What is Sin? How Can You Sin Less?

By COGwriter

What is sin?

Is there a biblical definition?

Is this important to know?

Should you teach your children about sin?

Are there consequences to sin?

Many people seem to be confused about what sin is.

Many act like they can define it.

Yet, it is God, and not humans, who defines sin.

A related sermon is also available: Let's Talk About Sin: What is It? Should You Hate Sin?

What is Sin?

The late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

The World's Definition.

The way to act and live that gives those who dare to do it increased pleasure, fun, good time, enjoyment. The "forbidden fruit" that is sweeter, more desirable. The concept, though unrealized, is that God is unjust and unfair, forbidding us really to enjoy life.

As a consequence, sin is the desirable way forbidden, or at least frowned on, by respectable society under religious influence. If sin is to be enjoyed, it must be in secret unless one is to defy society or be branded with disgrace — or so it used to be, though society today is becoming broader minded, more tolerant of sin, permitting more and more what previous generations forbade. This concept was aptly illustrated by the death-bed confession of an atheist. His daughter came to his bed-side and asked: "Father, now that you know you are going to die, tell me the truth. Which do you now think is best — your atheism or Mother's Christianity?"

"Well daughter," the dying man replied. "I still believe my way is the best way to live by, but I'll have to confess at last that your mother's religion is the best to die in." There's the common conception. People unthinkingly have a picture of a God who is unfair — who expects people to give up the worth-while things of life, deny one's self enjoying life, and live a life of unhappiness in order to be "saved."

And according to this view the way to cheat God is to live in sin and enjoy life, then squeeze through at the last minute by a death-bed confession! This concept is Satan's masterpiece delusion, fastened on an unthinking world! It pictures the god of Herbert Spencer's distorted imagination — a monster, who "saves" people through FEAR of penalties unless they forsake more desirable ways for his narrow and unhappy way. It hides God's love, turns God's law of love into an evil thing, cheats human beings of the happiness, peace, success and joy that could be theirs through a discernment of the TRUE values! ...

the world ... Deceived as to right and wrong, it does wrong, and then wonders why it is so unhappy — why there's so much suffering in the world today!

GOD HELP US TO DISCERN THE TRUE VALUES FROM THE FALSE! God has revealed the right and the TRUE way! (Armstrong HW. TWO DEFINITIONS of sin. Plain Truth, April 1950)

Yes, the world often wants to live the wrong way.

It does not want to consider the reality that some actions are sinful.

What is sin?

Here is how the Bible defines it:

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

4 Whosoever committeth sin commmitteth also iniquity; and sin is iniquity. (1 John 3:4, DRB)

4 Everyone  who  sins  breaks  the  law  and  in  fact,  sin  is  lawlessness. (EOB New Testament)

4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4, KJV)

What law?

God’s law, which is in His word (cf. Psalm 119:11), and that includes the Ten Commandments (cf. 1 John 2:3-4; Psalm 119:172; see also the free book, available online at www.ccog.org, titled:The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast).

Although no one has been forced to sin, the Bible teaches that all have sinned (Romans 3:23).

Sin is destructive.

Why do humans sin?

Well, for the same reason that Eve and Adam sinned. They were deceived by Satan and/or their lusts.

Satan has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). He has used every evil thought he could to influence and deceive all of humankind. Satan has broadcast his philosophy far and wide (cf. Ephesians 2:2) — appealing to vanity, lust and greed to influence us.

Notice the following from the late evangelist Leroy Neff:

Each of us has been tuned into this deceitful bombardment from an early age. Satan has used this method to insert wrong thoughts, and he uses the environment and circumstances to influence us to make wrong decisions just like Adam and Eve did.

When we were born, we had no hatred or animosity against God or His perfect way. We didn't even know that God existed, or that He had a right way for us to live. But in due time we, too, developed the same attitude as Satan, of selfishness, of greed and lust, and of wanting our own way.

When we were little children, we may have been like those that Christ spoke of (Matthew 18:3, 4). They were humble and teachable — not yet fully deceived by Satan and his society. …

All human woe, unhappiness, pain and misery have come as a direct result of sin — the violation of God's spiritual and physical laws. Happiness and a full abundant life are the automatic results of obedience to God's Law. (Neff L. All About Sin. Tomorrow's World Magazine. April 1972)

And while Jesus died for all our sins, sin has a cost. And the long-term cost is that it negatively impacts the sinner and one’s potential to do even more good. So, do not think that sinning now is good for you (or others), but hopefully all will learn lessons from their sins (cf. 2 Peter 2:18-20), confess them (1 John 1:9), and repent of them (cf. Act 2:37-38).

