7457 - What is Sin? - 1 John 3:4


Audio transcript

We’re glad you’re with us. Join us as we investigate “what is sin?.”

This question is prompted from 1 John 3, verse 4. That’s where we are now as we study through this first epistle of the apostle John. Let me read the verse:

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”

Notice that sin is linked to the law even though this is a New Testament passage. Some will ask, “How can this be?” Those thoughts may come from a legalistic mind which continues to hold onto the Mosaic Law. However, there is no indication that this is a reference to the Mosaic Law. In this passage it is quite unlikely that John has any thought about the Old Testament law, even though he mentions the word law.

Consider this. The word sin assumes that there is a standard of conduct, thought or character which has been violated. Most definitions from the dictionary link sin with a violation or transgression of a moral code. Many of the definitions tie the moral code to religion.

The Biblical sense of sin recognizes that there is an authority who has the right to define the terms for life. Of course this authority is the Triune God, the planner & creator & sustainer of life for all His creatures. As the Creator, He has the authority to set standards to govern life, and then He has the power to require accountability.

Sin is a departure from these standards. The creature which falls away from measuring up to these standards, or of missing the path which God has laid out is called a sinner.

Consider that failing to measure up includes much more than just overt actions. God’s standards include any and everything in our character. The thoughts of the mind and the intents behind our words or actions may also be contrary to God’s expressed desire or instruction.

We should point out that God’s human creatures are the ones under the magnifying glass when sin is mentioned. God made them to be higher on the scale than animals. He made man & woman after His own likeness –– in the image of God. God created man with the intent of living within these people and enjoying a relationship with them. So God created within man a human spirit. This is the place intended to be inhabited by God.

You know, that original man & woman –– Adam & Eve by name –– disobeyed God and became the first sinners on earth.

The consequences of their sin were far-reaching. The domain of nature was changed. But more importantly, people were changed. They died spiritually. The human spirit became dead. Sin broke the close, intimate relationship between God & people.

But Adam and Eve’s sin was not the last. The Bible tells us that every person born on earth who has lived to maturity has likewise ratified the actions of the original couple.

God has been very gracious to people living on the earth today. He has given us a book containing His love letter to mankind called the Bible. The Bible contains God’s commands, wishes & exhortations directed to guide & guard us, and much more regarding our relationship.

The dreadful thing about life is that every person has chosen to disregard God’s instruction at some time or another. We have all violated His will for us. Often times we follow our own will and do our own thing –– just like we were God. We evidence an independent spirit from God. Egoism is the god of many who exist on earth.

The truth is that the consequence of our sin hangs heavy upon mankind. Our hearts are darkened. We are ignorant of God’s plan for our welfare. The human spirit of a great percent of people on earth is dead. Made to be inhabited by Triune God, in many it is shriveled and empty. Man’s lawlessness of sin continues to crush & destroy many lives for eternity.

But friend, there’s good news. God’s love continues to reach out to every person. He doesn’t desire for any person to perish. Because of the love of Jesus, He became a man, lived a sinless life, was unjustly crucified so His life’s blood could serve as the atoning sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins. Then His resurrection proved that Jesus has the power over death. And He offers eternal life. He will come energize our human spirit by His Spirit when we evidence faith in His life & work. There’s no other way to overcome sin.