What is Sin?
Many think sin is defined by a grievious act, some despicable crime. Perhaps they think of it in terms of the traditional religious seven: pride, envy, wrath, gluttony, lust, sloth and greed. The main problem with this list and others like it is it focuses on the outward, not the inward. On doing, not on being. What a person does, not who they are.
Sin is actually like when your parent tells you to do something, and you willingly do not do it. That is the real meaning of the word sin, first used centuries ago in reference to archery matches, to say "missed mark". Watch out though. Some would happily explain away the gravity of sin by capitalizing on this etymological fact, arguing that sin is therefore passive, a mistake, a happenstance. But stop to think.
When your father trusts you to clean out the garage while he is away at a meeting, and you decide instead to watch TV, will he not on his return regard that as coming short of his expectations? Hmm? I think so. With a little understandable aggravation. Yes, missing the mark. You were told to do something and you decided not to. Note the presence of the idea of your will, here. Sin is far from the almost helpless, innocent thing called a mistake. Sin is rebellion, plain and simple. Another word is disobedience. It is not an accident, but an exercise of the will, thus open defiance. And this is what makes it heinious before God. God in fact calls disobedience witchcraft. So a good way to look at sin is to replace the word with the word disobedience. We have been so culturalized in Western society to disregard the authority of parents and others over us, that this really has no impact, this idea of disobeying God. So sin is redefined in numerous ways, all of them harmless and guiltless.
Though described in terms of both both a state and an act, sin is actually a state. And out of that state comes the act. In other words, a thief does not become a thief when he steals. His stealing is an outcome of his being a thief. It is his condition. As David said, "All men are liars." He is speaking of a state, not an act. Similarly, he says he himself was conceived in the state of sin. No act even possible there, is there? No. God wants a contrite heart, and Scripture says He is pleased with it.
Where did this state, this condition, come from? Bible believers refer back to the first choice man made to rebel against God, to disobey, to choose his way instead of God's. The Bible says humanity inherited sin, i.e. its rebellious nature, from that first man, Adam. It may seem unjust or illogical that an attitude could be inherited, and that is true. It's not an attitude. It is a state. A state of being. A type of creature, if you will. Before Adam's fall he was one kind of creature, intimate with God, in union with Him. After it he was a completely different creature. It is not for nothing that the Bible says Adam died when he sinned. He did. He died and became another creature. A creature in rebellion, as different and as foreign to what he originally was as could possibly be. (Talk about decisions and their consequences!) And foreign to God's intention for man, thus...sin. Like those sci-fi movies in which one sees changlings. Adam changed, and thus eveyone born from him was changed, different, of the same state and condition as he. You have probably heard this called "original sin."
Don't miss this. Sin is what you are more than it is what you do. It is my state and yours. "For all have sinned and fall short (there it is again) of the glory of God." "The wages of sin is death..." There is that change from one state to another. "But God demonstrates His love toward us, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us." There is the opportunity to become a new creature. "If you confess Jesus as Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Trust Him today.
Pslam 116:11, 51:5, 51:17, Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9