Thousands of years ago, Solomon was inspired to write that humans were NOT made to sin:

29 ... God made man upright, But they have sought out many schemes. (Ecclesiastes 7:29)

And even today, humans choose to go the wrong way--they often follow improper schemes.

Mystery of God's Plan and Lawlessness

The Apostle Paul wrote:

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him. (Ephesians 1:7-10)

Notice that God’s will is a mystery to most (those not now called), essentially until the dispensation of the fullness of times --which will come for most after a prophesied resurrection. But also notice that forgiveness of sins is part of the plan.

Yet, God long ago laid out many aspects of His plan:

11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations. (Psalm 33:11)

18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. (1 Peter 1:18-20)

8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him {the beast}, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

The fact that the Bible says that the Lamb, meaning Jesus (cf. John 1:29, 36), was intended to be slain from the beginning shows that God knew humans would sin and He has long had a plan.

The prophet Isaiah was inspired to record this about the certainty of God’s plan:

8 “Remember this, and show yourselves men; Recall to mind, O you transgressors. 9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,'  11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. (Isaiah 46:8-11)

11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations.  (Psalm 33:11)

God’s plans will come to pass.

Consider also the following:

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:16-17).

Now that we see some of God's attributes, such as He is good, is a planner, and is love: this should help us better understand Him and His basic motivations as to why He made anything.

The late Herbert Armstrong wrote:

The PASSOVER pictures the DEATH OF CHRIST for the remission of sins that are past. The accepting of His BLOOD does not forgive sins we SHALL commit — it does not give LICENSE to continue in sin — therefore WHEN we accept it, our sins are forgiven only up to that time — PAST SINS.

But shall we stop there? Past sins forgiven. But we are still flesh beings. We still shall suffer temptations. Sin has held us in its clutch — we have been SLAVES to sin, in its power. And we are powerless to deliver ourselves from it! We have been in BONDAGE to sin. Let us understand the picture — the meaning. Quitting sin utterly To what extent shall we put away sin? Not partially, but COMPLETELY! And, as leaven is also a type of sin — leaven puffs up, and so does sin — and, as SEVEN is God’s number symbolizing COMPLETENESS, we are to follow the Passover with the seven Days of Unleavened Bread! The picture — the meaning — the symbolism, is not complete with Passover alone. Passover pictures the acceptance of Christ’s blood for the REMISSION of past sins. It pictures the CRUCIFIED — the DEAD — Christ.

Shall we leave Christ hanging on the cross? The seven Days of UNLEAVENED BREAD, following Passover, picture to us the COMPLETE putting away of sin, the KEEPING of the Commandments — after past sins are forgiven. They picture the life and work of the RISEN CHRIST — who ascended to the throne of God where He is actively at work in our behalf as our HIGH PRIEST, cleansing us of sin — delivering us completely from its POWER! To observe Passover alone, and then fail to observe the seven Days of Unleavened Bread, means, in the symbolism, to accept Christ’s blood, and to continue on in sin — to say with the Sunday churches the LAW is done away, we are under grace, meaning license, to continue in sin! The seven Days of Unleavened Bread picture the keeping of the Commandments, which is another way of saying the putting away of sin.

And, as Rome’s followers have the MARK of the BEAST in their right hand and forehead, so God’s true Church is to have these feast days, the first of which is a MEMORIAL picturing deliverance from sin, in OUR right hand and forehead, as God’s SIGN, in order that we shall KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. And since the forehead is the seat of the intellect and symbolizes ACCEPTANCE, and the right hand symbolizes WORK, we have this SIGN OF GOD thereby accepting this truth about the Holy Days and Days of Unleavened Bread, and by NOT WORKING on these Holy Days! Not only is the weekly Sabbath God’s SIGN (Exodus 31:12-17) but annual Sabbaths are SIGNS as well! (Armstrong HW. What You Should Know About the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread. Good News, March 1979)

While most who profess Christ these days realize His death was connected to Passover, they do not keep the biblical Passover, nor the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Because of improper teachings and traditions, many do not recognize sin in this age.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

