The Sin Problem – Recognizing Sin

There is a series that I plan on doing concerning Christian Living – following the wisdom and commandments of the scriptures as a model for how we should live our lives today. But there is another series of topics that I feel need to be covered before we can really focus on those things – The Sin Problem.

The first one of those topics is this one – Understanding Sin. What is sin? How is it described? How can we recognize it? What can we do about it?

What is sin? How is it described? Simply put, sin separates us from God.


Webster defines sin as “a transgression of the law of God.” While that is a good and accurate definition, Webster also has a second definition – “a vitiated (spoiled or of impaired quality) state of human nature in which self is estranged (no longer close with; alienated) from God.”

It is clear that men often times think of sin in two separate ways, two categories – commiting a sin, and living in sin (habitual sin). Typically, people think of commiting a sin could be things like:

  • Cussing when you stub your toe
  • Checking out other women (or men!)
  • Skipping a church service

Whereas, when people think about living in or habitual sin, things like this come to mind:

  • Having an on-going affair
  • Getting drunk with your friends on Friday nights
  • Living with someone (a.k.a. shacking up)

But through the scripture, we know that to God, sin is sin. No sin is better or worse than any other. God cannot look at sin, nor will there be any sin allowed into Heaven.

Habakkuk 1:13

13 You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,

And cannot look on wickedness.

Revelation 21:27

27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

But it is true that everyone sins. Even true, born again, honest Christians sin. We catch ourselves saying, doing, and even thinking things that are not according to the will of God. We know this is true from the scriptures.

Romans 3:23 

23 for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

But how do we know if something is a sin or not? Of course, there are quite a few passages that have very clear lists of specific sins:

Romans 1

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Galatians 5:19–21

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

It is clear that there are PLENTY of things directly listed as sin, but there are still things which are obviously not listed that are included in this classification.

We can recognize sin a couple of different ways if there is no specific scriptural reference. A very wise member of our local congregation said recently “If Jesus were standing right here, would you do that particular thing? If the answer is no, then why would you do it anyway?” This can also be seen here:

2 Chronicles 16:9

9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth

There are a few other important passages that can help us determine if something is a sin.

1 Corinthians 10:31

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Romans 14:23

23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

Basically, if something cannot be used for the glory of God, or it does not come from a place of faith and goodwill towards the Lord, then it is sinful.


The next point I want to make about recognizing sin is this – if it bothers one of your brothers or sisters in Christ,


It may not hurt your conscience personally, but we should never harmfully influence or affect someone else – including provoking negative feelings from the other person (which we will cover in a later post about worldly judging versus judging righteous judgment).

Romans 14:21

21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

Romans 15:1

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Finally, the last point here – anything that takes priority in your life over the will of Our Father is sinful. There is no habit, recreation, or ambition that we can allow to control our lives. Only Christ has that authority.

1 Corinthians 6:12

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.

I’ve gone on longer than I normally like to, but this is a bit of a lengthy subject, so I apologize for the long post. Hopefully you as a reader can take what you’ve read here and study the word more on your own to determine what sins you may have in your life. We’ll talk more later about how to correct those things!


Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to like, comment, or share on Facebook. We always welcome feedback from those who are diligently seeking the Lord!


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