“What is sin?”
That was the question I asked when I first began to understand the all-important value of the Bible, and the reality of the Saviour Yahushua Messiah [the Hebrew name for Jesus Christ].
I’m not alone with this basic question, “What is sin?”
Those who have had little or no exposure to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, do not understand what God requires to walk with Him.
In my early years, I was far from any understanding of the Creator of the Universe. But, when I became Born-Again, and met the Saviour, Yahushua Messiah, then He opened my eyes. I began to understand the Scriptures, and my life changed dramatically.
As I studied the Words of the Bible, I had an internal, confirming ‘Yes!’ to the truth of the Scriptures! The words of the Bible corresponded to my innermost thoughts about countless things; thoughts I had previously pondered, yet chose to ignore and deny.
However, this question, “What is sin?” remained a mystery to me.
I knew that sin was something to avoid. But I wondered . . .
Was sin merely to ‘make a mistake’? Was sin overstepping of an invisible boundary? Was it a matter of ‘missing a target’? Was sin something that seemed bad to some, but was okay to others?
More important, “How does God define sin?”
I wondered what it meant for Yahushua to ‘take away my sin’ (1John 3:5).
And if I am to ‘confess my sin’ (1John 1:9), then I need to know what sin is!
It became clear to me that understanding ‘what sin is‘ was a basic and necessary factor if I was to ‘abide’ and remain within my relationship with my heavenly Father, Yahuwah Elohim [the Hebrew name for the LORD God].
The question persisted, “What exactly is sin?”
For me, the break-through came when I discovered a verse in the Bible, in 1John, chapter 3. It was there that I found God’s definition for sin:
Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1John 3:4)
That little verse made everything so much clearer!
Transgression means to violate or break God’s law or boundary. So now I understood — sin is violating or breaking God’s Law.
I soon learned that this English word ‘law’ stands for the Hebrew word ‘Torah’.
Sin is violating Yahuwah’s Torah.
I began to search, and learn what ‘Torah’ means. The Hebrew word ‘Torah’ means – Father’s loving teachings, instructions, and guidelines. The Torah is God’s eternal teachings, commandments, and instructions for His children!
Once I began to understand that the English word for ‘Law’ is the Hebrew word for ‘the Torah of Yahuwah’, then I began to truly understand what sin is! I began to understand that many times I had unknowingly committed sin. I had violated Yah’s Torah. But now, I could begin to avoid those things — by Father’s grace and mercy!
Transgression of the Torah
When we commit a sin, which is transgression of the Torah of Yahuwah, whether knowingly or unknowingly, we have gone our own way.
When we transgress, or violate, the Torah of Yahuwah, we have strayed off God’s pathway.
To stray off God’s pathway is basically to behave selfishly, or be SELF-centered.
In most cases, when we sin, we stubbornly refuse to follow God’s good and right way.
In other words, when we sin, we refuse to heed the inner sense of right and wrong that God has placed within each and every person. When we sin, we set our own selfish desires above what is righteous and good. All of us have done this. All of us have failed to stay within God’s pathway (Isaiah 53:6).
Our sin — our self-centered violation of Torah — separates us from Yahuwah Elohim.
Why are we separated?
Because God is holy, pure, righteous, and the sin-LESS Creator.
Sin is abhorrent and detestable to Yahuwah [the LORD]! Sin makes you and me unfit for fellowship with God — unfit for everlasting life (John 3:36).
Sin is entirely wicked, grieving and abominable to the Father, and therefore sin separates us from the presence of the pure and holy God:
But your iniquities [sins] have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)
Your sins have withheld good things from you. (Jeremiah 5:25b)
If I regard iniquity (wickedness) in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. (Psalms 66:18)
As the Scriptures tell us, our sins cause the Father to hide His face from us, so that He will not hear us.
But . . . because He loves us intensely, He does not want this separation!
Yahuwah, the heavenly Father, wants to END this separation between Him and us!
Thankfully, He has provided the remedy!
The Saviour, Yahushua Messiah, is God’s only remedy for our sinful behaviour.
Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ], is without sin. Yahushua did not violate Father’s Torah (1John 3:5). Therefore He is able, by His sacrifice on the cross, to completely remove our sin, end the separation, and restore our fellowship with God.
Yahushua came to redeem us [purchase us] by His precious blood (1Peter 1:18-19) and reconcile us to God!
Consequently, when we come to Yahushua with a truly repentant heart, and we confess to Him our transgressions, our selfish, sinful behaviour, then we can receive Father’s forgiveness and be cleansed from our sin:
If we confess our sins, He [Yahuwah] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9).
Yahuwah[the LORD] is near unto them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite [sorrowful] spirit. (Psalms 34:18)
As these verses tell us, it is our true repentance and brokenness over our sin that brings us back into closeness — back into a loving relationship with Yahuwah.
The next time we wonder or agonize over the question “What is sin?” — let us remember God’s definition of sin:
Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law [Torah]: for sin is the transgression of the law [Torah]. (1John 3:4)
With this definition, we need only to search the Scriptures [from the beginning, where the Torah begins], to see what we can do to avoid sin — avoid violating God’s Torah.