7 For the mystery of lawlessness is working already; there is only the one at present restraining it, until he might be gone out of the midst. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the breath of His mouth and will annul by the appearing of His coming, 9 whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in every power, and in signs, and in wonders of falsehood, 10 and in every deception of wickedness unto those perishing, in return for which they did not receive the love of the truth in order for them to be saved. 11 And because of this, God will send to them a working of delusion, for them to believe what is false, 12 in order that all those not having believed the truth but having delighted in unrighteousness should be judged. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, Berean Literal Bible)

Part of the “mystery of lawlessness” (“mystery of iniquity” DRB) is that many have not been taught that truth about sin and/or have been taught to reason around God’s laws like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time and instead accept improper traditions (cf. Matthew 15:1-9). Those without sufficient love of the truth will be cruelly deceived as we get closer to the end of this age.

Paul wrote that those who will believe the lie from the lawless one (the Beast of the Sea of Revelation 13) are condemned because they “did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Since all of God’s commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172), these are those who are not keeping the commandments of God.

The Apostle Paul reported that the “mystery of lawlessness” had already begun in his day (2 Thessalonians 2:7) and that people should not be deceived “with empty words” to get them to disobey (Ephesians 5:6). That “mystery” is manifested by the Greco-Roman-Protestants when it comes to many aspects of God’s laws, like the Ten Commandments (they reason around them). 

The true Church of God upholds God’s law (1 John 5:1-3). It teaches that God set in motion laws, that if obeyed, would bring humanity much good, including abundant well-being and a productive full life.

Consider that revelation comes from the Bible and people are happy who keep His law.

18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law. (Proverbs 29:18)

The Bible reveals that keeping God’s commandments brings understanding (Psalm 111:10) and happiness (Proverbs 16:16) to those that trust Him.

The true Church of God proclaims that God’s law is not done away, but has been “exalted” and made “honorable” (Isaiah 42:21) and expanded by Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:17-48).

Yet, many who profess Christ want to believe the lie that the Ten Commandments are done away and/or do not mean what they say because of false traditions of men as well as wrong translations. Those who love the truth will not rely on those lies, but what the word of God really teaches.

The true Church of God teaches what the Bible teaches:

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

172 My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness. (Psalm 119:172)

The true church teaches that God’s Ten Commandment law is one of His greatest gifts to humankind and that His commandments are righteousness. Keeping them reflects love. “Now the purpose of the commandment is love” (1 Timothy 1:5).

Well, recall that Adam and Eve sinned when they took of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Thus, not all that they learned was evil, but also some good.


6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6-7)

Yes, Eve thought sin had benefits and wasn't so bad, so she acted. Satan appealed to her pride.

Satan is not much of an original thinker in the sense that what works in one generation tends to work in others. Satan has long used pride and similar temptations throughout history.

The Apostle Paul warned:

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)

Not having faith is also a sin. Related to that and the Holy Spirit, Jesus stated:

8. And when that one has come, it will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment: 9. Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; (John 16:8-9, AFV)

Also, be careful about how you judge. Jesus warned:

24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24)

Today, the world’s churches appear to do some good. Many people have given their lives to promote what they felt was right. Many have tried to serve others. Often the clergy makes statements that are good or at least seem to be good.

That is part of why this is the MYSTERY of iniquity. If it was always clearly bad, people would tend to recognize that. But when good and bad are mixed together, this is harder for most to see.

Some believe that casting out demons, speaking in tongues, apparitions, various wondrous signs are the proof a church is true. But that is NOT what Jesus taught:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Notice that despite the claims of mainly Protestants, simply calling Jesus ‘Lord’ is not sufficient. The word translated as lawlessness is the same word anomia that this article previously pointed to. Notice that God rebukes those that err from His commandments:

21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments. (Psalm 119:21, KJV)

Notice something that Jesus warned about:

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:12-14)

Notice that lawlessness, from the Greek word anomian, will abound in the time of the end. The love of many waxing cold seems to be a reference to the Laodiceans--they tend to think because they keep the law (and society is going further away from it), that they are fine--but they are not according to Jesus (Revelation 3:14-18). The Laodiceans are not truly supporting getting the witness of the gospel of the kingdom out--their hearts are really not in it--they are not opposed to it, but are not hot (they are lukewarm) about it.

