Study 6 Objective: What is sin, and why should the believer avoid it?
Although Satan tempted, Adam and Eve made the choice – the responsibility was theirs. In Psalm 51:1-4 David refers to the fact that, because he was born a human being, he is predisposed to sin. He also
acknowledges his own sins and iniquities.
We all suffer from the collective results of the sins of those who have gone before us to the degree that our world and environment have been shaped by them. However, that does not mean our sin is inherited from them, and that they are somehow to blame.
A discussion about placing blame for personal sin on the “sins of the fathers” took place at the time of the prophet Ezekiel. See Ezekiel 18, and note in particular the conclusion in verse 20: “the soul who sins
shall die”. In other words, each individual is responsible for his or her own sins.
Because we have personal responsibility for our own sins and own spiritual state, repentance becomes individual. We have all sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8), and Scripture urges each of us individually to
repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38).
Paul goes to great length to point out that just as sin entered the world by one man, so salvation is available only through one man, Jesus Christ. “For if by one man’s offence many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many” (Romans 5:15 and see also verses 17 to 19).
The offence of sin is ours, but the grace of salvation is Christ’s.
Being human, often we make excuses for our sins in order to divert responsibility away from us.
What are the common excuses you make for your sins?
Studying words used to describe sin
A wide variety of Hebrew and Greek words is used to describe sin, and each term adds a complementary component to the definition of sin.
A deeper study of these words is available through lexicons, commentaries and other Bible study aids. Most of the words used imply an attitude of the heart and mind.
From the most commonly used Hebrew terms come the ideas of sin as missing the mark or missing the goal (Genesis 20:9; Exodus 32:21; 2 Kings 17:21; Psalm 40:6; etc); of a break in relationship, hence rebellion (transgression/rebellion as in 1 Samuel 24:11; Isaiah 1:28; 42:25; etc);
making something crooked, hence deliberate perversion of something from its intended use (wicked acts as in 2 Samuel 24:17; Daniel 9:5; Psalm 106:6; etc); of fault and therefore guilt (iniquities in Psalm 38:4;
Isaiah 1:4; Jeremiah 1:22; etc); of erring or straying away from the main path or route (see err in Job 6:24; Isaiah 28:7; etc); and also of causing hurt to others ( evil and mistreating in Deuteronomy 26:6; Proverbs
The Greek words used in the New Testament are terms to do with missing the mark (John 8:46; 1 Corinthians 15:56; Hebrews 3:13; James 1;15; 1 John 1:7; etc); with error or fault (trespasses in Matthew 11:25; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13; etc); with breaking a boundary (transgressions in Romans 4:15; Hebrews 2:2; etc); with acting against God (ungodliness in Romans 1:18; Titus 2:12; Jude 15; etc); and with
lawlessness (iniquity and transgression in Matthew 7:23; 24:12;
2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 John 3:4; etc).
The New Testament adds further dimensions. Sin is failure to take an
opportunity to practice godly behaviour towards others (James 4:17). Also, “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).