What God considers to be sin is so important for us to understand!
All of us, at one time or another [more often than we would like to admit], have committed sin, usually doing so with great selfishness, and often with ignorant enthusiasm (1Kings 8:46-47)!
But all of us should earnestly want to avoid sin!
Once we truly understand what sin is, we have a more perfect understanding of our need to learn God’s ‘Law’ — that is, learn and obey the ‘Torah’ of Yahuwah!
The Torah is Father’s instructions for His children (See Psalms 119:1-4; Psalms 119:34,100).
It is in the ‘Old Testament’ writings where we learn Father’s basic ‘House Rules’ [the Torah]!
With Father’s abundant help [His grace], we can be obedient to His written Word, and thereby, avoid separation from Him. That’s why He told us:
He which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [conduct or behaviour]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1Peter 1:15, 16)
We learn Father’s written Word, from the beginning, so we can begin to live a life that is holy — a life that is “set-apart unto Him” — a life that is truly pleasing to our heavenly Father:
My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. (Proverbs 23:26)
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. (1John 3:22)
Learning what is in both the Old and the New Testaments is essential to walking with Father, as the above verses teach us.
We begin by “observing His Ways” — learning and keeping Father’s instructions/commandments. Our obedience brings us into a greater understanding of what sin is and how to avoid it.
The FULL counsel of the Scriptures is essential to “observing His Ways”:
ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2Timothy 3:16).
For I delight in the law [Torah] of God… (Romans 7:22a).
These verses show that the apostle Paul understood his need for the instructions from the Torah.
And to maintain his closeness with Messiah, Paul knew the fundamental principle of 1John 1:7-9, which is based on ‘Old’ Testament Scriptures, one of which is Proverbs 28:13:
If we walk in the light, as He [Yahuwah] is in the light,
we have fellowship one with another,
and the blood of Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] His Son
cleanses us from all SIN [disobedience of Torah].
If we say that we have no SIN [disobedience of Torah],
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our SINS [our disobediences of Torah],
He is faithful and just to forgive us our SINS [our disobediences of Torah],
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
Showing Our Love
When we begin to learn what the Torah says — when we begin to truly desire to honour Messiah with our obedience, then we will begin to recognize our immaturity, and understand how selfishly sinful we are at times.
The immature demand to satisfy their consuming SELF-interest, which is the central motivation of sin.
To love and follow Messiah means we must learn to be as He is — self-LESS.
Being self-LESS is the central motivation of loving others (see 1Corthinians 13:4-8a).
Once we commit ourselves into Father’s loving care, He begins to works within us, building within us a desire to be obedient to His written Word. As we are obedient, we begin to understand how to show our love for Father and for others:
If you love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that says, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keeps His word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: hereby [by this] we know that we are in Him. (1John 2:3-5)
As these verses teach us, Yahushua Messiah — Who is the Living Torah, the WORD made flesh, (see John 1:14 and 6:32, 33, 48, 51) — He has told us The Way we can show our love for Him — by keeping His commandments!
Our obedience is the measure of our love for Him.
But even when we fail in our obedience, Father has graciously provided forgiveness for our sins whenever we confess and forsake them. The cleansing of our sins by the precious blood of Yahushua enables us to return to our closeness with Father, restoring our relationship with Him.
As we grow in our knowledge and obedience to Father’s commandments, we can, more and more, walk in what Yahushua calls “The Patience of the Saints”:
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Yahushua [Jesus]. (Revelation 14:12)
It is truly a delight and a blessing to be obedient to the Torah of Yahuwah. There are many wonderful things that Father has in store for His obedient children (see Deuteronomy 28:1-15)!
Knowing and keeping the Law [the Torah], is the central and vital key to doing those things that please Father (1John 3:22).
As I have said, it is in the Torah where we learn Father’s ‘House Rules’ for His family, and thereby we can learn and understand what sin is — the transgression of the law [Torah].
By knowing for ourselves what Father’s ‘House Rules’ are, we can seek to avoid sin, and maintain our relationship with Yahuwah.
Father wants to pour out His grace upon us to help us stay on His pathway! He is in charge of the process! So all we need to do is ask Him for His help, with a true and sincere desire (Matthew 7:7-8).
Once we call upon Him for His help, it is then . . . that He can begin to enable us to live a self-LESS life, helping us to keep ourselves pure, and avoid what sin is!
- If You Are Not Sure If You Born-Again, see: Good News
- “Sin No More”
- Learn More About Keeping His Commandments: That It May Be Well With You
- A Further Look in the Scriptures regarding Sin: Sin: According to the Scriptures
- Forgiveness: A Two-Way Street
- What Is The Purpose of The Torah?
- The Ten Commandments
- The Fountain of The Water of Life
- Be Ye Therefore. . .
- Turning From Darkness to Light – a key safeguard for Father’s children
- Overcoming Sin? Just Do It!
- Light Arises in the Darkness for the Upright