A Multipurpose Word for All Kinds of Evil


Sin is a strange word to use in western culture, largely because we don’t really know what it means. It is not going against the grain of cultural standards (an act of cultural heresy, which we’ll get to later), nor is it making a poor decision. Nor is it even the temptation to defy God and His commands (Matt. 4). It is a deliberate, and multifaceted act:

  • Missing the mark. Sin is falling short of God’s glory and His standards for humanity by our conscious choice to defy Him.
  • Transgression. It is lawbreaking, or transgression, a deliberate act of defiance of God’s explicit commands (Rom. 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:14).
  • Rebellion. Speaking to the heart of our transgressions, the rebellious nature of sin our desire to disobey God—shaking our clenched fists at the One who has made us and shown us the way to life (Isaiah 1:2).
  • Selfishness. Sin is acting out of a selfish attitude, one that assumes happiness comes from doing whatever we think we want rather than obedience to God. It is putting ourselves first, rather than others in love (Phil. 2:3).
  • Idolatry. Our sin is the real world manifestation of what rules our hearts, our worship of someone or something other than God, whether statues of wood or gold, status, security, power, pleasure (Matt. 15:10-20; Jas. 4:1-12).

Do you see how all of these facets of sin all play together?

When we sin, we are always acting in rebellion and selfishness. We’re transgressing God’s commands and falling short of His glory. We do it all because we are, in that moment or in the scope of our lives, worshiping someone or something other than the Creator (Rom. 1:18-25). We think sin will make us happy, in a world that tells us this is true. And while in the moment sin does give us what we need, it’s never enough.

Our desire intensifies with every hit, each one less satisfying than the one before it. And in the end, all we’re left with is guilt, shame, and, ultimately, death (Gen. 2:17).

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