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Legal Definition
The Bible describes sin in the following way.
"sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3: 4)
Many people avoid this topic. Some deny that there is sin or a God or some absolute values. Others believe that our values must evolve with the demands of the culture. This makes the Bible unpopular, because the Bible does describe this disease called sin that isolates us from God.

But what is the definition of sin in the Bible?
If you examine the issue, there are at least three definitions. The basis of all of these is that sin is a state of existence that separates us from God. In our lesson on the colors of God, we explore the reasons for these definitions and we concluded that sin is a separation from God, and in practical terms it is demonstrated as separation or rebellion from the works of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Origin and Consequences
Sin began in the Garden of Eden when our parents disobeyed God. As a consequence, they were separated from God. He no longer met face to face with them. The separation resulted in specific physical changes.

Salvation and Righteousness
So how did God fix this problem? How do we get out of this endless cycle of evil? Different religions propose different solutions.

Jesus Christ: The Solution
God does this redemption and rehabilitation by three distinct processes.

God Removes Our Sin
We have a love affair with sin and are committing adultery against our Creator. Since God hates divorce, He forgives our failures and forgets the past. God restores the relationship by removing or ignoring our sins in several ways. He is either hiding Himself or hides our sins or gets someone else to remove them.

The Holy Spirit: The Solution
God does not excuse our sins. He has chosen to ignore our sins. But ignoring our problems does not solve them. So God solves the problem of the desire to sin with the Holy Spirit. He changes our desire by teaching us to hate sin and love righteousness.
Prayer of Commitment
Prayer Dear Lord Jesus,
I believe You are the Son of God and that you died to forgive me of my sins. I know that I have sinned. I ask you to forgive me. I turn from my sins and I ask you to come into my life as my Lord and Savior. Thank you for saving me. Please help me to live for You. Amen.

Our Response

God Hears Sinners
Who is a sinner? Does God hear them? Since we all have sinned then we are all sinners. Since perfection still eludes us and all believers relapse and periodically need to confess sins, then believers are still sinners. So when does God stop hearing sinners?

Who can Forgive Sins?
False gods, Idolatry, disrespect, break Sabbath First Four Commandments God People God
Steal, kill, covet, lie, adultery, disrespectLast Six Commandments PeoplePeople
Destruction, neglectLovePeople
If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained. (John 20: 23).
The Unpardonable Sin
... any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. (Matthew 12: 31)
The unpardonable sin is the sin of rejecting the Holy Spirit. The sin is not unpardonable because it is so vile. It is unpardonable because in rejecting the Spirit we have rejected God's method of removing sin. How does this happen?
The Holy Spirit is only given to those who obey God (Acts 5: 32). Why?
He keeps revealing sin and if we are unwilling to obey there is no point in leading us to further obedience. This continued rejection leaves God with no method of "writing His laws into our heart".

There is no sin that is so horrible that God cannot forgive us.
But there is a cherished sin that is so small that it will separate us from God forever.

One church has used this verse to set up a priestly system by which the sinner comes to them for forgiveness, not to God. In this system, even God cannot forgive a sin if the priest refuses to forgive it.

When any sin is committed there are always two victims, God is the ultimate victim and the next is the person, animal or living thing that is injured. God is the victim because it is His law that we have violated. This process of forgiveness begins with the acknowledgement that all sins are ultimately against God.
Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. (Psalm 51: 4).
So the Bible teaches that only the victim and God have power to forgive sins. This power does not belong to a third party.

  1. God. Christ has the authority to forgive sins on earth. Ultimately all forgiveness comes from Him.
    So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins (Mark 2: 10).
    To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him. (Daniel 9: 9).
  2. The Human Victim. People can forgive each other. God wants us to behave like Him and freely forgive. If we forgive, He will honor our agreement and forgive also. But He added a very noticeable condition on this power. If you do not forgive others, He cannot forgive you.
    Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, Just as God in Christ has also forgiven you. (Ephesians 4: 32).
    For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6: 14-15).
    Do not judge, and you will not be judged, and do not condemn and you will not be condemned; pardon and you will be pardoned. (Luke 6: 37 ).

How Do We Remove Sins?
Through the death of Christ, there are two ways to remove sins. And this power belongs to both the sinner and the victim.

