ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia


the word used to denote the willful breaking of God's law

In addition to being a violation of God’s law, “Sin” is also the name of a biblical city and a wilderness (see bottom of this page).

  • Sin, a city in Egypt, called by the Greeks Pelusium, which means, as does also the Hebrew name, “clayey” or “muddy,” so called from the abundance of clay found there

    It is called by Ezekiel (Ezek. 30:15) “the strength of Egypt,” thus denoting its importance as a fortified city. It has been identified with the modern Tineh, “a miry place,” where its ruins are to be found. Of its boasted magnificence, only four red granite columns remain, and some few fragments of others.

  • The Wilderness of Sin

Sin is “any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God” (1 John 3:4; Rom. 4:15), in the inward state and habit of the soul, as well as in the outward conduct of the life, whether by omission or commission (Rom. 6:12-17; 7:5-24).

It is “not a mere violation of the law of our constitution, nor of the system of things, but an offense against a personal lawgiver and moral governor who vindicates his law with penalties. The soul that sins is always conscious that his sin is…

  1. intrinsically vile and polluting, and…

  2. that it justly deserves punishment, and calls down the righteous wrath of God.

Hence, sin carries with it two inalienable characters,

  1. ill-desert, guilt (reatus); and

  2. pollution (macula).”

[Hodge's Outlines]

The moral character of a man's actions is determined by the moral state of his heart. The disposition to sin, or the habit of the soul that leads to the sinful act, is itself also sin (Rom. 6:12-17; Gal. 5:17; James 1:14-15).

The origin of sin is a mystery, and must for ever remain such to us. It is plain that for some reason God has permitted sin to enter this world, and that is all we know. His permitting it, however, in no way makes God the author of sin.

Original sin

Adam’s sin (Gen. 3:1-6) consisted in his yielding to the assaults of temptation and eating the forbidden fruit. It involved in it:

  1. the guilt of disobedience to a positive command

  2. lack of trust in God’s goodness in what He might do about his mate, Eve—she having been deceived by Satan into disobeying God’s command

  3. the sin of unbelief, virtually making God a liar

By this sin, he became an apostate from God, a rebel in arms against his Creator. He lost the favor of God and communion with him; his whole nature became depraved, and he incurred the penalty involved in the covenant of works.

“Our first parents being the root of all mankind, the guilt of their sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature were conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation.”

Adam was constituted by God the federal head and representative of all his posterity, as he was also their natural head, and therefore when he fell they fell with him (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22-45). His probation was their probation, and his fall their fall. Because of Adam's first sin, all his posterity came into the world in a state of sin and condemnation, i.e., (1) a state of moral corruption, and (2) of guilt, as having judicially imputed to them the guilt of Adam's first sin.

“Original sin” is frequently and properly used to denote only the moral corruption of their whole nature inherited by all men from Adam. This inherited moral corruption consists in, (1) the loss of original righteousness; and (2) the presence of a constant proneness to evil, which is the root and origin of all actual sin. It is called “sin” (Rom. 6:12, 14, 17; 7:5-17), the “flesh” (Gal. 5:17, 24), “lust” (James 1:14-15), the “body of sin” (Rom. 6:6), “ignorance,” “blindness of heart,” “alienation from the life of God” (Eph. 4:18-19).

It influences and depraves the whole man, and its tendency is still downward to deeper and deeper corruption, there remaining no recuperative element in the soul. It is a total depravity, and it is also universally inherited by all the natural descendants of Adam (Rom. 3:10-23; 5:12-21; 8:7).

Pelagians deny original sin, and regard man as by nature morally and spiritually well; semi-Pelagians regard him as morally sick; Augustinians, or, as they are also called, Calvinists, regard man as described above, spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1; 1 John 3:14).

The doctrine of original sin is proved…

  1. from the fact of the universal sinfulness of men

    “There is no man that sinneth not” (1 Kings 8:46; Isa. 53:6; Ps. 130:3; Rom. 3:19, 22-23; Gal. 3:22).

  2. from the total depravity of man

    All men are declared to be destitute of any principle of spiritual life; man's apostasy from God is total and complete (Job 15:14-16; Gen. 6:5-6).

  3. from its early manifestation (Ps. 58:3; Prov. 22:15)

  4. It is proved also from the necessity, absolutely and universally, of regeneration (John 3:3; 2 Cor. 5:17).

  5. from the universality of death (Rom. 5:12-20)


Kinds of sin

Various kinds of sin are mentioned in the Bible.

  1. “Presumptuous sins,” or as literally rendered, “sins with an uplifted hand”, i.e., defiant acts of sin, in contrast with “errors” or “inadvertencies” (Ps. 19:13).

  2. “Secret”, i.e., hidden sins (19:12); sins which escape the notice of the soul.

  3. “Sin against the Holy Ghost” (q.v.), or a “sin unto death” (Matt. 12:31-32; 1 John 5:16), which amounts to a wilful rejection of grace. [See: Unpardonable sin]

Some named sins

  1. abomination
  2. adultery
  3. anger (if excessive, protracted, or without cause)
  4. astrology
  5. backbiting
  6. blasphemy
  7. putting a stumblingblock before the blind (Lev. 19:14)
  8. coveting
  9. cursing a parent (Ex. 21:17)
  10. cursing God (Lev. 24:10-16)
  11. cursing the deaf (Lev. 19:14)
  12. cursing the ruler of your people (Exodus 22:28)
  13. dishonoring parents
  14. divination
  15. drunkenness
  16. enchanting
  17. envy
  18. evil-speaking
  19. fornication
  20. gluttony
  21. hatred
  22. heresy
  23. idolatry
  24. kidnapping (Ex. 21:16; Deut. 27:16)
  25. lasciviousness
  26. not loving God
  27. lust
  28. lying
  29. magic
  30. murder
  31. murmuring
  32. necromancy
  33. excessive pride
  34. revelling
  35. robbery
  36. sedition
  37. slander
  38. soothsaying
  39. sorcery
  40. stealing
  41. striking a parent (Ex. 21:15)
  42. taking the name of the LORD God in vain
  43. theft
  44. touching the holy Ark of the Covenant
  45. uncleanness
  46. witchcraft

How to know what is a sin

  • the 10 commandments
  • What does God expect of you? Answer
  • How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer
  • How can I decide whether a particular activity—such as smoking, gambling, etc.—is wrong? Answer
  • law
  • What is “the unpardonable sin”? How does sin become “unforgivable?” Answer
  • Is the new morality acceptable in Christian conduct today? Answer

Penalties for sin

Tip: Why should followers of Christ use The Ten Commandments in evangelism? Answer

God’s remedy for sin


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Author: Matthew G. Easton, with minor editing by Paul S. Taylor.