What is Sin?

by Pastor Matthew Norville, Sr.


The Bible says, “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4), meaning, “the transgression of the law of God”—not “the transgression of man's law.” Breaking man's law is not necessarily a sin.

The law of God is the Word of God. Sin is transgressing (breaking, disobeying) the Word of God—either the written Word (logos), or the spoken Word (rhema). (Logos is the Greek word for “the written Word.” Rhema is the Greek word for “the spoken Word.”)

The written Word of God is the 31,173 verses contained in the 66 books of the Bible. The spoken Word of God is whatever God may speak to a person on an individual basis. The written Word of God applies to every human being, and the transgressing of (breaking of, disobeying of) the written Word of God is sin. The spoken Word of God applies only to the person to whom God speaks it to. The transgressing of (breaking of, disobeying of) the spoken Word of God is also sin.

A person cannot commit a sin “by accident.” Sinning is a willful act. The Bible says, “Therefore, to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). If a person doesn't know what they are doing is wrong, it is not a sin to them. A person has to know the right (good) thing to do, and then choose not to do it, in order to sin.

As a Christian grows, God will deal with that Christian about things in their life. When God deals with a Christian about a certain thing, the Christian must obey whatever God is telling them. If the Christian disobeys, it then becomes sin in that Christian's life. God does not deal with a Christian about everything that is wrong with their life the day that they get saved! It is a growing process. This explains why sometimes new Christians are all excited about serving God, and they talk about how much God is blessing them, and how all of their prayers are being answered, and then a few weeks, or a few months later, they are unhappy because they are not being blessed like they were, and their prayers are not being answered like they were. The new Christian will often say something like, “But I'm doing all the same things that I was doing the first few weeks after I got saved.” This is usually due to the fact that God has been dealing with this new Christian about certain things in their life, and they have not obeyed God and changed. A new Christian cannot remain the same. (Neither can an old Christian remain the same!) They must grow, and begin to learn, and do all the things that are in the Word of God. If a Christian does not keep growing, they will fall into a state of disobedience, which is sin. Sin separates a person from God so that the person's faith will not work and God cannot hear their prayers.

Isaiah 59:1-2:

“Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.”

Sometimes Christians refer to sins as “mistakes.” A sin is NOT a mistake. A mistake is NOT a sin. A mistake is an error that is committed accidentally. A sin is a willful act of disobeying God. A Christian should never refer to sins as “mistakes.”

Sometimes Christians refer to sins as “faults.” A sin is NOT a fault. A fault is NOT a sin. A sin is a willful act of disobeying God. A fault is a flaw or weakness. In James Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, a fault is defined as, “a side-slip (lapse or deviation); an unintentional error.”

Part of the reason for the confusion about faults and sins is the confusion over James 5:16 which says, “Confess your faults one to another....” The Bible says to confess your faults one to another—NOT to confess your sins one to another.

But the problem comes in because many of the newer translations of the Bible on the market today translate James 5:16 as, “Confess your sins one to another....” These “Bibles,” and even many study helps, claim that the correct translation of the word is “sins,” not, “faults.” Many of these “Bibles” are even translated from Greek manuscripts that have a different Greek word than the manuscripts that were used in translating the Authorized Version (the King James Bible).

“Faults” is the correct translation. The Authorized Version of the Bible was correctly translated from manuscripts that are the Word of God. These manuscripts are called “Textus Receptus,” which means, “The Received Text.” Many, if not most, of the newer translations on the market today, are translated from “corrupted” Hebrew and Greek manuscripts that read differently than “Textus Receptus,” the Word of God.

(more to come)

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This page last updated May 1, 2016.