  1. Forgive Sins. If you have been wronged, you have the power to retain sins or not forgive. But if you do not forgive, it is a sign that you are resisting the Holy Spirit, because He leads you to repentance and forgiveness. If you act like that then it shows that you truly do not understand God. So eventually, He has to judge you by your own standards.
    Judged By Your Own Standards. Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7: 1-2).
    This is not teaching that you can escape the judgment by being so open minded that you agree with the actions of everyone. It teaches that you will be subject to God's righteous standard of judgment, in addition to your harsh standards. So, let your standard be forgiveness.
    Our power does not make God powerless or leave the sinner in a state of hopelessness. God can forgive the sins that the victim does not forgive, since He was also a victim. It is just that His preferred solution is for everyone to forgive each other immediately and from the heart.
    Ultimately, we must also ask God for forgiveness also. Because all sins are against Him. (Psalm 51: 4).

    Retain Sins. God will forgive you of all your sins. But, if you do not forgive sins, then at the judgment you will be found bearing the sins of others that you chose to hang on to. At that point God is no longer in the business of wiping away sins. And only one Righteous Man was capable of bearing the sins of others.
  2. Confess Sins. If you have sinned, confess your sins to God and to the person you have wronged. If you are aware of sins, pray for the sins of others and the nation. God will respond by revealing errors to the sinner. This is not a system to replace confession to God. It is a system of reconciliation to the person wronged.
    Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5: 16)
  3. High Priest. Jesus is the great High Priest Who is defending us on the day of atonement by removing our sins.
    Therefore He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7: 25)

The Anatomy of Forgiveness
What does forgiveness look like, act like, feel like or think like?
Most people treat forgiveness as a set of actions whose goal it is to "start up where we left off" and to pretend that the misunderstanding never happened. Here, remorse is a superficial analysis of the minimum combination of the right amount of words, tears, emotions, tokens of repentance and suffering that will make the guilty look and feel better. All of this is evaluated by the victim and none of it is verifiable.

The truth is that we cannot truly evaluate the genuineness of a person's words or actions. We have to accept their statements by faith and evaluate everything based on love. If our emotions and hurt are still too raw, we must evaluate our response based on the love of God. My enemy is valuable because God loves them. This person is my enemy because of a sin committed 6000 years ago. We are all in the same sinking boat. All condemned, all fearful, all weakened through no fault of our own. If we acknowledge this then maybe we can have more compassion and forgive more quickly so that we can lift each other out of this sinking quicksand.

Overcoming Sin
You can overcome every sin that plagues you no matter the source. Unfortunately, the world is on a mission to support and promote sin, denying both the need to overcome sin or the idea of sin and absolute values.

Forgiving Yourself.
Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who revere Him. For He Himself knows our frame, He remembers that we are but dust. (Psalm 103: 13-14).
For some reason Christians want to operate from guilt instead of joy. They do not forgive themselves. They are not sure if God has forgiven them, probably because they do not feel forgiven or feel worthy of forgiveness. And with that single attitude they make God a liar and an ineffectual savior. Instead of looking at the Savior and the wonderful gift of God, they look at themselves and their unworthiness.
Here is the reality. If you sinned at anytime in the past and you have asked for forgiveness, then you have been forgiven. If you are ever tempted to look back at the past and to feel unworthy and to be afraid of your status before God, remember this analogy. Baby In Dirty Diaper

The Baby And The Bath Water. God is the loving Parent. You, the sinner, are a three month old baby. Sin is everything in your diaper. It is God's responsibility to clean up your mess because you are incapable of doing it. It is His joy to always love you and guide you because You are His beloved child.
God will never say, "I have got to throw out this useless baby with the bath water, because this baby is just too poopy! Honey, let us get a new baby."
So when you continue to agonize over past sins and worry about how God looks at you, you are accusing God of neglect. You are also returning to the garbage can to remove your dirty diaper.
You are saving the bath water and throwing away the baby.

Everywhere More Poop! Now, the nature of sin and sinners is that they keep on sinning. The nature of babies is that they keep on eating and pooping. There are no super babies.
Sooner or later babies will learn as their parents potty-train them. Sooner or later you will learn as the Holy Spirit teaches you and your sins no longer have any control over you. Every time you sin, ask God to forgive you and believe that He does. At the Second Coming, you will realize that you have been potty trained.

Study to show yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.   2 Timothy 2: 15 Time: 60 minutes
Print: 9 pages
Copyright     Updated : April 2, 2005. July 2009
Author: Laverna Patterson. Editor: Patterson (January 2008)