The Biblical Definition of Sin
By E.H. Jack Sequeira
Our Total Human Depravity
The Hebrew Old Testament has some 12 different words to define
sin and the Greek New Testament about five. Together they represent
seven categories of sin. To fully appreciate Gods unconditional
agape love and the incredible good news of the gospel the truth as it
is in Christ it is important that we first come to grips with these
seven categories of sin. They are as follows:
A deliberate act against the law of God. See 1 John 3:4.
(The King James Version uses the word transgression, but
the Greek word means lawlessness, which is deliberately
choosing to live a life of sin.)
A mental consent to a temptation or a sinful desire, the sin of
coveting. See Rom. 7:7,8. (See also Matt. 5:27,28;
James 1:14; Prov. 24:9.)
Unbelief, a deliberate rejection of a Biblical truth. See
Rom. 14:23. (See also John 3:18; John 16:8,9.)
Neglect of known duties or opportunity. See James 4:17.
(See also James 2:14; Matt. 23:23; Matt. 25:43-46.)
Doing the wrong thing out of ignorance. See Lev. 5:17-19.
(See also Luke 12:48; 1 Tim. 1:13.)
Our sinful natures, which we inherited from Adam. See Psalm
51:5; Psalm 58:3. (See also Rom. 5:19,20; Eph. 2:3b;
A law, principle, or constant force, dwelling in our sinful natures
(indwelling sin in the flesh). This makes us slaves to sin. Therefore,
holy living, in and of ourselves, is impossible. See Rom. 7:14, 20-23.
(See also Luke 11:39; John 8:31-34.)
Note: The first four definitions of sin (#1-4) involve guilt
because we choose to commit these sins (guilt involves responsibility
or volition). But the last two definitions of sin (#6 & 7), which we
all inherit at birth because of the Fall, do not involve guilt
(i.e., responsibility) but only condemnation (see Rom. 5:18).
While these last two definitions of sin do not involve guilt, they
nonetheless make us sinners by nature and, therefore, disqualify us
from heaven (see Rom. 5:19; Eph. 2:3b; 1 Cor. 15:50).