Some Fundamental Observations about Sin


“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

I have been preaching the gospel for more than 25 years now.  While there are plenty of men who have much more experience than me, I can tell you that I have seen and learned many things about sin during these years.   In this article, I would like to bring to your minds a few observations I had made about sin.

What is sin?  The Greek word for sin (hamartia) literally means to miss the mark (Thayer, Vine’s) or to fail to achieve a standard (Exegetical Dictionary of the NT).  As Christians, we equate sin to a failure to obey God.  This can be either an act of commission (you do something you ought not to do) or an act of omission (you don’t do what you ought to do).  What sin is can be summarized in 3 passages:

·         Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). 

·         Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

·         Do you have faith?  Have it to yourself before God.  Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.  But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:22-23)

However one sins, it is a serious thing in God’s eyes that will result in eternal condemnation unless we repent (Luke 13:3). 

        Having said that, here are some of my observations about sin:


My sinful condition is my own fault.  Contrary to what many teach in the religious world, we do not inherit the sins of Adam or of our parents.  The Bible teaches us that sin is the result of our own conduct.  Ezekiel 18:20 says, “The soul who sins shall die.  The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”  What we do inherit is the consequences of those sins (death, a world that is cursed and filled with sin, troubles and temptation, etc).   Concerning temptation and sin, James tells us, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.” (Jas. 1:14-15)  Notice how in this text, it is the one who gives into HIS OWN desires who sins.  Friends, the first step in resolution of any problem is honest admission of the problem.  And this includes sin. Far too many in our society fail to take responsibility for their own sins and shortcomings.  Until we, like David, say, “I have sinned” WITHOUT any excuses (2 Sam. 12:13) we are not going to take adequate measures to deal with our sins.


Blaming others does not take away my responsibility.  IT is a sad reality that far too many blame others for their own faults and shortcomings. We hear too much today about those who attribute their weaknesses to their upbringing, the society in which they live, their friends, their “natural tendencies” or somebody that has had an influence on their life  (There is a sense of this when one teaches that we inherit the sin of Adam).  While I readily admit that our environment, upbringing and tendencies have a direct influence on what we become and how we will conduct ourselves (if not, why are we expected to raise our children?  Prov. 22:6, Eph. 6:4), ultimately we CANNOT blame our sins upon anyone or anything else.  The very first sin resulted in “the blame game.”  Adam blamed Eve (and perhaps even God) and Eve blamed the serpent (Satan) (Gen. 3:12-13).  And ever since that time, it has been a tool of Satan to convince people to not take responsibility for their own sins.  But here is an observation about the conduct of Adam and Even in passing the blame – God didn’t buy it!  They were still held accountable and faced consequences.   Concerning the environment you are in or the friends you choose or those tendencies that you possess, do you have any control over how they influence your conduct or behavior?  Can the one prone to anger control it?  Can the alcoholic choose to not take a drink today? Be honest! When we blame others, we fail to get to the root of the problem – our sin.  Again read, Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul that sins shall die.


There is no sin I have to commit.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Anyone who has been around knows the truth of this statement. John 1:8-10 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”  We ought to seriously consider this before we declare ourselves without sin.  But having said that, we cannot say that there is ANY particular sin that we have to commit.  Far too many today say that they cannot help it when they sin.  Some even go as far to say they have to sin every moment of every day.  That is nonsense!  You do not EVER have to sin.  Every time you sin, it is your choice.  That was true with Eve and then Adam in the garden and it is true of every sin since that we read of in the Bible.  Is the any example of sin in the Bible that was unavoidable? Did Abraham have to lie?  Did Moses have to strike the rock?  Did David have to look at Bathsheba and everything that happened after that?  Did Peter have to deny Jesus?  (Note: We know he would because Jesus said it, but was he physically forced to deny Him?  If so, why did he weep bitterly after the third denial?)  Did Ananias and Saphira have to lie? In each of these instances, we know better.  And it is true with us as well.  Every day we are faced with choices.  We can choose to obey God or we can choose to disobey Him.  Was that not was Joshua said toward the conclusion of his life? (Josh. 24:15)  Jesus spoke often of choices (Matt. 6:24, 7:13-14, etc.).  The point of this is to understand that when one says he HAS TO sin, it is inevitable.  He has an excuse when he does sin and chances are he will weaken its consequences.    Before you reason that you have to sin, let me urge you to consider 1 Cor. 10:13 and 1 John 3:7-9.


