What is Sin?

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What is Sin?

Postby OzTech » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:16 am

An understanding of the nature of sin is critical to a number of issues we face. Conviction of sin is what causes us (or should cause us) to seek salvation through Jesus. It is what we turn away from once the life of Christ starts to work within us. It is also how many people judge the actions of another.

So... what is sin?

Is it sin to break one or more of the Ten Commandments? Is it fulfilling the requirements of the 312 laws that the Jews live by from the Old Testament? Oh... we are under the New Testament now so do we only have to keep the Golden Rule... love the Lord with all our heart, mind and strength and our neighbour as our self? But then we have other passages within the New Testament that detailing things that we should not be engaged in. Galations 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are..." Is it sin to be immoral, Jealous... to be a sorcerer. Is it sin to have disputes amongst ourselves... to create factions within the church? Has the formation of all the different denominations with the Christian Church been sin? And then there is 2 Tim 3:1-7 or 1 Cor 6:9-11 which could be a couple more lists of would constitute sin amongst Christians. Gal 5:21 also mentions drunkenness. Is it a sin to drink alcohol? What about smoking... is it a sin? I've been at Churches that consider them to be sin.

The classic understanding of what is sin, in the Church and outside the Church, is that it is doing something bad. Is it tied to what we do or is there more to it than just that?

I have been trying to form a simple definition of sin to clarify what actions and attitudes are that of a Christian. We could apply it to our own actions but should not be tempted to apply it to anybody else's... although... people who may consider being naked in public is sin might be able to apply that definition and come to another conclusion.

If we have a simple definition of what is sin then we can also develop an understanding of how to deal with it within our life... or maybe comprehend how the Holy Spirit is changing us so that sin no longer has control over us.
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby Ramblinman » Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:42 pm

OzTech wrote:An understanding of the nature of sin is critical to a number of issues we face. Conviction of sin is what causes us (or should cause us) to seek salvation through Jesus. It is what we turn away from once the life of Christ starts to work within us. It is also how many people judge the actions of another.

So... what is sin?

Is it sin to break one or more of the Ten Commandments? Is it fulfilling the requirements of the 312 laws that the Jews live by from the Old Testament? Oh... we are under the New Testament now so do we only have to keep the Golden Rule... love the Lord with all our heart, mind and strength and our neighbour as our self? But then we have other passages within the New Testament that detailing things that we should not be engaged in. Galations 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are..." Is it sin to be immoral, Jealous... to be a sorcerer. Is it sin to have disputes amongst ourselves... to create factions within the church? Has the formation of all the different denominations with the Christian Church been sin? And then there is 2 Tim 3:1-7 or 1 Cor 6:9-11 which could be a couple more lists of would constitute sin amongst Christians. Gal 5:21 also mentions drunkenness. Is it a sin to drink alcohol? What about smoking... is it a sin? I've been at Churches that consider them to be sin.

The classic understanding of what is sin, in the Church and outside the Church, is that it is doing something bad. Is it tied to what we do or is there more to it than just that?

I have been trying to form a simple definition of sin to clarify what actions and attitudes are that of a Christian. We could apply it to our own actions but should not be tempted to apply it to anybody else's... although... people who may consider being naked in public is sin might be able to apply that definition and come to another conclusion.

If we have a simple definition of what is sin then we can also develop an understanding of how to deal with it within our life... or maybe comprehend how the Holy Spirit is changing us so that sin no longer has control over us.


The Church has never defined sin as "doing something bad".
Bad (or good for that matter) doesn't exist apart from the will of God.
Sin doesn't exist as a distinct individual act. It is a symptom, a manifestation of rebellion from the will of God.

A state of nudity is not an action, much less a sin.
One could be naked by virtue of having been born and there has been insufficient time for someone to wrap the baby in some fashion for warmth or sanitation.
I don't know of any cultures that blame the baby for being born naked. Implicit in such a belief would be condemning God for creating a naked person (billions of them).
One could be naked by reason of severe wind storms or flood waters.
One could be naked unwillingly by the hands of another (theft or sexual crime for example).
It is quite rare these days, but in a few remote corners of the world, poverty is so extreme that parents had no means of providing clothing for their children even as they reach an age when they might otherwise wear clothing.
Few Christians would say that a naked person is sinful when they had no choice in the matter.

Of course there are those who insist that any culture that tolerates nudity is depraved, but let me say:
In some cultures, the climate and culture are such that the baby is left unclothed and even undiapered.
In some cultures, the custom is not to clothe children until they begin manifesting signs of puberty.
In a few cultures, no one ever wears clothes from cradle to grave.
However "savage" that might seem to some, nudity is not sexual, it is simply nudity.
Of course, if you live in a culture of perpetual nudity, you would define people in terms of those who live normally and those who cover their skin for no apparent reason.

