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What Is Sin Anyhow?

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."1

Some sins are easy to see—such as stealing, cursing, violence, drunkenness, abuse, adultery, lying, cheating, and so on. These are all obvious.

These are sins of commission. But there are also sins of omission. As James pointed out, if we know to do good and don't do it, that's sinning too.

There are also subtle sins, sins that are often hidden. These could be called sins of the spirit such as greed, jealousy, envy, pride, self-righteousness, lust, bitterness, resentment, hostility, manipulative and/or impure motives, and the desire to control others, and so on.

Even more subtle, and perhaps the most common sin of all and practiced by so many, is the sin of denial. It is lying to one's self—which is as big a sin as lying to anyone else. Denial is being out of touch with reality. It can be a silent killer. It is being emotionally and spiritually asleep, and we don't become aware of it unless we wake up. It usually takes a crisis of some kind to wake us from this dangerous sleep. We deny our true feelings, we deny our motives, we deny many of our sins, we rationalize our behavior and end up believing the lies we tell ourselves. In other words, we hide from the truth. And the more in denial we are (that is, dishonest with ourselves), the more we will distort all other truth, including God's truth, to make it match our misguided perception of reality.

Sin is a cancer of the soul. The reason God is so opposed to it is because it hurts and ultimately destroys those whom God loves—us! Unconfessed and unforgiven it will separate us for all eternity from a holy and loving God.

But thank God there is a remedy. It is found in the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ. You can read all about it in No. 2 below.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to be real with myself, with you, and with at least one or two safe, non-judgmental friends. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. James 4:17 (NIV).
2. "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at:


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.