We do what we want to do.  Now, let us get down to WHY we sin.  If we don’t have to sin, but we choose to sin, there must be a reason.  Simply stated, we do what we want to do!  When faced with choices, we always have at least two options (hence the idea of choice).  This is true both in what we choose to do and NOT to do.  Which one will we choose?  If we neglect our salvation, it is because we make a deliberate choice to do so.  If we resist the devil it is because we choose to do so.  Let us never forget that there are both sins of commission and omission.  Both are just as wrong and they are the product of whatever decisions we make.  Some of the saddest examples of sin in scripture are when people had definite knowledge of consequences and they acted contrary to God’s will anyway.  When Ahab went to battle after being warned of impending death if he went he did so for one reason – he wanted to (1 Kings 22).  When the rich, young ruler walked away from Jesus he did so because he wanted to. (Matt. 19:16-22).  This trait applies not only to sin but in choosing to do the right thing (avoiding sin) as well.  I will guarantee you that if you make it to heaven, it will be because you wanted to do what was right and you did it.


Self-control and selfishness are at the root of all sin. I have often wondered if there is any one attitude that is at the foundation of every sin we commit.  I believe there are at least two.  First, when we sin it will be because of a failure to exercise self-control.  As Christians we are expected to have self-control (2 Pet. 1:6, 1 Cor. 9:25-27, Gal. 5:23).  1 Corinthians 7:5 notes that Satan will tempt (and trap) those who do not have self-control.  The bottom line is that we must bring every thought and action into captivity if we are to overcome sin.  When we sin, it will involve a failure to control yourself in one way or another.
    The other trait of every sin is selfishness.  Sin is always a selfish act – you doing something you want to do.  In 2 Tim. 3:1-5 we have a list of sins that I describe as the list of selfishness.  It is a list that has applied to every age of history including our own.  It is described as the last days in which perilous times will come. “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud …” Is there any sin one might commit today that does not fit into at least one of these categories?  If not, then let us learn that the answer to overcoming sin lies in our willingness to train ourselves to totally control our conduct, words and even our thoughts (2 Cor. 10:3-5).  AND, we must learn to totally sacrifice ourselves for the good of God and others (Rom. 12:1-2, Phil. 2:3-4, etc.)


There is much more to be said about this.  In our next article we will notice some other observations about sin including the degree to which one will tolerate sin and the ever important question: What do we do to receive forgiveness of our sins?


It is my hope that as we consider these things we will better understand why we sin and deal with whatever obstacles might stand in our way, so that when our Lord does return, we are ready for that day.  You sinful condition will determine your eternal destiny.  Don’t be found guilty because you chose to neglect His instructions.  Think about it. 





Sin is a subject we can ill-afford to ignore.  We are told in scripture that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23).    Over my years of preaching I have made many observations about sin.  I believe that if we understand these things they can be helpful in dealing with sin. It is with that in mind that I am presenting these articles.

In part one we discussed the following:

·         My sinful condition is my own fault

·         Blaming others will not take away my responsibility

·         There is no sin I have to commit

·         We do what we want to do

·         Self control and selfishness are at the root of every sin


In this concluding article I want to make some more observations about sin.


The degree to which we tolerate sin usually involves a personal connection.  There are many ways that the religious (and not so religious) world tries to minimize sin.  They do it with what I call “comfort doctrines”.  These are doctrines that lessen the consequences or accountability of sin.  Some examples of these doctrines include: “once saved, always saved”, “there is no hell”, “as long as we are sincere”,  as long as we believe in God (or Jesus)  we will be saved, universal salvation, sins of weakness and ignorance will be overlooked, redefining what sin is by manipulating scripture to justify blatantly sinful conduct, etc.  The list seems almost endless.   The problem with such doctrines is that they cheapen accountability, consequences AND God’s grace. 

 The sad reality I have observed is that when one espouses such doctrines it USUALLY means that either they or someone close to them is involved in a particular sin or attitude that they do not want to face or change.   Let us notice a few examples:

·         The one who seeks to justify homosexuality is either struggling with the issue themselves or knows someone close who is.  But that doesn’t change what the Bible says about this subject (Rom. 1:24-27, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, Jude 6-7, etc.).

·         When one seeks to disregard or reinterpret Matthew 19:9 from what it plainly says, chances are there is someone they know who is in an unscriptural marriage.

·         When one seeks to advocate social drinking in spite of the many passages which warn against alcohol (1 Pet. 4:3 describes three levels of drinking, Eph. 5:8, etc.), either they want to drink or they want to approve of those who do (excluding drunkenness of course).  NOTE: This is an example of one seeking to draw a line of how much something is allowed that is questionable at best. You might also want to consider in this Hebrews 5:12-14 which challenges to move on to maturity and the ability to  digest meat (strong teachings including the application of principles).

But even more than examples like these, there are those who simply are not as spiritual as they ought to be.   Some teach that sins of weakness or ignorance will be covered, as long as one is sincerely trying to do what is right.  

·         There are Christians living lives of mediocrity who justify it with minimal acts of worship and a fairly moral life.  They are sincere and might be involved in “minor sins” such a little “innocent” gossip, occasional outbursts of anger, missing worship services for questionable reasons, weak study and prayer habits, engaging in questionable entertainment and questionable modesty, etc.    