Most Christians do not object to nudity if one has a presumption of privacy, primarily to bathe or change clothing.
What if you were camping along a river and were completely alone.
It is a hot day and you need to bathe to prevent salt buildup and prevent rashes.
Someone comes along while you are bathing, even though you had no expectation of being seen naked, you are seen.
Is that a sin? Not by any standard that I know of.

I could give other examples, but I made my point.
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby Jim » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:34 pm

One partial definition from Romans 14.23:
Paul wrote:... anything that is not done in faith is sin.
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby Petros » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:44 am

SO glad we are sticking to the simple questions

Best answer - we are each on an individual path, God assigning and guiding.

As events in the OT tell us - it is sin to kill another. And it is sin to spare another when told to kill.

God tells each of us us - by book or otherwise = what to do, what to avoid. We mishear or disobey or think for ourselves and get it wrong. At which point come repentance and forgiveness and amends.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby Ramblinman » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:39 am

It might be helpful at this point to ask "What is forgiveness?"

I knew a young woman who came down to the altar rail every Sunday to ask Jesus to come into her heart and save her.
I can allow a repeat confession if she had badly misapprehended the concept.

But as Sunday after Sunday passed and she continued to believe that her salvation had departed, someone in her church should have pulled the poor bedraggled girl aside and shown her the path to a form of forgiveness with more lasting results.

If we can understand how complete Jesus' atonement is, how wide his forgiveness, it might benefit our struggle against sin.
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby Petros » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:43 am

One question might be, had she in fact let go of the past enough to let forgiveness in? I am reminded of one who apologized to me - with good cause. Then snapped when I expressed forgiveness, "I do NOT want you to forgive me."
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby Ramblinman » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:11 am

Petros wrote:One question might be, had she in fact let go of the past enough to let forgiveness in? I am reminded of one who apologized to me - with good cause. Then snapped when I expressed forgiveness, "I do NOT want you to forgive me."


Not dealing with certainties here, but your explanation seems the most likely scenario.
But it was pathetic watching her fail to get beyond this.
And yet, there may have been as the lawyers say, "unindicted co-conspirators", in other words a poisonous atmosphere at the church coming from family, companions if not from the institution itself.
An action I take that others dislike may not be sin.
We often hear the admonition to avoid the appearance of sin.
While I think the specific Bible passage may be misinterpreted, in general I like the idea of making some effort to avoid misunderstandings, but I don't want build my life around avoiding controversy or misunderstanding.

To some, a visit to a nude beach or nudist resort would constitute an unwise appearance of sin.
Most of us here know that family style nudist venues are about as wholesome a place as you can find.
And we agree that such a visit to a naturist place would be a good experience for many of our friends, particularly if they get involved on a regular basis.

So, if there is something that we know to be helpful, but is widely misunderstood, we may decide that it is worth the risk of being condemned by those who don't understand, for the greater good of those who will listen and benefit.
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby Petros » Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:45 am

In this area Paul, I fear, seems to dither, caught between two stools.

We are free from the Law - yet we should not do anything that looks like we are not keeping the Law, lest we perturb those who though free from the Law think they are bound by it. Sounds like situations we know.

Ignoring Paul - "much learning doth make thee mad" - if we watch Jesus we see he paid taxes he knew did not apply so as not to rock the boat, but when it mattered he stood up and acted offensively. And that seems to be Paul when he is acting, not talking.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby NudeDude92 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:49 am

Petros wrote:In this area Paul, I fear, seems to dither, caught between two stools.

We are free from the Law - yet we should not do anything that looks like we are not keeping the Law, lest we perturb those who though free from the Law think they are bound by it. Sounds like situations we know.

Ignoring Paul - "much learning doth make thee mad" - if we watch Jesus we see he paid taxes he knew did not apply so as not to rock the boat, but when it mattered he stood up and acted offensively. And that seems to be Paul when he is acting, not talking.


If I might also add, Paul did say that we need to be all things to all people. Not only that, but the change in behavior for certain people (i.e. don't meats offered to idols) was for the benefit of those saved from a particular vice(idolatry), so as not to be a stumbling block, and a hinderance to their Christian growth as they come to slowly understand what God allows His people to do.
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby Ramblinman » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:47 am

Petros wrote:In this area Paul, I fear, seems to dither, caught between two stools.

We are free from the Law - yet we should not do anything that looks like we are not keeping the Law, lest we perturb those who though free from the Law think they are bound by it. Sounds like situations we know.

