What is Sin? 5 Answers, Only 1 Is Right

Sin is a big word in Christian thought.

Sin, being so important, should be very carefully defined. There are many definitions of sin, some trite and some profound. But each definition carries theological consequences.

Sin is the disease we all need healed. Your mode of healing your sin depends on what you think sin is. Here are a few definitions of sin with their accompanying supposed mode of healing.

Definition of Sin: a violation of human decency
This is morality by vote. Social norms change as people change. Those who believe in evolution believe any change is an upward change. You do things to the extent society is OK with you doing it.
Salvation from this sin is achieved by:
Education. If you really want to do your thing but society doesn’t like it, you need to “raise awareness” for your particular proclivity until society agrees. When they agree with you, then sin is no longer sin and you no longer need healing.

Definition of Sin: Conformity to your group
Society is so big and diverse and changey, it’s better to hole up with a group of people you like and simply become like them. Whatever your group thinks sin is, that’s what sin is.
Salvation from this sin is achieved by:
Conformity. Judging. Legalism. Do what we say and you’ll be fine.

Definition of Sin: being human
Many philosophic and religious traditions have seen human existence as sin itself. Sin is self, the physical, the body. Sin is what we are. If my body were eliminated, so too would sin be eliminated.
Salvation from this sin is achieved by:
Eliminate self. Melt into nothingness. Stress spiritual sentimentalism. This is shown in two ways 1) ignore reality by dropping out, man, or 2) living it up in sin, because, seriously, only what’s on the inside counts, man.

Definition of Sin: violating the Law
By “Law” I mean God’s Law, His revealed will (Violating the laws of your country fits under the first definition–violating human decency). Although this definition is close to being right, it still misses the key aspect of Law. Instead it makes you focus entirely on the checklist and typically results in you ignoring many sins to focus on the visible violations of law you’ll get in trouble for. You become like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.
Salvation from this sin is achieved by:
Keeping the Law! Good luck with that.

Definition of Sin: the opposite of love
Although the previous definition is close, take it to the next step. Love is the fulfilling of the law. Whatever does not demonstrate love is sin. It’s not merely keeping the letter of the law, the list of don’ts, but doing the true heart and spirit of the Law.
Salvation from this sin is achieved by:
The Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the great demonstration of God’s love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. After seeing the love of God, the goodness of God that leads people to repentance, that same love takes root in our heart, raising us up to newness of life in which we show the love of Christ to those around us.

If sin is not understood to be the opposite of love, you will look in all the wrong places for a solution to it. You’ll try every church, every book, every counselor, every path, and get whipped about by every wind of doctrine, always learning yet never coming to the truth.

Love. It’s what The Gospel is all about. For God so loved the world. Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends. Sin, unlove, is what we need deliverance from. When love takes root, sin dies out. The Gospel does this.

The Gospel is the answer to your problem of sin. See the right problem and get the right answer!