Time to get those Bibles out again! Last week, we talked about who is guilty of sin: every single man and woman who has ever lived, save Jesus. This week, we’re going to look at just what sin is.
Warning: sin is serious and if we’re striving to live for the Lord, it hurts when we see that something we’re doing or a loved one is doing is what God calls sin. This discussion might hurt, but that does not mean we should buck against God; we’ve already discussed in articles one and two of this series that the Bible is the only suitable foundation out there. Hebrews 4:12 describes the word of God as a double edged sword, piercing to the point of dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. Sounds like surgery, and surgery hurts… but it’s necessary. With this in mind, let us proceed, recognizing that though pain may come, God’s word only seeks our good.
First, let’s talk about categories of sin. Basically, there are two kinds of sin: sins of commission and sins of omission. A sin of commission is something where God said don’t do it and you did it anyway. A sin of omission is where God said do it and you didn’t (James 4:17). Training in what we are to do comes as part of being a disciple (Matthew 28:18-20), so we’ll focus on sins of comission. Sins of commission are what we’re generally familiar with, though there is some dispute about what is and isn’t sin. Fortunately, we don’t have to argue it out; we have God’s word to show the way.
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 6:9,10. In context, Paul is discussing putting our own rights aside for the sake of a brother. Within the discussion, he says that we should not be deceived about who will inherit the kingdom of God and gives a list of those who will not…
The Greek word here is pornos (look familiar?). It describes one who participates in sexual immorality. It includes sex outside marriage, prostitution, adultery, incest, homosexuality and even bestiality.
Idolatry is a slippery one because we generally think of it as bowing down to a golden image of some sort (which is also idolatry), but it’s probably the most common unrepentant sin in America today. Idolatry is putting something above God. It’s putting your wishes, wants, desires ahead of God’s will; it’s loving someone or something more than God. Ephesians 5:5 says someone who is covetous is an idolater. To help you watch for idolatry, ask yourself what the number two priority or love in your life is (we know God is to be number one, Matthew 10:37-39) and periodically check yourself to make sure that number two stays number two.
This is a no-brainer. We know what adultery is: going outside your marriage for sex, or having sex with someone who is married to someone else. Remember, though, what Jesus said in Matthew 5:27, 28: that to lust after someone is to commit adultery in your heart.
If you’re following along in your Bible (if you’re not, you should be), you might have different words here. Some versions translate the first word as “homosexual.” This Greek word refers to passive, consensual, homosexual relations and also applies to a man who acts overly feminine. The second word is sometimes translated “sodomite” (referring to the town of Sodom in Genesis 18:20-19:25) and means homosexual in the way we typically use it. In case you forgot, we are talking about what is sinful in the eyes of God. Here is one of those things that the world says is not wrong, but the Bible says is. We could spend days trying to excuse homosexuality as a sin, but it comes down to this: do you believe God’s word or not? If you do, then homosexuality must be wrong in your eyes as it is in God’s. Are we to persecute homosexuals? No; no more than we persecute or hate anyone guilty of sin (and remember, that’s all of us). But we also cannot condone the practice any more than we can condone murder or adultery.
Another no-brainer. Stealing is wrong and we’ve known it since we were little kids. Shoplifting isn’t a thrill or a high; it’s a sin.
If you’re not familiar with Bible words, this may be a new one on you; it was to me at the start. This word refers to being greedy for more than your share. It’s always wanting that bigger house, newer car, better this and grander that. It’s keeping up with the Joneses. Remember Ephesians 5:5? Covetousness translates to idolatry.
This word isn’t something we have trouble with, it’s accepting that it’s a sin where we have trouble. Getting drunk is a pass-time for some, but it’s not one that someone living for the Lord can choose. What about one drink? Is one drink a sin? Ask yourself this: are you trying to get as close to God as you can or as close to sin as you can?
This is someone who is abusive with their words or their actions, but it’s also someone who is slanderous of others. Our English word comes from “vile.” To speak of someone else in an abusive way—whether to their face or not—is vile in the eyes of God.
I think of pirates as swindlers, but it’s still going on. Some versions say “extortioners.” To extort is to get what you want by force or threats. Sounds like something Wall Street does, but think about it a bit further and you just might see a bit of it in your own life. Ever try to get your spouse to do something by manipulation? Hmm…
God’s word says that none of these people will have a part in the kingdom of God, but this isn’t the whole picture. There are other “sin lists” which are more expansive, such as Galatians 5:19-21 and Romans 1:22-32. Romans 1:32 says that those who approve of these things are guilty as well. Truly, sin is a universal problem. Fortunately, there’s also a universal solution… but we’ll get to that next week!
This series is based on evangelistic studies by Curtis Hartshorn.