Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law…He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:4,8)
There is scarcely a person living in the United States that has not heard the word “sin.” Those of us in Bible believing churches hear it often; perhaps in our church there is never a service that it is not mentioned. We hear it in Sunday School classes, in congregational singing, in prayers, and of course in sermons. If you were asked to give a definition of sin, could you easily define it? What is sin? These two verses help identify sin and define it. 1 John 3:4 says “sin is the transgression of the law” and verse 8 says that “sin is of the devil.” The first statement links sin to the law of God and the second links it to Satan, the arch enemy of God.
This simple definition tells us that sin is lawlessness. Whenever you break one of God’s commandments, you have sinned against Him. Most of the time we think of breaking the Ten Commandments and when going down the list we think we have done fairly well because we don’t have idols in our houses, we don’t curse (at least not often), we think pretty highly of mom and dad, we don’t shoplift, we haven’t killed anybody, and so on. So all in all, we are pretty good people.
The Bible teaches that sin is much deeper than a list of do’s and don’ts. Sin is a condition inherent in human nature, so that the attitude of our hearts is one of rebellion and lawlessness. To see if this is true, test yourself when you see a friend move into a really nice house or driving a new car. Is there a bit of envy there? Are there people at work that really get under your skin and sometimes you mumble under your breath that you would like to take them down a notch or two? These are expressions of the sinful nature and are just a smidgen of the hundreds of ways we transgress God’s law every day.
Rather than admit we are sinners, we either try to redefine sin or excuse it. It is not uncommon for people to reclassify sin as a simple mistake or to accept it and excuse it as being a part of our personality disorder. Some blame their childhood, some their environment—whatever they can do to avoid being personally responsible. None of this helps with the real problem. We can redefine and reclassify all we want, but it will not change the fact that sin is the transgression of God’s law and there is a penalty incurred because of it. None of us will escape the penalty if we are left alone to deal with it.
Here is the good news about sin and Satan who is the originator of it. Verse 8 says that Christ came to destroy the works of the devil. The devil’s work is sin and this means Christ is able to conquer sin and the one that instigates it. When we receive Christ as Saviour, His blood cleanses us from sin and the power of sin and Satan is broken.
The most important action you can take against sin is to stop excusing it and to trust in Jesus the only one that can help you. To do less is to face the penalty of transgression all alone. When this happens, no excuse will satisfy God.
Pastor V. Mark Smith