Question 16: What is sin?
Topic: Sin Passage: 1 John 3:4–3:4
Question 16: What is sin?
Answer 16: Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, rebelling against him by living without reference to him, not being or doing what he requires in his law—resulting in our death and the disintegration of all creation.
Whatever became of sin? Sadly, even among Christians, the category of sin is being obscured. Often we have clever ways of renaming sin: drunkenness is an addiction, fornication is a mistake, homosexuality is a alternative lifestyle choice, a lack of emotional self-control is passion, etc. This is, of course, bad, because when sin disappears, so does the sense of one’s need for a Savior from sin and God’s judgment of sin.
Then there is another issue. And it’s this. Who gets to define what sin is? It is all too common today for a man to look into his own heart and declare himself innocent. But our hearts are not faithful mirrors to show us ourselves. Our hearts are easily deceived, especially when it comes to spotting our own faults and sins.
Thankfully we are not without a sure and steadfast standard. God gets to define what sin is, and he does so in the scriptures. So here is our definition again (READ ANSWER).
This definition is really important. Sin is the outright rejection of God as well as the [seemingly] more benign ignoring of God. Perhaps you have heard of the sins of commission and the sins of omission. Sins of commission are sins that we commit in an active way. Sins of omission is where we simply omit or ignore what we should do.
The definition goes on to say that sin is rebelling against God. Sin is rebellion. Let that sink in. Sin is not just making a bad choice. It is a revolt against the authority of God and revolt against his law. RC Sproul in his book The Holiness of God said that even the smallest sin against God is “high treason” against Him. One thing is certain. If we have a small and low view of sin it will impact our view of God, his gospel, and our lives as Christians. It can be the cause (of low view of God), and most certainly is the effect (of low view of God).
It will impact our view of God - who is holy and majestic. We will inevitably adopt a low view of God - in fact, he probably will look a lot like us. We will also have a weakened view of the gospel. The good news will just become just ordinary news. And without a proper view of sin, we will inevitably have a paltry understanding of the life of holiness we are called to live. Ignorance is never bliss. It is good for us to have a biblical definition of sin. This leads to the verse of Q16:
1 John 3:4 - Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.