Summary: First message in a series dealing with "church words." This message deals with the definition of sin.

Today we’re beginning a seven part series called "Those Confusing Church Words."

Most unchurched people have heard of some of these words but they have no idea what they really mean, or how they are affected by them, if they are affected by them at all.

It might surprise some of you, but there are lots of folks who have "grown up" in church who don’t have a good understanding of what some of these church words mean.

So, for the next 7 weeks we are going to look at some of the most widely used and perhaps misunderstood words in the church vocabulary.

Now, there is no way we can do an exhaustive study of these words in a 30 minute message, but I hope to give you enough to whet your appetite for some individual study of these words.

Today, we are going to look at the one word that has disappeared completely from almost everybody’s vocabulary, including many pastors - SIN.

It’s not a popular word.

It could easily be put into the category of those profane "four letter words", if it only had four letters!

What is sin?

Is it just those little mistakes we make as we go through life?

After all, everyone makes mistakes, right?

Or is sin something more than that?

• C. D. Cole says this about sin, " Sin is a cheat, a deceiver, and a destroyer. It promises pleasure and pays off in pain. It promises life and pays off in death. It promises profit and pays off in poverty - the loss of all good. Every sin is committed for profit." Nobody would sin if he did not think it would profit in some form or other. There is profit in sin, but it is short-lived.

How can we define sin?

Let me give you some of the current definitions of sin:

The modernists say "sin is good in the making."

That’s how we get the idea that sin is nothing more than those mistakes we make in life.

We learn from our mistakes.

With this definition sin is no big deal, because the more mistakes you can learn from the better person you will become.

The Christian Scientists have another view of sin.

They say "Sin is a figment of a perverted imagination - an imaginary creation of abnormal minds. The man who is convicted of sin is unbalanced, and the man who mourns over sin and seeks forgiveness from God is terribly insane. Such nonsense is refuted by science, and Scripture, and common sense."

The popular view "regards sin as only crime against society. Sinners are young men sowing wild oats, prostitute women, murderers, and gangsters."

The rest of us are "good people" and because we are really good we don’t have to worry about that thing called sin.

Interesting definitions, all of them, but none of those definitions are found in the Bible.

The Bible does define sin, though.

In fact, this passage in 1 John 3:4 gives us the best definition of sin around: "Sin is lawlessness."

There can be no sin where there is no law.

If there is no Lawgiver to Whom we must give account, then there can be no sin, for sin is lawlessness.

The Bible says, "… through the law we become conscious of sin." (Romans 3:20)

God gave us "The Law", some rules to live by.

But the Law doesn’t just focus on actions.

Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.

Sin doesn’t just include individual acts, such as stealing, or lying, or committing murder, but also attitudes that are contrary to the attitudes God requires of us. (Systematic Theology, Grudem page 490).

Sin actually starts in the mind and develops into an attitude that results in an action or a series of actions.

The Bible says, "…after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." (James 1:15)

The more a person sins, the worse the attitude gets and the worse the action gets until, at some point, the sin is suppressed.

We Christians call that "hardening the heart."

After a while sin doesn’t bother the person any more.

The person might know that what he or she is doing is "wrong", but it doesn’t bother them because their concept of right and wrong is skewed.

Many people, maybe the majority of people, will never confront their sin.

It’s often difficult to face, so they make an attempt to get rid of the concept of sin.

The sin itself doesn’t go away, but it can be overlooked, and people spend lots of time and energy trying to get rid of the concept of sin.

In fact, entire societies have made it their business to get rid of the concept of sin.

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