The subject of sin is an unpopular one in most of today’s world, but the actions and effects of sin are more blatant than ever. Even Christians like to avoid talking about it for fear of offense, name calling, and a host of other things. Yet the state of humanity is obvious, and the Bible has a diagnosis: Sin.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.Genesis 1:1; 31
Where It Started
Humanity hasn’t always defaulted to sin. When God created the universe, it was perfect and good. There was no flaw, no death, and no sin.
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”Genesis 2:8-9; 15-17
God gave one simple rule to His new creation: Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God created mankind with freewill to do good or evil and gave them opportunity to choose. They chose to disobey.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 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 3:1-6
This was the first sin. From this point on, all of mankind not only had the ability to choose evil, they had the knowledge, too. All people in every generation have knowledge of what is good, too, but choose evil continually.
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.Genesis 6:5
What It Is
On the broadest, most basic level, sin is anything that dishonors God. If a thought, word, or action brings God low in our minds, it is sin. There are also specific commands in Scripture (the Bible) that we either obey or don’t depending on if we are focused on honoring God or not.
‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
‘You shall have no other gods before Me.
‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
‘You shall not murder.
‘You shall not commit adultery.
‘You shall not steal.
‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’Deuteronomy 5:6-21
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.Romans 1:18-25
What We Can Do About It
We could go through all the commands and lists of sins in Scripture, but that would be more likely to make us legalistic than good, and it doesn’t address the heart of the problem. Or rather, the heart problem. Sin is a hereditary death disease that everyone since Adam and Eve has inherited. No amount of “doing” will make that go away.
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:10-23
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.Ephesians 2:1-3
Spiritually, we are each stillborn and headed for eternal death. And when you are dead, there is not possible way to save yourself. You are beyond all human ability to save. You can do nothing. Only a miracle can save you. And God is a worker of miracles.