·         Others are struggling with some sin that they know is wrong but even though they occasionally slip, they rationalize that they will be fine because they are working on it. But in reality, their efforts to overcome their sins are minimal at best.  In such instances, sincerity trumps truth.

·         Others are involved in sinful conduct that they do not realize it is sinful.  No one has taken the time to show them better and they have not taken the time to learn the truth as they ought to (Note: There is a difference between the “babe” who is just getting started and the one who has been a Christian long enough they ought to know better). 

·         Others justify something because they have good intentions in their conduct.  This is sometimes used to say that it is acceptable to lie in certain circumstances, “the end justifies the means”, etc.   Try telling that to Uzzah! (2 Sam. 6:1-8)

The problem with such reasoning is that it can promote ignorance.  Why learn if “ignorance is bliss?”  And, what sin that we commit cannot be rationalized as a result of weakness.  Now I realize that many who teach this are not denying that one can reach a point of total apostasy that will lead to being lost.  But it doesn’t change what the Bible does and does not say about sin. 

Friends, such loose standards about sin are simply not taught in scripture.  Acts 17:31 tells us that now God commands all men everywhere to repent and that He no longer tolerates ignorance.   Sincerity is NO excuse to sin.   Paul said, “Awake to righteousness and do not sin…” (1 Cor. 15:34).  It was in a context of warning us to avoid evil influences and ideas.  My point in making this observation is that mankind, if he seeks in ANYWAY to justify or minimize ANY sin, will very likely be more prone to such sins, or at the least, tolerate it in others.

Let me be clear.  I do not believe God is in heaven waiting for us to “blow it” so that He can damn us to hell.  He does not want any to perish (2 Pet. 3:9), He is merciful and compassionate, He saves us by grace (ultimately), and none of us will ever deserve His forgiveness.  Our only hope is because of these things.  There are times that we do not give God enough credit or have enough faith to accept His forgiveness.  If you stumble, I am perfectly content to let God be your judge.  BUT to seek to dismiss ANY sin as inconsequential is dangerous.  Chances are if you say anything short of EVERY SIN we commit puts us in eternal danger, you are going to lighten up on the sins you and your friends commit.

This is why we must teach and seek to adhere to strict standards of conduct, even if we are called legalistic or intolerant. Why take chances with your eternal destiny?


You cannot adequately deal with sin until you understand repentance.  Repentance is one of those words highly misunderstood by many.  It is redefined to soften consequences and the need to change.  Like the previous observation about tolerating sin, unless you fully understand repentance, your actions may fall short and you soul still be in jeopardy.  What is repentance?  Simply stated it means to change one mind.  More clearly, it involves a deliberate and decisive change of mind that leads to a permanent change in one’s conduct.  In other words, it is not simply saying, “I’m sorry”.  Before one becomes a Christians, they need to understand repentance (Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30-31,  Luke 13:3, 5, etc.  To be converted means to put to death the man of sin (see Romans 6) and to be “raised to walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).  Too many enter into a relationship with God without understanding the importance of this.

But as children of God, when we do sin, we must also remind ourselves of what true repentance involves.  God is willing to forgive us of our sins even after we have become Christians.  But He expects us to be sorrowful in a godly manner and when we admit our sins to Him (1 John 1:9) He expects us to mean it with the intention of changing.  2 Corinthians 7:8–11 clearly explains this repentance including the depth to which one will go when they truly repent.   For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

One final thought here.  Understanding true repentance is meaningless UNLESS you apply it!


Forgiveness of sins is up to you.  Having examined some observations about sin that leads to one final query: What are you going to do about the sins in your life?   The truth is, it is up to YOU to take care you own sins.  No one else can do it for you.  Peter said to the crowd on Pentecost, “Repent, and let EVERYONE of you be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38)  Jesus said, “Unless YOU repent, YOU will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).  Paul said, “Work out YOUR OWN salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12)

Of course, this does not dismiss the role Jesus and His blood has in your forgiveness.   Romans 5:8-9 tells us Christ died for us and, “Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Hebrews 9:26 says, “but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  

We come in contact with that blood initially through obeying the gospel which is culminated in the act of baptism (Romans 6:3-4, Gal. 3:27).  We continue to be cleansed by His blood when we confess our sins and repent (1 John 1:7-9, Acts 8:22).  It is up to us to ensure that we are right with Him. 

In these articles, I have given some of my observations about sin.  It is my hope that when we understand these things they will provoke us to strive to live our lives as close to God’s standard as we can possibly do.  That does not mean we will not sin from time to time.  To deny that sin has its consequences  (1 John 1:8, 10) is foolish and dangerous.  But my point is, that when we do sin, don’t trivialize it!  TAKE CARE OF IT!