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What is "sin"?


The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, while the New Testament was written in Greek. It is sometimes important to look at the original definition of a word in its original language. Why? A big misconception is that our Bibles are not translated correctly and therefore, there is a need for additional divine revelation to find out what it actually says. This is false. The most basic way to describe this is that the Greek and Hebrew languages are far more complex than the English language.

For instance: Merriam Webster’s definition of sin is, “an offense against religious or moral law.” We will see that although this definition is correct, it does not encompass the full meaning of the word. There are many free tools available so that you can look up the definitions of words during your study time. Here is one free site that we recommend: https://www.biblestudytools.com/interlinear-bible/

Let’s get started. The Hebrew word for sin is “Khata”. Simply put, Khata means that we fail to fulfill God’s goal for our lives. But, what is God’s goal for our life? In the book of Genesis, the bible tells us that we are all descendants of two people, Adam and Eve. God created Adam and Eve in His image (Genesis 1:27) and they lived in perfect union with God. There was nothing that separated God from man. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God after being tempted by Satan (Genesis 3:1-7), man was separated from God. God’s goal is to bring every human being back into relationship with Himself.

Therefore, sin creates a divide between God and man. As a result of this separation, mankind has unknowingly refused the love of God. Without the love of God, we cannot walk in love, as God intended. We cannot treat ourselves or other people with the love, honor and respect and that was God’s original design.

So, let’s recap. Khata has a two part definition. The foundation of Khata is a failure (on mankind’s behalf) to love God. As a result of this broken relationship, apart from Jesus, we are incapable of loving each other. The end result is a world that is under the rule of Satan for unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). This is why we see so much hurt in our world today. Satan’s goal is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) the plans of God to bring restoration to mankind.

The Ten Commandments was God’s way in the Old Testament to address Khata. Half of the Commandments speak to the importance of mankind’s relationship with God while the other halfspeak to the importance of mankind’s relationship with each other (Exodus 20).

Sin is deceptive. Sometimes we don’t even know we are failing to maintain relationship with God and man. A good example of this is Pharaoh. Pharaoh justified his enslavement of the Jewish people so that he could build his empire. Pharaoh became so deceived that the bible says his heart was hardened. Despite God’s urging for Pharaoh to release the Jewish people from captivity, Pharaoh remained obstinate. Pharaoh’s deception was so great that he caused the death of every first born Egyptian male human being and animal because he refused to heed God’s instruction through Moses.

Another example of how sin deceives us is King Saul. King Saul genuinely believed that he was justified in his endless pursuit to kill David and to continue in his walk of disobedience to God. The story comes to a head in 1 Samuel 15:24, where Saul finally realizes that he was actually walking in disobedience to God.

Therefore, sin is not just about the act of doing bad things. Sin is tangible and it has an agenda. The author of sin is Satan. Satan will use the power of sin to warp and twist your thinking. Therefore, we can find ourselves fully convinced that we are doing the right thing, but in reality we are missing the boat entirely.

When we are freed from sin we reap the bounty of our freedom. The benefits of not being bound my sin are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Any thought, any desire, any emotion can be processed through God. We are then able to walk in peace with God and man.

Peace  Goodness   Patience   Happiness

Joy     Love      Kindness   Self Control Gentleness

However, if we are not freed from the power of sin, our existence looks bleak. We are dominated by self- serving thoughts. We create our own rules which are self-destructive in nature. Matthew 6:24 says, “”No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” A life apart from God looks this way:                                                    

Jealously       Envy   Hatred       anxiety

Anger       Fear       Hopelessness      Depression

 We get further information about what sin is in the New Testament. The Greek word for sin is Hamartia. Hamartia tells us that sin has power and is used by Satan as a weapon in order to deceive mankind and keep the relationship between God and man broken. The Apostle Paul told the Romans that (apart from Jesus) we are slaves to sin (Romans 6:6).  Paul further explains that sin lives within the unbeliever and controls his or her mind, will and emotions. Just one chapter later in Romans 7:15-16, Paul says that sin causes us to do things that we do not want to do.

In summary, sin is a result of the separation of man from God. God is the source of love. We are incapable of Godly love without a relationship with God. Love without God is self-serving and only exists when the relationship is convenient for one or both people in the relationship. The instant that the relationship is strained, worldly love completely collapses.

A life separated from God by sin can be summarized by one word: chaos. A sin-filled person’s internal happiness is dictated by his or her outward circumstances. A God-filled person weathers the storms of life and is not shaken by outward circumstances. Sin is also deceptive above all things. Sin prevents non-believers from the ability to rightly judge whether they are doing good things or whether they are doing bad things.

We hope this deepens your understanding of what sin is. Please look for additional articles from us about how we are set free from sin and what that means to our spiritual and physical well-being.