Biblical Definition of Sin

Whoever commits sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3: 4

In the age in which we live it is very common that everyone has a personal definition for everything. So everything has become relative to individual belief system. Sin is not an exception and everyone feels entitled to establish their own criteria on what is sin or not. But relativism is not right. Truth cannot be based on our beliefs and convictions. To find the truth we must go to the manual par excellence, the Bible. And there, in 1 John 3:4, it defines sin as the violation of God’s law.

The Dutch-born Mexican pastor Gerald Nyenhuis (1928- ) said. “The sin is not sinful simply because God forbids it, but all that He forbids is a sin.” On the other hand, the American pastor Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) said: “Actually you do not break the Ten Commandments, the Ten Commandments break it to you, when you transgress the Ten Commandments you become a sinner. Sin makes you an outlaw.”

If the violation of God’s law is sin, I believe appropriate that we review each of the Ten Commandments so that we have very clear their contents as they were given to Moses. The first commandment is found in Exodus 20:3: You shall have no other gods before Me. In Exodus 20:4-6 is the second: 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.

The third commandment is in Exodus 20:7: 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. And the fourth in Exodus 20:8-11: 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.

The fifth commandment is in Exodus 20:12: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. The sixth: You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13). Seventh: You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). Eighth: You shall not steal (Exodus 20:15). Nine: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16). Tenth: 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 20:17) thing.

Each of the Ten Commandments is at the same level and breaking them is sin. God bless you.


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