Very few moderns understand the mystery of lawlessness, though a thorough search of scriptures (Isaiah 28:10-13) will help explain it (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The “mystery of lawlessness” is related to professing Christians who believe that they do not need to keep God’s Ten Commandment law, etc. and/or there are so many acceptable exceptions to it and/or there are acceptable forms of penance to break God’s law, so while they think they have a form of God’s law, they are not keeping a form of Christianity that Jesus or His apostles would recognize as legitimate.

Many of the Greco-Romans are like the Pharisees who violated God’s commandments, but claimed their traditions made this acceptable—Jesus denounced that approach (Matthew 15:3-9)! Isaiah also warned that people claiming to be God’s would rebel against His law (Isaiah 30:9). This is something we, sadly, see to this day.

This “mystery of lawlessness” was “already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7) when the apostles were alive. This is also related to something that the Bible warns against in the end times that is called “Mystery, Babylon the Great” (Revelation 17:3-5).

It is a mystery to the Protestants because they normally officially do not believe that they need to keep the law (see also the free book Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism). Many Protestants tend to claim Jesus ‘fulfilled the law’ and ‘nailed it to the cross.’

Protestants tend to believe that if they ‘love Jesus’ that is how they are keeping the law. But those that believe that have deceived themselves:

3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6)

Lawlessness is a mystery to nearly all who consider themselves Protestant. Also, since many Protestants have historically believed that since a pontiff will be the final Antichrist, the references to the mystery of lawlessness is not something they believe relates to them.

It is a mystery to the Greco-Roman Catholics (the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics) because they officially believe that they actually teach the Ten Commandments, thus they do not believe that they teach lawlessness. Many of them tend to believe that is what the Protestants do, hence they feel that if this reference has to do with Christianity, it relates to Protestantism. They fail to realize that because of their ‘traditions’ they reason around them, as do Protestants that claim that they keep the Ten Commandments. For details, check out the free online book: Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast.

Over time, more and more in the Greco-Roman churches considered exceptions to God’s laws as normal and acceptable. They taught penance, not repentance. Notice something from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1459 ... Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must "make satisfaction for" or "expiate" his sins. This satisfaction is also called "penance." https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c2a4.htm

But you CANNOT PAY THE PENALTY FOR YOUR SINS. Do not think you can--only truly accepting the blood of Jesus does that. Jesus, not you, is the atoning sacrifice:

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26)

Christians are to acknowledge and confess their sins and have faith that Jesus will forgive them.

Yes, even YOURS. All sin:

20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

Notice also something from the Apostle John:

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

No, doing penance after confession is not a biblical requirement. The Bible teaches, repentance--turning away from sin, not penance--which is trying to pay part of the penalty through human action.

The Apostle Peter taught the following:

38 ... Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, ... (Acts 3:19)

9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV)

9 The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9, NJB)

God is not trying to bring us to penance--to essentially intentionally inflict punishment on ourselves for sin--but to repentance--changing from following the influence of Satan to following Him.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22-23)

Getting back to Paul himself, he continued to keep God’s laws (Acts 25:8). Jesus did (John 15:10) and Paul taught to imitate him as he imitated Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).

The mystery of lawlessness/iniquity is that the religious Greco-Roman-Protestants-Jehovah’s Witnesses reason around many of God’s laws and commandments, yet still think their faith is fine.

While many go that way, Jesus warned that would happen (Matthew 7:13). He taught that few (called a “little flock” in Luke 12:32) would go the right way (Matthew 7:14).

The mystery of iniquity is practicing a false religion that looks good to Satan and various others, but not to God.
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

The truth is that the Bible teaches that true Christians keep the commandments (Revelation 12:17; 14:12).

Hating Sin

Do you minimize the damages of sin?

Or do you dismiss your sins because you believe you sin so much less than certain others?

Well, the Pharisees of old did that:

10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:10-14)

Notice the following:

Here was a man who had committed no "great" sins. At least he didn't think so. Whatever sins or faults the Pharisee had, he certainly did not consider them to be as evil as those in other people. In fact, he prided himself on his obedience to God's laws. He was SURE that he was righteous before God. ...

What was the difference between these two men? Although the publican had committed serious sins, be was repentant — he wanted to change and to overcome.

