a friend who finally became successful in their business after years of working hard. If this person suddenly feels bitter envy towards his friend to the point where he hopes his business would fail after the long run, that person is already committing the sin of attitude.
But, this should not be interchanged with our daily emotions; feeling down after a long day of work is not a sin of attitude. The difference between our usual emotions to this detrimental response depends on how we see the situation. If a person feels down because their boss scolded him, this is normal and is not considered a sin of attitude. But, if this person starts to wish for misery over his boss then, this person is under the influence of this type of sin.
Sins of Action
The sins of action are somewhat the opposite of the sins of attitude though they’re both our reactions to people or situations. Here, a person is actually doing something sinful by tangible action. For example, actions such as stealing, committing actions of sexual immorality, excessive drunkenness, and other acts are sinful, but yet we do them with the knowledge that we’re sinning. These actions are unholy in God’s eyes, and if we continue doing them without changing our lives and hearts, we will be denied into the Kingdom of Heaven (Galatians 5:19 – 21).
While there are many contradictions between what’s deemed as correct with the Lord’s moral standards, any action that opposes what He commands is a sin of action. It must be noted that there are no justifications to sin, what is wrong in God’s eyes is wrong in its entirety (Romans 3:20). Any action against the laws of God is a sin (James 2:10) and many of us are guilty of it.
Sins of Neglect
James 4:17 clarifies how we are ought to do what we know is good and that if we do not comply with this, it is a sin. This verse explains the sin of neglect in full view. Whenever we are faced with an opportunity to do something righteous yet we turn our heads against this, we are ignoring God’s Laws. It can be through actions or thoughts. Whenever we are in a situation where life hands us two options to follow God or not, we usually choose not to for our own sake, and this is negligence from what He has commanded us to do.
For example, if a person is well-endowed with material wealth and is faced in a situation where others around him are in need of help, the God-honoring thing to do is to help them. However, if he turns a blind eye, he is then being greedy, keeping more than he needs while others suffer. Did God not command us to help each other (Hebrews 13:16)?
Sins of Intent
What is the sin of intent? Basically, this type is made through what a person wishes or thinks towards another person. A perfect example of this is Matthew 5:28. There was a man who did not directly commit adultery. But, he knew himself that if he could, he probably would. Again, he is not guilty of adultery but, his intention of committing it is what makes his thoughts a sin.
Philippians 4:8 reminds us to stray away from thoughts like these. It might seem harmless at first but, if we tolerate this, it can sever our ties with the Lord. Whenever we are tested by our ill intentions, we must fight against these with God’s teachings (Proverbs 3:1-4). The more we remember Him at times of being tested, the less likely we are to be drawn into these types of situations.
The Factors of Sins
Simply answering “what is a sin” is not enough to understand what makes it what it is. Depending on the degree of how we look away or “miss the spot” in God’s Ways of righteousness. Here the factors of sins we should look out for:
This factor speaks of how extreme our sins turn out to be. Truly, there is no such thing as a “mild sin” as all sins are unrighteous and equally bad. But, with sin, there are always consequences. Some consequences may be less severe than others depending on the world’s laws. However, the consequences of sin according to God are one and the same, death (Romans 6:23). An example is a comparison between a person telling a lie and a person committing murder. One may seem more severe than the other, but God doesn’t see it that way, a sin is a sin.
Motivation pertains to the intentions behind our sins. Jeremiah 16:12 has made it clear that willful sins are derived from wicked hearts. Going back to the topic of mortal and venial sins, both are sins but, if we were to examine their motives, we can see how these two are apart. For example, not all venial sins are done in full awareness of a person but, the motive behind a mortal sin is done willingly with the full knowledge of a person. The weight of our sins is reflected in our motive or what drives us in committing mistakes before the Lord.
This factor speaks of how often a person commits his or her sins. Hebrews 10:26 warns us about how those who practice sin willfully despite knowing what should be done will face their consequences before God. Without a doubt, the Lord is merciful and forgiving (Ephesians 1:7). However, we cannot insist on committing the same sins and expect righteousness to become the fruit of our actions.
What Is A Sin? : A Call To Repentance
Despite being the perfect God Almighty, the Lord does not expect perfection out of us. Indeed, we are far from perfection yet God constantly expresses His Love by His Words and Blessings. Still, this should not be a sufficient excuse for us to normalize committing sins. We should not offend the Lord. If we commit sins, instead of seeing this as an opportunity for us to justify, we should treat it as a call to repentance and an opportunity to change and seek forgiveness from the Almighty Father.