Why do we sin? What is sin? How does the Bible define sin? Is desire sin? Let's see how scripture answers these questions to help us examine ourselves and ask for God's help in our lives.
These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.
What is one commonality that we all have? I’m not talking about our calling, this church, or this Sabbath day when we worship God. We have something else in common. Let’s read about one thing that we all do. Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×Maybe not exactly what you were thinking of. But we all sin. We have all sinned. We all will sin. Because of our sins, we are worthy of death. Someone is liable for that sin. Thankfully, Jesus came to die for us; we can repent and put those sins on Him. Christ makes the payment for us. 1 John 1:8 1 John 1:8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
American King James Version×We can’t sit back and say sin binds everybody else together, but not me! I’ve been sin free for the whole month. The Bible says we are all sins; if we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves. God wants us to the best we can with His help not to sin. Satan wants us to slip and fail. He wants to see us not get into the kingdom. He wants to see us sin. As we approach Unleavened Bread, do we understand what sin is? What causes it? Why do we sin? Today I want to discuss at a basic level what sin is.
There are two major concepts the Bible uses to discuss sin. 1. The concept of transgression. The word means to step across or to go beyond a set boundary or limit. Think of sports teams. All sports have boundaries. That determines where the game is to be played. If you leave that, you have a penalty for leaving the boundaries. You have gone out of bounds. Players must stay in those limits. 2. To miss the mark. That means to aim but yet miss. If you set a target and shoot an arrow, but at the last minute, flinch, you miss the mark. If a basketball player shoots but misses, how many points does he get? He doesn’t get any. I was huge in YOU. I played basketball and track. I hated running. I still don’t. So I did the high jump. I would run up and jump and try to get over the bar. If I hit the bar instead, I missed the mark. Missing the mark means missing the goal. This tells us that there is a direction we need to go. We have changed direction. We have turned off and gone a different direction. It can also mean failing to measure up. Think of the school tests you took as a kid. I hate tests. I don’t do well on tests. I’ve never been a good test taker. What happens if you fail a test in school? You will fail the class and have to do it all over again. There is a minimum level of standard to pass. If you don’t, you have missed the mark. You can miss the mark by aiming at the goal and missing, or by falling short.
In either case, we missed the target. Both concepts imply a basic requirement: Boundaries do exist. To sin means to cross the boundaries God has set. Or we have missed the target that God put before us. Either case, we have sinned. We have gone off track. We have missed the mark. We have sinned. This is where the biblical definitions of sin become important. The scripture defines the boundaries. He doesn’t just say don’t sin. He tells us what the boundaries are. The laws of God define the boundaries. The playing field. The goal of this life is to build the perfect righteous character of God. The laws of God define the target we should aim for. The laws reveal the principles that are acceptable to God, that we should live by. The Bible is more than do’s and don’t’s. They are the same standards that God and Christ live by. They don’t have a different standard. Christ came and lived by these things. He showed love. Romans 7:12 Romans 7:12Why the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
American King James Version×God defines the boundaries for mankind. He says His law is holy and spiritual and good. Crossing that boundary is a sin for us. 1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×This is one of the biblical definitions of sin. The NKJV says sin is lawlessness. The Greek means without law or against the law. G458 ἀνομία anomia an-om-ee'-ah From G459; illegality, that is, violation of law or (generally) wickedness: - iniquity, X transgress (-ion of) the law, unrighteousness.
Thayer Definition: 1) the condition of without law 1a) because ignorant of it 1b) because of violating it 2) contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness Part of Speech: noun feminine A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G459 Citing in TDNT: 4:1085, 646 When we actively violate those boundaries, we have sinned. It can also mean deliberate rebellion against God’s laws. God gave humanity His laws to show us how to love God and our fellow human beings. Deuteronomy 30:15-16 Deuteronomy 30:15-16  See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil;
 In that I command you this day to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the LORD your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it.
American King James Version×Vs. 15 – Two choices. Vs. 16 – God’s intentions for us – His command – is to love Him. To keep His commands and statutes and judgments. To shoot for a goal and hit it bulls-eye right on. When we sin, we break God’s law of love. He showed us how to live in harmony with humans. When we sin, we go against those laws. With that backdrop, let’s broaden our definition. 1 John 5:17 1 John 5:17All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not to death.
American King James Version×Read the first half for now. What is unrighteousness? We have a list of do’s and don’t’s. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t commit adultery. All unrighteousness is sin. Not some. All wicked actions are sin. All wrong doing is sin. Doing wrong is always sin. Each wickedness is sin. All iniquity is sin. The words unrighteous, wicked, wrong, and iniquity come from Greek meaning that action that causes visible harm to others in violation of the divine standard. G93 ἀδικία adikia ad-ee-kee'-ah From G94; (legal) injustice (properly the quality, by implication the act); moral wrongfulness (of character, life or act): - iniquity, unjust, unrighteousness, wrong.
Thayer Definition: 1) injustice, of a judge 2) unrighteousness of heart and life 3) a deed violating law and justice, act of unrighteousness Part of Speech: noun feminine A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G94 Citing in TDNT: 1:153, 22 Other meanings: Evildoers. Dishonest. To be unfair. To harm. To mistreat. To wrong another person. We can take any of those and drop those into this verse. James broadens the definition. It is not just the do’s and don’t’s of the Old Testament. Trivia question: What sin is not to death? Think about it later. Sin crosses over into our attitudes and motives and what goes on in our minds. It involves our thoughts. These are places where sin can germinate and grow. Let’s read what Christ said. Let’s see if John said the same thing Christ did. Matthew 5:21-22 Matthew 5:21-22  You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
 But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
American King James Version×Here we read that John is 100% backing up what Christ said. The principle is if we pass judgment on someone and view them as unworthy of life, that leads to sin. Sin doesn’t just involve breaking the physical laws. It goes deeper into our motives and what we feel in our hearts. UCG booklet Transforming Your Life: Sin starts in the mind. When we allow evil thoughts to stay in our mind, they can lead us to sin. We are what we think. Those feelings we have about other people can germinate sin. It goes beyond do’s and don’t’s. There is an interesting progression here in James. Think of the fruits of the spirit and the flesh. The Bible is full of lists.