But the Pharisee blinded himself to his sins. In his sight he had never done anything wrong. He had the attitude, "I'm all right, Jack." Therefore, in his own mind, his faults had ceased to exist at all.

Through self-righteousness the Pharisee had fallen into the trap of thinking that the sins of other people were worse than his. By comparing himself with them he seemed pure. "After all," he probably thought to himself, "I haven't committed the horrible sins these others have!"

As a result, he never comprehended his own total wretchedness in the sight of God. There is a great lesson in this parable for us, today. Are we modern-day Pharisees? Do we seek to justify our sins by comparing ourselves with others and concluding that we aren't so bad after all? (Walker L, Do You Hate Sin? Good News, January-April 1971)

The Bible teaches, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” (James 1:16).

Yet, we humans tend to deceive ourselves (particularly with Satan’s influence)--the Pharisees did that.

How Does GOD Look at Sin?

It is obvious that certain sins hurt people more than others. Adultery, for example, clearly inflicts greater and more lasting damage to more people than forgetting an appointment.

On the other hand, we must realize the evil of what many people may consider to be "small" sins. After all, sin is sin — wrong is wrong — evil is evil, no matter what the degree. To ask which of two sins is worse is about like asking which was more sinful — Sodom or Gomorrah?

Regardless of how "minor" or "small" men may think some sins are, God says: "For the wages of sin is death..." (Rom. 6:23). That's death in the lake of fire! No sins, therefore, should be trifled with, tolerated, or secretly harbored. The ultimate penalty for ALL sin — whether large or small — is the same: ETERNAL DEATH!

That some sins exact an immediate penalty is clear. But the damage done by some "small" sins over a period of time can also be devastating.

To compare one's own sins with those of other people, to minimize one's own sins, and in the process to seek justification for them is exceedingly foolish and spiritually dangerous! The Apostle James warns: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he IS GUILTY OF ALL" (James 2:10). Our attitude as converted Christians should be to seek out and eliminate every sin — every wrong thought — every evil way. We should not be hanging on to our "small" faults just because they do not seem to be as serious as certain obviously great sins. (Walker L, Do You Hate Sin? Good News, January-April 1971)

Regarding comparing ourselves, notice something from the Apostle Paul:

12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12-13)

People have a tendency to accept and justify their own sins.

Don't Compare Sins!

Christ exposed more of the true colors of the Pharisees in Matthew 23: "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in... ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess... within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity... ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell [gehenna]?" (Matt. 23:13, 25, 28, 33.)

If you are tempted to compare sins, then ask yourself this question: Which was worse — the sin of extortion (as perhaps with the publican) or the sin of being responsible for preventing someone from entering the Kingdom of God — causing them to lose out on salvation and eternal life?

Put that way, the Pharisee's sins did not compare very favorably with the publican's, did they? Actually, no sin should minimize any other sin. Sin is sin — and all sin results in DEATH!

It is beside the point whether or not your sins seem as great as your neighbor's. You may bay you haven't murdered anyone. Fine. That's good.

But do you occasionally tell lies? If so, that is the sin which you need to repent of. If you don't repent of it, it will claim your life just as murder will claim someone else's life. We must not allow ourselves to think that the sins other people commit somehow diminish the seriousness of the sins we commit.

Overcome your sins and faults and let God deal with everyone else. Follow the perfect example of out Saviour Jesus Christ. His should be the only standard for comparisons. (Walker L, Do You Hate Sin? Good News, January-April 1971)

Most do not realize the extent of our tendencies to stray.

But Satan does and is interested in taken advantage of your weaknesses and pride:

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Resist Satan. He is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and has got the majority to go the wrong way. Do not follow the world to do wrong. The Bible teaches:

2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil (Exodus 23:2)

Just because "everyone's doing it," does NOT make something right.

Jesus, Himself, taught:

13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Most go the wrong way.

The Apostle James explained the following about temptation and sin:

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (James 1:12-15)

In order to resist temptation, to get a wrong thought out of your mind that enters it, fill your mind with good thoughts (Philippians 4:8) and turn to God.

What better thoughts are there than those about God and His Word? If you properly resist Satan, the Bible says he will flee (James 4:7).

Resisting makes you spiritually stronger, while indulging in sin makes you weaker.

Sin helps show, for those who are willing to believe, that we need God and His ways.