Ignoring Paul - "much learning doth make thee mad" - if we watch Jesus we see he paid taxes he knew did not apply so as not to rock the boat, but when it mattered he stood up and acted offensively. And that seems to be Paul when he is acting, not talking.


NudeDude92 wrote:If I might also add, Paul did say that we need to be all things to all people. Not only that, but the change in behavior for certain people (i.e. don't meats offered to idols) was for the benefit of those saved from a particular vice(idolatry), so as not to be a stumbling block, and a hinderance to their Christian growth as they come to slowly understand what God allows His people to do.


But Paul clearly stuck his neck out and advocated for the truth of the matter or we would not have it in our Bible. These letters were read publicly to all the churches.
So Paul did not do some controversial things in plain sight without explanation,
but he preached against the the act of rejecting meat sacrificed to idols, he preached against total abstinence from alcohol (in the context of a tainted water supply and few doctors).

And Christians were naked in the public baths in many towns across the empire with their friends and neighbors, both Christian and non-Christian.
This was never forbidden; one bishop merely cautioned believers to refrain from sexual immorality and drunkeness in order to be "salt and light" in their community pools (naked of course).
Who was it who said, "Be in the world, but not of the world"?
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby Quitosam » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:32 pm

i would like to suggest that the first/greatest commandment is the key. Breaking any other law - law of God - is a symptom of failure to obey the first/greatest commandment completely.
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby Petros » Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:42 am

Including when He tells us to go against - apparently - one of the prime directives, as when the people did NOT destroy the enemy.
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby NudeDude92 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:33 pm

Petros wrote:Including when He tells us to go against - apparently - one of the prime directives, as when the people did NOT destroy the enemy.


Yup. That about sums it up.
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby baresoul » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:26 pm

Sin is rebelling against God, it goes against God's will. We won't just agree what such things are, because there isn't real agreement from us to God's will. It does not come naturally, it can be learned only with being submitted to whatever is revealed of God's will. But we are all given a conscience, and going against that, which says there are wrong things, is already sin. What God spoke is showing God's will. The beginning showed God's design, which was perfect, according to God's will. Commandments show God's will. Some of the law given at Sinai was only civil law for the ancient people of Israel, some was just for priests of those people, and ritual cleanliness among them. Such were types of what is fulfilled in Christ, who we need for our priest and for the way to have cleanliness we really need. But what we need for relationship with God and relationship with others, according to God's will for us, is in the commandments. These are for us, and when we know this, to do contrary is sin. And going against Jesus Christ who fulfills what we need, and what he said, is sin. Of course the new testament writers spell out things for that.
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Re: What is Sin?

Postby OzTech » Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:35 am

I've heard sin being defined as "missing the mark". Rom 3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". "Sinned" in Greek is 'hamartano' and Strongs says this about that word: "hamartano - properly to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize), that is, (figuratively) to err, especially (morally) to sin: - for your faults, offend, sin, trespass".

I was going to define sin as 'selfishness' but in considering the matter these past weeks I realised that selfishness is not sin but rather the reason for sin. All other actions that people might call sin are merely the results of sin. Theft... that person selfishly desires what someone else has. Idolatry... a person wishes to have control over others and so creates a god and doctrine that will appeal to the selfishness of the people they wish to follow them. People who want to do things that are not Godly will follow after a idol that permits that selfishness. Fornication... well.. that, obviously, has a selfish element. Essentially all rules and laws within scripture can be seen as a way to curb the selfishness that generate ungodly activities.

'Missing the mark' seems, to me, a more accurate definition because it implies that there is a purpose that man has been created to fulfil and, due to the pursuit of selfish desires, has not been able (or prepared) to meet that goal. If we understand and believe that God has a plan and purpose for each of us then not allowing God to do that work within us or, worse yet, actively doing something that is contrary to that plan and purpose would have to be sin. Obviously God would have had some reason to requiring Adam and Eve to not touch the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and, equally, a reason for placing that tree within the garden but they chose to disobey God.

There is an element also of God having a image that He requires us to be conformed to. We could do all sorts of wonderful things in God's name but unless we are becoming conformed to what God has called us to be He considers it to be the works of iniquity and that sin causes exclusion from heaven. It's like if we have made ourselves into some image we think we should be and it's not what God wants us to be He then does not recognise who we have become. Well... that's what I've understood Matt 7:21-23 to be saying. We need to understand what plan and purpose God has for us.

Oh... one more thing... if we are trying to be conformed to what God wants us to be all by our self then we will end up being something else... the work of the Holy Spirit in us is the only way we can become what God wants us to be.
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