The Real and Surprising Biblical Meaning of Sin

Sin is a big word in the world of Christianity. It is the very reason that we find so much suffering in this world, both in a personal and global level. Christians are called to change – to overcome sin and live a righteous life. If we are to become effective Christians, it is our duty to reject sin, in all its forms, and become more like God and less like us.

What is sin?

Before we can overcome sin, we have to know its definition. If we are to really know the truth about sin, we need to go to the source of all knowledge and wisdom, the Bible. We should not rely on any encyclopedia, book, or even ourselves.

One of the saddest things that happened to men and even Christian is that they have become a god of themselves. They thought that they could define what sin is and live their lives according to their definition.

Sin is the transgression of the law

Let us first take a look at the Greek word for sin. It came from the Greek word hamartano. It literally means to

  • miss the mark
  • to err
  • to be mistaken
  • to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor
  • to do or go wrong
  • to wander from the law of God
  • to violate God’s law.

So from these definitions alone, we can see that sin has something to do with breaking God’s law. This is supported by what the Apostle John said in I John 3:4:

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” The King James Version puts it this way, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”

Webster Dictionary defines transgress as “the act of passing over or beyond any law or rule of moral duty; the violation of a law or known principle of rectitude; breach of command.”

In short, the transgression of the law means wickedness and lawlessness.

Sin is not doing what is good

Being a Christian is more than just avoiding sin. Christianity means grabbing every opportunity to do good.However, it is not just what we do that makes us sin. It is also what we DON’T do. James said:

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

So in any given situation where you know the right thing to do, and yet you didn’t do it, then you have already committed a sin. We should not live as a hermit who decides to live in the mountains and seclude himself from the civilization for the purpose of avoiding sin. That’s now how to be a Christian.

Being a Christian is more than just avoiding sin. Christianity means grabbing every opportunity to do good.

Sin is not of faith

Finally, there is one more definition of sin that we need to take heed.

“… for whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

Our faith represents our belief, creed, and doctrine. If you are doing something that is not of faith, then you are sinning. For example, celebrating pagan holidays is not of faith. The first-century Christians don’t celebrate pagan holidays, and yet we see the majority of Christians today celebrating holidays that have pagan origins.

Another example is doing something against your conscience. There are instances that the Bible is not clear on a particular issue. If you think that something is a sin, it is safer to assume it is really a sin rather than violating your conscience.

These are the main biblical definition of sin. Knowing the meaning of sin helps you overcome it. Just like in the battlefield, the best way to defeat your enemy is to know your enemy.

8 thoughts on “The Real and Surprising Biblical Meaning of Sin

  1. Thanks for this great review on what sin is! It may be out of the parameters of this particular blog post, but another definition of sin is found in 1 Sam 12:23. Samuel said it was a sin for him to neglect praying for others. Keep up the great articles!


  2. Pingback: 10 Practical Points to Powerfully Overcome Sin | Becoming Christians

  3. The source of all wisdom and knowledge is NOT the Bible. GOD HIMSELF IS THE SOURCE OF ALL WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE, AND HIS HOLY SPIRIT LEADS US INTO ALL TRUTH. The Scriptures POINT us to HIM, speak of HIM, reveal HIM, and they are ALL God-breathed, but the Scriptures themselves are NOT the source of all wisdom and knowledge.


    • Hi Michael!

      I agree with you that it is God that is the True Source of wisdom and knowledge. However, it is through his Word, the Bible, that we learn what He wants us to know. It is the very word of God and as the Apostle Paul mentioned, it is God-breathed.

      Thanks for your comment.



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