Some people think telling lies, particularly what they call "white lies" are fine, particularly if they think no one is getting hurt.

But is that God's attitude?

Lying is always a terribly serious sin! Why? Because lying reveals a fatal flaw in character — a fatal defect.

Lying is deception.

Lying can reflect an attitude of hate, disrespect, selfishness, and even murder.

Satan is spoken of in the Bible as a "murderer" and the "father of lies" (John 8:44). A liar has no real character. He cannot be trusted. He is absolutely undependable.

God certainly does not consider lying a "small" sin. In fact, He says: "... ALL LIARS, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8, also 22:15).

Lying is a sin so serious in God's eyes that He has set death as its penalty! (Walker L, Do You Hate Sin? Good News, January-April 1971)

God understood about the influence of Satan’s deception, as well as human lusts, and developed a plan of salvation that takes that into account (for more details on that, please check out the free online book: Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation).

What type of person are you? Are you shocked and moved by the SIN that exists in the world today?

The violence, the crime, the pornography, the wars, abortions, racial bigotry and conflicts? HOW do you feel about the conditions that constitute our society today? Do you think sin isn't really so bad, after all?

The Church at Corinth well illustrates a point. In I Corinthians 5 the Apostle Paul writes about a man in the Church who had committed fornication. He also rebukes the other members of that Church for their attitude toward that sin. "And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you" (I Cor. 5:2).

On the other hand, the Prophet Ezekiel describes those whose attitude toward sin is entirely different: "And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem and set a mark [for their protection and salvation] upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof" (Ezek. 9:4),

The Corinthians weren't sighing and crying for all the abominations done in the city of Corinth, which was notorious throughout the entire Roman Empire for its sexual licentiousness. The Corinthians in the Church had grown up in that society. They tended to take it for granted. They tended to "co-exist" with the heinous sins around them. We today live in a society very much like that of Corinth — and in many respects even worse. And we, like them, have become hard to shock. We have seen too much violence and bloodshed on television — too much of Vietnam. Most people aren't revolted by open displays of perverted sex and/or nudity on the stage, cinema and television. And we have come to regard the taking of drugs almost as commonplace as drinking beer. (Walker L, Do You Hate Sin? Good News, January-April 1971)

Since that came out, various ones want abominations that the Bible condemns (Leviticus 11:1-42, 18:22, 20:13) embraced or at least accepted.

The Bible teaches not to do that:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, ... 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32).

Instead of condoming it, sin is to be denounced:

1 "Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1)

We are to avoid and not accept sin.

What's So Bad About Sin?

What's So Bad About Sin?

Why does God classify some actions as wrong and others as right? Why is it wrong to commit sin? Did God just arbitrarily decide that some actions would be classed as sin? Did He say to Himself: "We've got to have some things that are wrong, so I'll just choose some nice, tantalizing, exciting things and they can be sin. Then anyone who gets caught doing those things can be put to death"? Is that how sin came to be sin? Is it only sin because God says so? And could it be that these things we call sin are actually good for us, but God somehow doesn't want us to have them? It simply is not rational to believe that a God who created this earth with all its beauty and harmony, and with laws which have a clear cause-and-effect relationship, would institute spiritual laws merely as some type of mental exercise.

If sin is so bad as to warrant the death penalty, then the reason ought to be revealed in the Scriptures. There ought to be an obvious, cause-and-effect relationship between sin and death. Notice what one of the most important "sin" scriptures teaches us. It states that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23).

Wages are something we earn. In this passage wages are contrasted with God's gift, which is eternal life. One thing we earn, the other we are given. The effect — what we earn as our wages — is death. The cause is sin. No arbitrary penalty for sin is so much as hinted at in this scripture. Take a look at another well-known passage — Galatians 6:7-8: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption...." Again, a simple cause-and-effect relationship! What you sow grows until it finally brings forth what you reap. ...

Let's understand what occurs when a person breaks God's law. God warns, "The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of fools shall destroy them" (Prov. 11:3). Does perverseness — living contrary to God's law — destroy people because God inflicts a penalty, or is it an automatic, built-in result?

Listen to what the Apostle Paul has to say: "And the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze (burned out, consumed) with lust for one another, men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own bodies and personalities the inevitable consequences and penalty of their wrong doing and going astray which was [their] fitting retribution" (Rom. 1:27, The Amplified Bible).

