what is sin?
As eluded to in our summary discussion of God's nature, to
'sin' is to ignore or diminish God's nature. We do
this most often by placing our own nature in the place of
God's. We become more important to ourselves than He is to
The concept of sin is related to the Fall of Adam. Some consider Adam's Fall to be the cause of sin, others consider it as symbolic of what man has done and is doing. In essence, sin is the 'leaving out of God, and regarding the world as an entirely human enterprise.' Our pride and self-love causes us to ignore the fact that we are creatures of God, and regard ourselves as the masters of our destiny. The clearest evidence of this is in the words Satan used to tempt Eve:
"...when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God..."
We can also see in the Epistle to the Romans, how the lack of focus on God is the 'primary sin', to which all other sin flows out of:
There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit; the poison of vipers is on their lips, their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways; and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes." Romans 3:10b-18
This 'primary' sin causes us to commit 'secondary' sins such as losing perspective of values, causing moral depravity and a general tendency toward evil. In other words, these 'secondary' sin's are the result of the original sin, which is the displacement of God as the center of being, being replaced by ourselves and our own devices. It is these secondary sins that most people focus on, to the detriment of the true cause of them. With this perspective, it is clearer to see how simply 'not sinning' will not bring us to God.
God commanded us to "Be ye Holy, as I am Holy." (1 Peter 1:16.) If we are not, if we degrade His position as sovereign of all creation (including ourselves) we have destroyed the standard of holiness and cannot commune with our Father. We have in effect chosen our own desires over those of the Father, and in doing so created a chasm between us that cannot be crossed, because by nature Holiness cannot combine with un-Holiness. So sin is perhaps best thought of as a separation:
“Beyond the borders of the Christian community, many words have lost their meaning. Consider for a moment the word ‘sin’. Although there is a debate about the derivation, it seems probable that the English word ‘sin’ is connected etymologically with the verb ‘sunder’, so that originally talk about ‘sin’ referred to a situation characterized by ‘separation.’ The word is today commonly used in the weak sense of a ‘misdemeanor’, and there is a tendency nowadays to contrast ‘sin’ with ‘crime’.” John MacQuarrie; Studies in Christian Existentialism; pg 128
Again, most of us think of those 'secondary' sins when asked to describe sin...those things we do or don't do, like lying or stealing or murdering. But the real 'sin' which is the cause of all those 'secondary' sins is the sin of separation from God and His Holiness and plans. Knowing this, it is clear to see the consequences of sin:
Separation from God - The tremendous problem of sin is magnified when we realize that we can never reconcile the separation...once we have been stained with un-holiness we can never get un-stained.
"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; our sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." Isaiah 59:2
"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way..." Isaiah 53:6a
Death - When we realize that the meaning of life is to be reconciled to our Creator, we can see that separation from our Creator is the meaning of death. If we have no hope for reconciliation, we have failed in our purpose of life.
"Because you...ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'...you (will) return to the ground...for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:17b, 19b,d
"But all sinners will be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be cut off." Psalm 37:38
"...each is to die for his own sin." 2 Kings 24:16
"For the wages (payment) of sin is death..." Romans 6:23
A proper understanding of the concept of sin will drive us to ask an important question:
This is the question that Christianity answers!!