What is sin?

What is sin?

What does it mean that we “have sin,” and can anything be done about it?

Sin is the subject around which everything revolves. Jesus came on account of sin, and we need salvation because of sin (Romans 8:3-4). Because of sin, we continue to live after we have been saved, so that through faithfulness and suffering there will be less of it, both in ourselves and in the others.

We all have sin

Because of the fall, every human being has the laws of sin implanted in his body already at birth, and is therefore at odds with God and His laws (1 John 1:8). There is no condemnation for this sin until we consciously obey its lusts, because the strength of sin is in the law, and where there is no law (no light), there is no punishable sin (Romans 4:15; Romans 5:12-13). By His Spirit, God convicts a person of his evil deeds once he has matured into a conscious being, and afterwards saves that person by His word. However, if he is unwilling to be saved, such a person must necessarily end in perdition. On the other hand, if he humbles himself before God, then God has a just foundation on which He can forgive all sin (namely that His Son, Jesus Christ, suffered and died in our place).

By believing in this perfect work of atonement, we are cleansed from all sin; that is, all our former evil deeds are blotted out. Nevertheless, the root cause of the evil (the law of sin in our members) is not cleansed away by any means. We do not get rid of that in an instant; it is an ongoing, lifelong process of suffering.

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Temptation doesn’t need to lead to sin!

The law of sin in our members is the indwelling, passive sin. It dwells in the flesh, from where it demands its right by appealing to the mind to agree to its lusts. This is what it means to be tempted, yet temptation does not result in sin unless the mind agrees to give in to the temptation (James 1:14-15). We see that the cause of temptation is sin in the flesh, which will stay there for as long as we are in the body. This gives us the opportunity to be tempted and tried, to overcome and to grow to ever-increasing perfection (James 1:2-4,12).

However, we can have the victory over every conscious manifes­tation of sin by not permitting the mind to agree to the temptation. Thus the flesh is under pressure, because its lusts are not satisfied. By remaining firmly decided in our mind and rather suffering in the flesh, we cease from sin (1 Peter 4:1-2). We are not finished with all sin immediately, but little by little. As a result of this, we do not commit conscious sin, but the root of sin is being worn down, so the body of sin it­self is gradually destroyed.

“Deeds of the body”

The law of sin in our members still produces a certain kind of sin: deeds of the body. They appear in areas where we have not received light. There, it is in the nature of the flesh to do the will of sin, but because the mind did not consent to it, there is no condemnation for this kind of deed (Romans 7:21-24; Romans 8:1). However, when these deeds are revealed to us by God’s light, they must be put to death by the Spirit (Romans 8:13).

Two things are required for us to be freed from sin, so we can melt together with God: the cleansing blood, and a life that is “crucified with Christ.”

This article has been translated from Norwegian, and was first published under the title “Sin” in the paper Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures) in March, 1930. Some Bible verses have been added for reference.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.