What is sin?
Sin is to miss the mark, or to commit error against God. We commit sin when we disobey God, or go against His commands for us. In order to understand sin, we must recognize what God commands of us.
All wrongdoing is sin; 1 John 5:17a ESV
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. John 8:34 ESV
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:15 ESV
Why is there sin?
The first people, Adam and Eve, gave in to temptation, disobeying God’s command for them. This led to the Great Fall; the curse of sin and death on all of humanity. From then on, all of humanity has been enslaved to the power of sin.
'Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. ' Genesis 3:1-7 ESV
Thankfully, God created a plan to restore us to Him and defeat the power of sin over us. He gives us the choice to accept His plan - to choose for ourselves to love and obey Him, out of faith in who He is and the divine works He has done through Jesus and continues to do for us every day. Humans caused sin to enter the world, but God made the Way to be reconciled to Him. Salvation through acceptance of Jesus Christ is the only way for the power of sin to be defeated over us. (More on this here).
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36 ESV
'because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” ' Romans 10:9-11 ESV
What are we commanded?
God provides commands for us in how to live once we have accepted His free gift of salvation and He expects us to learn His commands and obey them. Again, to sin is to miss the mark and error against God, or to disobey His commands. In Exodus we see the ten commandments God gives us (more on this here.), and later in Matthew we see Jesus summarize these commands again, reiterating their continued relevance and importance in our lives.
'“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”' Exodus 20:3-17 NKJV
In Matthew we see Jesus questioned about which commandment is the greatest, and He responds by essentially bringing the ten commandments together under the commandments to love God with your whole self, and love others. Not only are we called to love God and love people, but if we truly love Him we will also be obedient to all of His commandments.
'Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”' Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV
In failing to love the way He commands us to, we fall into a snowball effect of sin in other areas of our lives and other commands Christ gives us. We should strive to learn more about His Word, commands, instructions and His love every day in order to better combat sin in our lives and truly rest in the salvation of Christ (more on this here). When we fail to do this, we allow sin to creep into our lives and take hold, which is dangerous to our relationship with and faith in Christ, and the benefits thereof.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 ESV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 12:9 ESV
Throughout scripture, we are given many further instructions in how to live the way God expects us to, primarily being called to live as Christ as our example. If we love God the way He calls us to, accept His Son and His salvation, truly repent of our sin, and commit to live our lives for Him, God will forgive us and bless us with the gift of His Spirit. We are washed clean of our sins and the power it once had over us is broken, and His Spirit dwells in us to serve as a guide in living according to the will of God.
And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. Acts 5:23 ESV
'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.' Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NKJV
How do we respond to sin?
From the moment someone is saved sin now becomes a choice as you are no longer enslaved to it. We are then called to lean into the power of Christ, grow a fruitful, personal relationship with Jesus out of our love for Him, and allow the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to help us fight off temptation and sin in our lives.
'Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. ' II Corinthians 13:5 NKJV
It is vital that we understand what love means to God in order to fully understand what He is commanding us to do, and how to fight sin. If we do not understand God’s definition of love, we are missing the point and missing the mark. If there is no love as He defines for us, life and faith are empty. God gives us His definition of love in 1 Corinthians. In Galatians 5, we see the fruit of the Spirit that is displayed in us as evidence of a true faith out of love.
'If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ' 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 ESV
'For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.' Galatians 5:17-26 ESV
God has called us to love Him, obey Him out of that love, love people, and also defines what kind of love He is calling us to. He also goes on to explain another part of loving people is to help others not fall into sin, and to come alongside one another, exhorting one another to love and good works.
'Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. ' Hebrews 10:23-27 ESV
In loving people, we are called to fellowship with other believers, and be learning and growing in faith all the time in order to strengthen ourselves and the Body of Christ against the temptations of sin and in our understanding and knowledge of the Truth. We have a responsibility to, in God’s love, meet together, speak up when we see a sibling in Christ going astray, and encourage them to stand firm in faith.
'If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. ' 1 John 5:16-17 ESV
'Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. ' Galatians 6:1 ESV
We should be spending time in prayer and God’s Word daily, both personally as well as with others in the Body, in order to strengthen our relationship with God, and combat sin. The more we seek with our whole self to learn more of God and His word, the stronger we become against sin. As we grow stronger, there will be increasing evidence of our faith inherently in our lives as we produce more fruit of the Spirit in our relationships.
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:10 ESV
'For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ' Hebrews 4:12 ESV
'for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.' Hebrews 5:13-14
We have a responsibility to hear God’s truth ourselves and accept it, and then to share it with others. He tells us that if we love Him, we will obey Him. If we obey Him out of love, we will produce His love and fruits in our lives as evidence that we are His. If we do not love as He calls, all that we do is for nothing. We can speak all the truth of scripture, but if it is not done in love there is nothing to gain - it is empty, fruitless, and unhelpful. If we do not walk in love of the Lord and others, we are guilty of sin against God and this will trickle into further areas of our lives. First comes love of God, then love of people, and through this love we are able to grow in faith, learn to combat sin better, and bear His good fruits with the world.