Sin, in short, is whatever is contrary to the Law of God, His good design and will.
God is good, and the source of all that is good, so to disregard, reject and rebel against God and His Law is to oppose what is good. Therefore sin is synonymous with evil. Again, God is good, holy, love, the way, the truth, and the life. We, however, given our enmity against God, are evil, unholy, unloving, unruly, unbelieving, and altogether spiritually dead! Although we may appear good and righteous relative to human standards, we all fall short of the glory of God.
All of us sin; mankind is fallen, corrupt and dead in sin. We have separated ourselves from God, and in our shameless audacity crowned ourselves "lords" — an incomprehensible offence. Being evil, we are unable by our own powers to believe in and trust in God. The natural mind has little regard for sin and its consequence, and does not look to God for comfort, life and righteousness.
The cause and types of sin
Sin, or evil, is not from God, but rather the absence of God. It is the result of the devil who rebelled and enticed our first parents, Adam and Eve, who conceded to sin, and so lost their righteousness before God. Through Adam sin came into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. The guilt of Adam is imputed to us, and we have inherited his corrupt nature, being without the ability to fear, trust and love God. We are children of wrath, spiritually blind and dead, and our highest affection is love of self. That is, a desire for things that seem good, agreeable, pleasant and glorious to our nature, as opposed to God's Law, which is truly good. Thus we possess a continual desire to sin and have made ourselves enemies of God.
Out of original sin, or the natural depravity of man, come endless actual sins. This is every action, whether internal or external, which conflicts with the Law of God. We sin in mind, heart and body, by what evil we have done (sins of commission), and by what good we have left undone (sins of omission). Actual sin is the fruit of original sin.
Scripture tends to call all vices sin. Although it does not distinguish between "original" and "actual" sins in these technical terms, it does give names suchs as "crookedness" and "the fruits of sin". Point being, we can think sin in two terms, but they are both truly sin. That is, the root of sin and the fruit of sin are both evil before God and justly punishable. Sin is not only what evil we do, but also what evil we think and desire. To lust in the heart is a sin, even if not acted upon.
Man's entire being is utterly and completely corrupted by sin. When Scripture talks about the works of the flesh, it does not only refer to man's crude doings, but even man's highest and noblest ability. In fact, no other part of man is more truly flesh than man's highest power, his reason, because reason is the proper seat of ignorance and contempt for God, unbelief and all kinds of pride and selfishness.
With regards to man's sinful state, see:
"They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one."
Examples of sin
God, in His goodness, kindness, love and grace commands: "You shall have no other gods." So what does it mean to have a god? It means to trust in and rely on ourselves, or someone or something, for provision, to help us in times of need and to give us good things. Yet, all good things come from God, alone. When we put our trust in anything other than the one true God, we trust in what is false and fleeting. In other words, we seek good where good is not found, and this is evil.
God, in His goodness, kindness, love and grace commands: "Honour your father and mother." This means that we should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honour them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them. Parents and authorities are a gift from God, through whom God nurtures, supports and protects mankind. When we rebel against our parents, pastors, teachers, employers and government, we sin both against our neighbour and God. We are not to hate, look down on, make fun of, deceive, disregard or disobey our parents and authorities. But in all things, obey and serve them with thanksgiving, provided we are not directed to disobey God's Word, in which case, we are obligated to obey God rather than men.
God, in His goodness, kindness, love and grace commands: "You shall not murder." This does not mean murder in a narrow sense, but that we should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbour in his body, but help and support him in every physical need. We are not to neglect the welfare and safety of our neighbour. We should not do, say or wish for anything that harms our neighbour, or hate them in any way. Positively, we must help, serve and defend them in love, kindness and compassion. Furthermore, in gentleness and as far as possible, we are to guide our neighbour in God's truth, that they may learn of God's grace through the person and works of Jesus Christ.
The nature of sin
Sin, to the rational mind, is often thought of as entirely individual and self-contained offences. It could perhaps be compared to the illustration of carrying a bag of rocks, whereby every time you sin, a rock is added to your bag. Once the bag is too heavy, it would weigh you down and you would be unable to get up, unless someone comes to remove the rocks. And in this process, there is a constant adding and removing of measurable rocks. This notion falls short of the depth of sin. All sin is fundamentally the same at its core, for it is rebellion, rejection and hatred of God. So, when we break one command, we break all of God's Law, in all its fullness. James 2:10 says: "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it."
Punishment of sin
The just punishment of sin is worldly suffering, temporal death and eternal condemnation; that is, God's judgment and full wrath — eternal separation from God, which is a most serious, dreadful and severe punishment due to the severity of the offence. The good news is that, even though we are sinners and only worthy of condemnation, we may be reconciled to God through faith in Christ, who fulfilled the Law and suffered the full wrath of the Father in our place. God is righteous and holy in punishing evil, but He is gracious and merciful in forgiving sins. God is good, this is most certainly true.
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