Have you ever chosen to do something you knew was wrong to do? The Bible calls those wrong actions sin. In a general sense, sin means that when God gives us a law (or commandment), we refuse to do it, which makes us without law, or lawless. "Whoever commits sin commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4).
In other words, the Bible teaches that certain things are wrong, such as stealing. Thieves are counted among the unrighteous (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), who shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Paul says plainly: "Let him who stole steal no longer. . ." (Ephesians 4:29). Stealing is wrong; if we steal, we have broken God's law--we have sinned.
Rejecting Truth is also sin, since the Bible is Truth. One book of the New Testament that discusses the subject of sin is Romans. It is not as though man has never known truth; he has turned away from it and rejected it (Romans 1:18-20). The next few verses show how mankind has treated God and His Word.
God wants all men to know the Truth: that is the reason He gave us the Bible. But if we reject it, He will let us become fools. He will allow us to be blinded by error (things that are not true) and even to be lost eternally (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). He will allow us to be deceived by false teachings. Many have already perished "because they did not receive the love of the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Do you love the Truth?
"ALL HAVE SINNED"
When God chose Abraham and his descendants to be His own special people, there became two classes of people in the world: Abraham's children (who were later called Jews) and Gentiles (people from every other nation in the entire world). In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul shows that both Jews and Gentiles are guilty of sin. The Gentiles rejected Truth and became worshipers of idols; the Jews were given God's holy law. But they did not keep it. Everyone (Jew or Gentile) has committed sin.
Have you committed sin? Of course you have. The above Scriptures make it plain that each one of us chooses to sin. But you may wonder, "What kind of sins are there?" Actually, there are many kinds of sins. A few lists of them may be found in Romans 1:29-32, 1 Corinthians 5:11 and 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 4:26-32, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, and Revelation 21:8. Below are some categories of sins.
There are sins of the flesh. These refer to unlawful ways of satisfying fleshly desires. Included are sexual immorality (having a sexual relationship with someone not your wife or husband), adultery, homosexuality, unscriptural divorce and remarriage, drunkenness, revelings, etc. God wants His people to be holy and pure.
There are sins of attitude, such as pride, envy, jealousy, covetousness, anger, hatred, malice, being unthankful or unforgiving, etc. Some of these are expressed by the tongue, which we are warned to control.
Not only must we NOT do the things that are wrong; we must also do the things that are right and good.
"THE WAGES OF SIN IS . . ."
When we choose to sin, what happens? We lose our fellowship with God. Adam and Eve, in the very beginning of man's existence, lost that special relationship with God when they sinned (Genesis 3). The Old Testament prophet Isaiah told Israel how serious their sins were.
Since God is holy, He can not approve of nor fellowship sin. In fact, He must punish sin. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). What will happen to us if we are guilty of sin when we die? We will be lost. There is a day coming when the Lord Jesus shall be:
. . .revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. . . (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
Every one of us has sinned. All of us have lost our fellowship with God. We all deserve death, spiritual death--eternal separation from God and all His good blessings. We have earned this punishment because of our sins. We certainly do not want to suffer forever, but we deserve it.
But God, the very Holy One we have offended, does not want us to be cast out of His presence forever. Since He is holy and just, however, He must punish sin. He decided that there was a way to save us from our sins. He let Jesus take our place and bear our punishment.
Yes, "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Since Jesus is part of the Godhead, we can understand what Paul meant in Romans 3:26 when he said that God is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 above once more. Do you know God? Have you obeyed the gospel? If not, you are still lost in your sins. The next lesson will tell you how you can be saved through Jesus.
LESSON #3: THE PROBLEM OF SIN