Tuesday, 06 November 2012 00:36

What is Sin?

Written by  Pastor Billy Reinhardt
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What is sin? 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law.”  If sin is “breaking of law,” then what law or whose law are we breaking? Obviously, we are breaking God’s law. Romans 3:23 defines sin as falling short of the “glory of God.” Both passages mentioned here reference not just what I’ve done (I have sinned), but what I’ve done in relation to another, namely, God Himself (falling short of His glory, breaking His law, etc.).


In “The Valley of Vision,” by Arthur Bennett, the writer prays, “Lord, it is the special evil of sin that every breach of Thy law arises from contempt of Thy person, from despising You and Your glory, from preferring things before Thee.”  Oftentimes when we speak of sin we are usually referencing ourselves, such as, “I have failed” or “I have made a mistake” or “I am imperfect.”  All of this is well and true, but sin is more than just about “I”, it’s about God. The prayer above says that “every breach of Thy law arises from contempt of Thy person,” and if this is true, then every time we transgress God’s law it is because we hate God. Sin is less about me and more about God in the sense that it is God who, by His unchangeable, holy nature, defines what sin actually is. Sin will never change because God Himself will never change. Sin is not just about me wanting my own glory, but it’s about withholding glory to God and despising the fact that He gets the glory instead of me. Sin is not just about my love for material possessions, but it’s about loving those material possessions more than I love God. Sin is not just about finding my satisfaction in the things of this world, but it’s about me not finding full satisfaction in Him, whether I have anything in this world or not. Sin is not wrong just because I have offended others, but because I’ve offended God.  Sin is about more than just breaking man’s laws; it’s about breaking God’s laws.

John Piper, from his OneDay 2003 sermon, said that sin is not to “be seen first as damaging man but dishonoring God. And sin would not be seen as the choice of pleasure, but the loss of pleasure.”  Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For My people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned Me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.” We not only turn our backs on God when we sin, but we turn our backs on the only One Who can bring us true joy and we seek, instead, to dig our own cisterns which are “cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.”  We are foolish to think that our way is better than God’s way, yet we make this choice most of the days of our lives.

Listen to John Piper again on defining sin: “What is sin? It is the glory of God not honored. The holiness of God not reverenced. The greatness of God not admired. The power of God not praised. The truth of God not sought. The wisdom of God not esteemed. The beauty of God not treasured. The goodness of God not savored. The faithfulness of God not trusted. The   commandments of God not obeyed. The justice of God not respected. The wrath of God not feared. The grace of God not cherished. The presence of God not prized. The person of God not loved. That is sin.” Notice in this last quote that sin is not just about what I’ve done, but it’s in reference to God and what I have not done in relation to Him.

King David, speaking of his adultery and murder, realized that he had sinned first and foremost against God: “Against You, You only, have I sinned…” (Ps. 51:4a). If we are to see sin in its true and hideous nature, then we must see it as David has seen it, which is primarily against God.


Billy Reinhardt is the student pastor at Mountain View Baptist Church in Wetumpka, AL.  He lives in Wetumpka with his wife, Jessica, and their children, Ruby and Olivia.

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 November 2012 00:43
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