Definition of Sin

King David, a person the Bible describes as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), was also, sadly, a man who was all too familiar with sin. In Psalm 32, written after he had asked God for the forgiveness of a horrendous sin in his life, David brings out four different facets of sin:

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1–2).

Transgression: Implies a defiance. It is a deliberate rebellion against God.

Sin: Implies a defect. It literally means to miss the mark or fall short of God’s requirements.

Iniquity: Implies a distortion. It denotes “perverseness” since it comes from a Hebrew word meaning “bent” or “crooked.” Human nature is warped, bent, and twisted instead of being perfect and true.

Deceit: Implies a deception. This aspect of sin is what makes it so hard for someone to voluntarily confess his or her wrongdoing.

The wrong response to sin

When we sin, we almost never immediately want to come clean. Instead, we tend to do one or more of the following when we are confronted with our actions:

We try to cover it up. Someone has said, “A sin is two sins when it is defended.” Adam and Eve did this after their first sin in the Garden of Eden. They immediately tried to “hide” themselves from the presence of the Lord (Genesis 3:8). Yet, Scripture warns us, “He who covers his sins will not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13).

We attempt to justify ourselves. We convince ourselves that we have a valid reason for what we did, or we place the blame on someone else. This type of response goes clear back to the Garden of Eden again, when Adam tried to place the blame for his sin upon God and Eve: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12).

We are oblivious to our own sin. Sometimes we sin in ignorance or presumption. That is why David prayed, “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back your servant from presumptuous sins” (Psalm 19:12–13). While some sins (such as murder, adultery, and stealing) are rather obvious, other sins (such as pride, selfishness, and gossip) are not. But according to Jesus, sins of the heart can separate us from God just as easily as sins of the body.

Until we recognize our own responsibility in sin, we will never find forgiveness. Confession is a requirement for forgiveness. The blood of Jesus has never cleansed an excuse.

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Billy Graham: The Man I Knew

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