Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Great Definition for Sin

Sin is a concept and a reality that we do not talk about enough. Our own sin, in particular, is something we tend to avoid. Why is this? The answer is that we avoid thinking and talking about our sin because we are sinful.

As I write this, I am not condemning anyone. Trust me - most of the time I feel like I (not Paul) am the chief of sinners. This is probably because when I dare to do so, I can see into the depths of my own heart much better than I can anyone else's.

One problem we may have is that we do not have an accurate definition of sin in mind. If you have time someday, take a look on-line at a variety of different church websites. Where they tell what they believe, see if they define sin. I guarantee that you will find definitions that vary a great deal.

So what is a great (and more importantly - biblical) definition of sin?

The Baptist Catechism published by Desiring God Ministries (which is patterned on the Westminster Catechism) defines sin as well as I have seen it. It reads, "Sin is transgression of the revealed will of God which teaches that we are to act in perfect holiness from a heart of faith to the glory of God."

I have never seen sin defined any better.

As a family, we use this catechism as part of our family devotional time. I am thrilled whenever I hear my three children rattle off this definition for sin. My hope is that by knowing what sin is, they will be less likely to commit it.


Sonny Davis said...

Eric, I agree that the definition that you have posted is fine indeed.

Currently, our Sunday School class is studying 1 Samuel. As part of this morning's lesson in chapters 13-15, there were two interesting quotes about sin that I'd like to share. While they aren't definitions, they do deal with how we should view sin and respond to it.

"We cannot obey partially or halfheartedly as we seek to eliminate sin from our lives. We cannot stop while the task remains incomplete. Sins, like Amalekites, have a way of escaping the slaughter, breeding, reviving, regrouping, and launching new and unexpected assaults on our most vulnerable areas." John MacArthur

In his book The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges argues that "most Christians don't make it their goal not to sin; rather, they make it their goal not to sin too much".

Thanks for this thought provoking post.

Eric said...

I just recently read the Bridges book. He is right on the money. We probably all pick and choose to some degree which sins we want to tolerate.

Thank you for sharing the quotes.