Perversion brings an automatic penalty! It isn't wrong because God arbitrarily decreed that it is; it's wrong because it will hurt you! It will do irreparable damage to your ability to enjoy the fulfillment of right family life — the engendering and raising of children through a balanced father-mother relationship.

Speaking of those who are primarily motivated by their carnal minds, Paul wrote: "This I say therefore... that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (Eph. 4:17-18).

These people, because of their perverted practices, have rendered themselves totally incapable of right emotions and feelings. They don't understand that this is no arbitrary code of morals — they don't know that it is a living law that you can't break without paying an awesome penalty. They have gone in a way of life, in a pattern of existence, which has gradually dulled their ability to enjoy right relationships.

Why is adultery a sin? Because it harms the human mind — the most finely tuned instrument that exists. It robs the individual of the ability to enjoy sex in the way God intended. Somehow, wholesome relationships in marriage become dull — a man's wife no longer really attracts him in the way that she used to. Oh, it may not happen overnight — "swingers" may seem like they are having fun for a time. But when they embark on these illicit experiences they are little by little destroying their capacity to experience true joy in marriage. It's a path that leads only to frustration, heartache, and ultimately death.

Is sin enjoyable? You bet it is! That's why people engage in it. That's why temptation is so alluring. Adultery is physically and mentally pleasurable. And the kids who smoke pot are getting a kick out of it. The forbidden fruit tasted good to Adam and Eve. No one denies the short-term enjoyment of sin.

Hebrews 11:25 says Moses chose to suffer affliction with God's people rather "than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." But sin's short-term pleasures automatically bring a long-term penalty.

Adam and Eve lived to see one of their own dearly beloved boys brutally murdered by the other. They finally witnessed the entire earth filled with violence, and they eventually died instead of enjoying the eternal life God had offered. The Bible actually shows that those who insistently engage in sin are, spiritually speaking, already dead. It likens them to a corpse. (Charles F Hunting & David R Ord. What's So Bad About Sin? Good News, April 1974)

Sin is the way of get.

If everyone is getting, no one is producing.

All will die.

The Ten Commandments are the way to live.

Blessings come from obeying them.

19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; ... (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Jesus said:

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Sinning does not lead to a truly abundant life, but destruction.

Don't Become Hardened to Sin

Brethren, we need to RENEW OUR GUARD against all the sins around us — all the rottenness of this evil, degenerate, filthy world! The Apostle Paul warns us: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the DECEITFULNESS of sin" (Heb. 3:12-13).

Have some of us begun to take sin for granted? Is sin merely a "religious" word? Or do we see and HATE the awful results that follow the violation of God's wonderful laws? Some are no longer with us because they didn't fear to lie. Others have thought that to borrow from second tithe in an emergency was no great sin. Others have left the Church through dating, then marrying, an unconverted person. None intended to leave the Church at first, but that was the inevitable result of an attitude and action which minimized sin!

Check up on yourself. Do you minimize your sins? Are you "coexisting" with certain "small" sins in your life? Don't allow yourself to be blinded to the seriousness of even the "SMALLEST" sins in your life — because if you tolerate them, they will eventually lead to the lake of fire!

The perfect approach to all sins was given by the Apostle Peter: "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him ESCHEW EVIL, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil" (I Peter 3:10-12).

This is the attitude we should have if we want to live forever! The more we overcome sin, and live righteously before God, the more He can bless us and use us in His Work — and the greater reward we will receive in His soon-coming Kingdom. Therefore, let's abhor all sin, brethren — let's FLEE from sin, and cleave to righteousness with all our heart and strength! (Walker L, Do You Hate Sin? Good News, January-April 1971)

Raising Children Without the Concept of Sin

Some moderns think that teaching about sin is not good and one can lead a moral life without knowing about it:

January 25, 2019

We were standing in line for meat pies at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. ... As we contemplated the menu ... a noisy band of temperance advocates marched by hoisting signs that stated, “Gin is Sin!”

As my 9-year-old daughter watched them pass, her forehead knitted, and then she looked up at me with solemn hazel eyes.

“Mama, what is sin?” she asked.

The merriment of the fair receded and I stared at her, my brain spinning with the magnitude of her question. By failing to teach my child the meaning of the word sin, had I somehow failed to give her a moral foundation?

