How does God define sin?
Sin is a complex array of God-snubbing behavior, attitudes and motives that are ever-present in the human condition.
Fundamentally, sin is rebellion against the rule of God, the transgression of God’s will as revealed in his law. This is the gist of John’s understanding of sin when he said: “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Those who disobey God’s righteous decree deserve death (Romans 1:32).
This rebellion involves the whole person: what he thinks, what she says and what he does. Our soul, heart, mind, and strength, are corrupted by sin. Scriptures teach a dynamic link between thought and deed. That is why, in Jesus’ eyes, hate is the same as murder (1 John 3:15) or calling someone a “fool” puts the speaker in danger of hellfire (Matthew 5:22). Evil motives are at the center of the sinful condition (Matthew 15:18).
Adam and Eve, our perfect primal parents, were warned of the consequence of disobedience: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) Their sinful revolt and satanic defection brought spiritual and physical death upon themselves and their descendants (Romans 3:15; 5:12-21; Ephesians 2:1-2). We became alienated from God and from each other (2 Corinthians 5:19). Even God’s good creation was plunged into despair, curse and death (Genesis 3:14-19; Romans 8:20-21).
Humans have subsequently been born with a sinful nature, a predisposition to do evil; a proclivity to go against the will and purpose of God. Sin has polluted our motives so that everything we do is stained by sin. Out of this perverted nature arise all the sins that people commit (Matt. 15:19); no person is free from this influence of sin; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
Since sin is an affront to God’s holy nature and opposes his rule, it is natural to sense God’s infinite anger against the perpetrator and collaborators of this rebellion. The result of sin is wrath (Genesis 3:24; Romans 1:18). God hates this grip of rebellion that has ruined His good creation and continues to kill, maim and destroy.
In spite of God’s wrath, the Bible focuses on God’s provision for our redemption. His desire is to forgive and correct our waywardness. God’s undeserved mercy is seen in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament and preeminently in the coming of Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The coming of the Son of God to be our savior speaks to the drastic nature of human sin and rebellion (Romans 5:9). Ours is not a condition that is easily repaired or shrugged off. Sin’s deadly consequences could only be addressed by the substitutionary atonement of Christ.
God defines sin as defiance against him and his ways. Because of his holy nature, He must punish sin. Because of his grace, his wrath is directed on a substitute which God himself provides (Genesis 22: 14; Galatians 3:13)