The purpose of this study is to define sin. It is not designed to "point the finger" or to necessarily make a person feel guilty. It should, however, facilitate a good self analysis using several verses from God’s word that deal with this topic.
"Look, the Lord’s power is enough to save you. He can hear you when you ask him for help. But your sins separate you from your God. The Lord sees your sins and he turns away from you."
Apparently God cannot tolerate sin. Our sins literally create a separation between us and God. The verse states that the Lord has enough power to help us and is always willing to hear us; but our actions or attitudes can erect a barrier between us and God. Sin causes separation.
"The person that sins is the person that will be put to death! A son won’t be punished for his father’s sins and a father won’t be punished for his son’s sins. A good man’s goodness belongs to him alone. A bad man’s evil belongs to him alone."
Here we learn that each of us are responsible for our own sins. Sometimes this verse is good news to parents and sometimes it is good news to children! Either way though it clearly communicates that sin is a personal issue that each of us must deal with.
Three types of sins are described in scripture.
1. Sins of the heart.
"And Jesus said, The things that come from a person are the things that make that person wrong. All these bad things begin inside a person in the mind. Bad thoughts, sexual sins, stealing, murder, adultery, selfishness, doing bad things to people, lying, doing sinful things, jealousy, saying bad things about people, proud boasting, and foolish living. All these evil things come from inside a person. These things make a person wrong."
I always discuss sins of the heart first because it typically catches a person off guard! When we hear about sin we usually think about things you do against people or society. Most people incorrectly feel like whatever they think or have in their heart is completely to themselves; however, this scripture shows us that you can have "sins of the heart." Each of the sins committed with the physical action in these verses begin with a sin of the heart. Jesus gives similar teachings about anger in Matthew 5:21-26 and about sexual sin in Matthew 5:27-30.
2. Sins of action, sins that you commit by doing something.
"The wrong things our sinful self does are clear: Being sexually unfaithful, not being pure, doing sexual sins, worshipping false gods, doing witchcraft, hating, making trouble, having jealousy, being very angry, being selfish, making people mad at each other, making divisions, having envy, being drunk, having wild and wasteful parties, and doing other things like this. I warn you now like I warned you before: The people who do these things will not be in God’s kingdom.
Typically, each of us can see our own self in this list at least once, if not several times. The consequence of such sins are clearly spelled out in the last sentence. Other passages that clearly spell out sinful conduct can be found in Romans 1:18-32 and I Corinthians 6:9-10.
3. Sins of No Action, Sins of Omission.
"And when a person knows how to do good, but does not do good, then he is sinning."
You can even sin by doing nothing! What are the good things that you know you should be doing or that you should have done! Often we can brainstorm up a long list of good things that we should do. To not do those good things is even a sin!
Even though a study of sin is very important and often enlightening, it can also be depressing. I never share these scriptures about sin without closing the Bible Study with John 12:44-46 "Then Jesus said loudly, ‘The person that believes in me is really believing in the One who sent me. The person that sees me is really seeing the one who sent me. I am light and I came into this world. I came so that every person that believes in me would not stay in darkness.’" A study of sin often paints a dark picture; however, Jesus is light. To appreciate the light that is offered by Jesus though, we often need to reflect on the darkness that is in our life.