Recognising Sin

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If the believer is going to put to death and put off sin, it is first essential to recognise what sin is and what is sin. Today’s culture continues to re-define sin so that consciences may be soothed. For example, drunkenness is changed to being called an “alcoholic”, the sin of fornication is re-named “living together” or a “de-facto relationship”, and the list could go on. Though the world refuses to call sin for what it is, we as Christians are to be concerned about being biblical and honouring to our Lord. So then, we need to call sin for what it is! Sin is no small matter – it is the believer’s greatest enemy. John MacArthur noted,

“Anything as severe as sin needs a definition so people can understand it and know why they need to be free from it.”[1]

He goes on to quote a classic verse in the New Testament that provides an insightful definition of sin. That text is : “sin is lawlessness.”

Such a text reveals that sin is anything that does not conform to God’s standard; it is simply breaking God’s law.

In the Scriptures there are many words used when describing sin. The most common word for sin is the Greek word hamartia, which literally means, “to miss the mark.” In classical Greek it could be used of a soldier throwing his spear and missing his enemy. But when used in Scripture, it refers to any individual missing the mark of God’s standard, a simple definition could be: sin is any thought or action that does not conform to God’s holy character. Many people trivialize sin and sadly, are easily entertained by it. As the people of God, we ought to be disgusted by it, and recognize that it is our enemy. In the book, The Sinfulness of Sin, Ralph Venning insightfully states (in summarized form):

1. Sin is contrary to the nature of God

2. Sin is contrary to all the names and attributes of God.

3. Sin is contrary to the works of God.

4. Sin is contrary to the law and will of God.

5. Sin is contrary to the image of God, in which man was made.

6. Sin is contrary to the people and children of God.

7. Sin is contrary to, and set against the glory of God.

8. Sin is contrary and opposite to the being and existence of God.

If we are going to enter the pathway to purity and effectively wage war on sin, we need to call sin for what it is. Can you spot sin on the horizon? Are you carefully looking at your life and trying to be aware of anything that will cause you or your brother spiritual harm? There is nothing beautiful or good about sin; it is the believer’s foe!


[1] MacArthur, John. Nothing But the Truth, Crossway Books, 1999, 90

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

Published by

Andrew Courtis

Andrew Courtis

ANDREW - Serves as Pastor of Hills Bible Church. I am married to Dianne and we have three children (Kate, Emma and Jack). I was born and raised in Melbourne, moved to Adelaide to undertake theological studies (BMin.), and have completed additional studies with the Australian College of Theology (MATh.). I have served in pastoral ministry in both Melbourne and Sydney and am a qualified school teacher. I am committed to expository preaching and making the word of God known and understood.