Temptation Vs. Sin: What is Sin?

I think it is easy as Christians to beat ourselves up over every little time we have a sinful thought. Perhaps our problem might be not recognizing them enough. Not knowing whether something is a sin or just a temptation is a pretty tricky line to define. I am still not sure whether I am sinning sometimes. Hopefully these words over the next few weeks will help you and me further understand the evil that assails us.


First off, what is sin? 1 John 3:4 states, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Now, Paul states that Jesus set us free from the law. Paul says so much in Romans 8:1-4:


“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”


Jesus did what no other man has yet to do and lived the perfect life so that we would not have to do so. Jesus freed us from the law so that we would no longer condemn ourselves when we sinned. God’s sacrifice is the reason we no longer have to offer sacrifices. Jesus is the eternal sacrifice.


Now, if we are freed from the law, how is it possible that we can still sin? Well, Jesus’ death means that we can now live by the spirit. There is still the possibility, however, that we can live by the flesh. In the same chapter, Paul describes this paradigm in verses 5-8 thusly:


“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”


So, we can no longer be condemned for not living a perfect life, but we can be condemned for living a life of fleshly pursuit. Sin occurs anytime we put something of the flesh at a higher value than God. For instance, lusting after a man or a woman is putting them above God. In addition, the desire for the act of lust turns a person into an object where your desire is to use them for your own pleasure. Similarly, theft is when you value a possession more than God.


This week we have defined sin. Next week we will define temptation. In the third week, we’ll bring the two together and try to fully understand when we sin and when we overcome sin through Christ.
Photo via VisualHunt


I was born in Hickory, NC and I have been on a quest to share the glory of God. I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Appalachian State University in 2017. I hope to use my ability to write to spread the message of God throughout this world and try my best to embody the virtues befitting the kingdom of God.

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