Sin. That tiny word still makes me cringe with residual fear. Fear of being judged unworthy. Fear of the eternal torture of hell. Fear of my father’s belt.

The notion of sin dominated my girlhood. Raised in Indiana by fundamentalist parents, sin was the inflexible yardstick by which I was measured. Actions, words, even thoughts weren’t safe from scrutiny. The list of sinful offenses seemed infinite: listening to secular music or watching secular television, saying “gosh” or “darn” or “jeez,” questioning authorities, envying a friend’s rainbow array of Izod shirts. God was a megaphone bleating in my head: “You’re bad, you’re bad, you’re bad!” I had recurring nightmares of malevolent winds tornado-ing through my bedroom — a metaphor, I now realize, for an invisible and vindictive god.

I had little contact with people outside of the rigid triangle of my Calvinist home, church and school. ... I feared non-Christians in general and atheists in particular. Because unbelievers didn’t have the stick of eternal damnation hanging over their heads, they had no reason to act morally, and were therefore, I believed, capable of utter depravity. ...

But then, as a teenager, I started attending a public school and my black-and-white worldview started gaining color and nuance. ... At 17, after being caught “fornicating” with my high school boyfriend, I was sent to a Christian reform school where children were beaten in the name of God. It was there that I learned that religion has nothing to do with goodness and there’s a strong link between zealotry and hypocrisy.

I lost my faith by fits and starts. ...

And after years of living a “secular” life, I realized that my notion of sin has evolved. As a girl, my focus was on gaining admittance to heaven. Now I believe that this life is the only life we’ll know; this planet, our only existence. I am no longer motivated by fear of an unproven hell, but by real-world concerns about injustice and inequality. ...

As we stood in line a few weeks ago at the Dickens Fair, I realized that my kids already knew what sin was, without ever having been exposed to the onerous religious weight of the word. Despite being unchurched, they are empathetic, loving and kind. And even more: They are fearless.

I gazed into Davia’s upturned face and felt a rush of love and happiness. I had raised her without sin. Here was a kid who’d recently joked that the Christmas standard “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” should be changed to “I’m Dreaming of a Diverse Christmas.”

She did have a moral code — one she followed not from obligation, but from her own desire to make the world a better place. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/25/well/family/raising-children-without-the-concept-of-sin.html

Well, if there is no God and no life after death, then one may conclude that there is no point in teaching about sin.

But no one, adult or child, is to remain in sin.

How Not To Sin

Christians are not to sin:

1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

We know eternal life is the reward for Chrisians.

As far as how not to sin, or at least to sin less, let's notice the following:

17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

Don't go the way of the world. Don't be greedy. Don't make excuses:

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:12-14)

Don't excuse wrong behavior.

God has help for you:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints — 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Notice the following:

17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"

18 So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 19 You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor your father and your mother.'"

20 And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth."

21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me."

22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22)

Notice that just not doing wrong is not the answer. One should also do good.

In order to sin less YOU NEED TO DO GOOD WHEN YOU CAN.

Consider the following from the Old and New Testament:

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so. (Proverbs 3:27)

17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:17)

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


This DOES NOT mean that you need to enable every beggar who may 1) not want to work and 2) may use the money for drugs or other harmful things. While tithes and offerings are one way to do good, other ways include reading the Bible, fasting regularly, encouraging others, helping those you see are afflicted--even if you are yourself afflicted--When it is in the power of your hand to do so.

Yes, everyone can do good if they are willing to have the right focus.

Over two dozen times (NKJV) the Bible specifically says to “do good.” We do good by working to help others. We do good by loving God and our neighbors (Matthew 22:37-39)—other humans. (More on how to live and why can be found in the free online book: The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why Did God Make You?

Christians are to support the work of God to reach others (Matthew 24:14, 28:19-20; Romans 10:15, 15:26-27) and not get overly tied up with worldly concerns.

Notice also:

30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:30-34)

Do right, hate sin, resist Satan, seek first the kingdom of God, have faith. Confess your sins and get back up if you fall.

If you do these things, you can sin less and be in the eternal kingdom of God.

Thiel B. What is Sin? How Can You Sin Less? COGwriter (c) 2021. https://www.cogwriter.com/sin.htm 2021 2022 0322

A related sermon is also available: Let's Talk About Sin: What is It? Should You Hate Sin?

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