James 1:14-15 James 1:14-15  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
 Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
American King James Version×Vs. 14 – This is a progression. You can’t just wake up in the morning and instantly sin. We need to understand what causes us to sin. Vs. 15 – An interesting progression. You can’t wake up groggy eyed and sin. There is a progression. We have to be tempted; we have to lust and be enticed. We can stop short of the sin and not sin. That is very encouraging. Let’s break down the verses. Vs. 14 – Tempted is from Greek meaning to try whether a thing can be done or to entice. G3985 πειράζω peirazō pi-rad'-zo From G3984; to test (objectively), that is, endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline: - assay, examine, go about, prove, tempt (-er), try.
Thayer Definition: 1) to try whether a thing can be done 1a) to attempt, endeavour 2) to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quantity, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself 2a) in a good sense 2b) in a bad sense, to test one maliciously, craftily to put to the proof his feelings or judgments 2c) to try or test one’s faith, virtue, character, by enticement to sin 2c1) to solicit to sin, to tempt 2c1a) of the temptations of the devil 2d) after the OT usage 2d1) of God: to inflict evils upon one in order to prove his character and the steadfastness of his faith 2d2) men are said to tempt God by exhibitions of distrust, as though they wished to try whether he is not justly distrusted 2d3) by impious or wicked conduct to test God’s justice and patience, and to challenge him, as it were to give proof of his perfections. Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G3984 Citing in TDNT: 6:23, 822 “His own desires”. Literally means a longing, especially for that which is forbidden. It is interesting that we don’t sin for desiring for good things. It is not sin to desire to go pray more in the middle of the day. We sin because of forbidden desires. “Enticed”. Many of you have been fishing. You have thrown a lure or a worm on a hook in the water. The Greek means to bait. Just like you would bait a fish. You hope that a fish will hook himself and you can reel it in. Satan throws out a lure and hopes you will bite down on. Conceived means clasp, seize or take a prisoner.
There is a penalty for breaking God’s law. Someone has to pay that penalty. Sin gone unforgiven produces death. When we are drawn away by our longing for that which is forbidden, we are baited. Then that desire takes us prisoner, and that produces sin, which produces death. It is interesting that we can start short of sin. We can lust after things that are not sexual. Oh, I wish I had a kitchen like that! Why can’t my husband work harder! Why can’t my kids behave like that! We have to guard our motives. Is desire bad? It looks like desire produces sin. So is it bad to desire things? We could throw out a list like smoking, pornography, stealing, skirting the system at work. We should not have those kinds of desires. Do you desire food? I desire chili. If we don’t have desires, we can shrivel up and die. Do you desire to bathe? To brush your teeth? Simple and funny in a way. Are desires bad? What about the new car that passed you on the freeway? It is the color you would like. What happens if your best friend shows up with that car? How can he afford that? I know how much money he makes. These become bad desires. You are stepping outside the boundaries. How about the Sabbath? Do we desire things for the Sabbath? Do we desire to keep it holy? To do special things on the Sabbath? We should. It is not wrong as desire the new car as long as it is within the bounds that God has set. But when we lust for it and get upset with our friend for buying it, we step out of the bounds. Are desires bad? It depends. How are they being managed? God created us with desires. Let’s go see what He has to say about the desires we have.
Genesis 1 talks about creation week. Genesis 1:26-27 Genesis 1:26-27  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
American King James Version×We were made. Genesis 1:31 Genesis 1:31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
American King James Version×Everything God made was good. Are our desires bad? As long as they are properly maintained, no. They are natural parts of what God called good. If desire was bad, this would not have been true. Nothing that God makes is inherently evil. It is up to us to decide when we will leave the boundaries. The challenge we have is to properly manage our desires. We don’t want those desires to produce and bring forth sin. Romans 7:7 Romans 7:7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet.
American King James Version×The law of God doesn’t prevent sin. It simply defines what sin is. The law gives us the knowledge about the weaknesses of our sin. But the law provides no power to subdue that flesh. It is up to us to decide whether to stay in those boundaries. It is only by the way of the law that we understand what the law is. If we drove on a road with no speed limit, could a police officer give you a speeding ticket? No. God’s law defines the boundaries. Sometimes, we like to define our own boundaries. This is what I think is okay to do on the Sabbath. But sometimes, our boundaries are not the same as God’s. We must be careful not to judge ourselves by our boundaries. We must live and follow God’s boundaries. We should do things on the Sabbath that we don’t do on any other day of the week. If we read something, it should stop for the Sabbath.
What does God say about the Sabbath? It is special. It is holy. It is different from the other six days. Should we listen to the same music? Be careful of setting up your own boundaries and judging yourself by them. Romans 8:3-4 Romans 8:3-4  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
American King James Version×I’ll read the Revised English Bible. Brethren, to those who are not baptized, the penalty of sin is still on you. You get to pay the penalty for those times you have stepped out of the boundaries. For those who are baptized, you have the blessings of the sacrifice of Christ that takes away those sins. You have the blessing of going before God and asking for forgiveness. I’m sorry I stepped out of the boundaries. I’m sorry I shot and missed. Let’s examine ourselves for where the brownie crumbs of sin are. Let’s see who we really are. Let’s pray to God and ask Him to reveal our sins to us. When we stepped out of the boundaries into sins. Pray for help with the desires of our flesh that end up bringing forth sin.