Monday, January 29, 2007

That Sin Thing

Recently, I got in a conversation with Andre Yee, where we tried to define sin. He had a good definition... it's the breaking of God's moral law.

Still, I thought it would be worth extending the conversation. So, I'm here to ask, what do you think sin is?

My basic definition is that it's when we show ingratitude to the God who created and sustains us. In other words, if I abuse or neglect myself or even elevate myself in certain ways, I'm not being grateful for God's hand in making and keeping me.

Preventing someone else from acting with gratitude (causing them to abuse or neglect themselves) would also be sin. (Interesting that the Sabbath laws originally provided for this... slaves and animals were also to be given a day off... "owners" who didn't go along with this were guilty of Sabbath-breaking, a high crime).

Anyhow, what do you think? What is sin? And let's see if we can stay away from theological terms, just for the fun and challenge of it.

Sculpture by Stefani M. Rossi Used with permission.


Blogger For now... said...

A speaker I admire always says sin is active rebellion and/or passive indifference to God and His law.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Sin is depending on myself (independence), even to serve God. And leaving God behind, in the equation.

Sin also means not accepting the help of others (not being interdependent). Nor really reaching out to help them, while being too wrapped up in self.

Thanks for challenging us not to use theological terms. Hopefully I did okay there.

I do like your thoughts on it. Great point. Relational both to God and others.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Ex-Shammickite said...

Sin.... something that I know in my heart is wrong and I am ashamed afterwards. Sinning against myself, or others.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Sin is "me, me, me."
And..."Me do it!" (Cause I know it all)
Sorta like a 2 year old...

10:24 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

Sin is selfishness--I want to do what I want to do, regardless of the effect on others (myself, God, and fellow-man). Sin is arrogant--I know better than God.

8:06 AM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

sin, to me, is anything that distracts me from God...or something i make a priority over Him. there are definitaly the obvious sins, as in breaking God's laws.... but i think we each have other things that aren't so black and white. and there can even be things in my life that aren't sinful for other people b/c that person can have it in their lives without it becoming a distraction or idol, and vice versa.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Let's see, maybe anything I do or don't do that hurts another, whether God or creation - sort of the reversal of the two greatest commands. I like Ted's definition(s) about indepedence from God and others. I absolutely agree.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

"Have sinned" implies an action on my part.
"Fall short" implies not being up to a standard.

I think sin is not only doing or not doing something, it's also a matter of being one thing (human, flesh, fallen) and not being something else (God, spirit, holy).

Elementally, sin is the fact that I am not God. Not in deed, character or person.

1:32 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

for now... so, what do we define as God's law?

ted... independence... well, isn't that sort of in line with "Declaration of..."? Is there anything positive about independence?

exS... I find it interesting that some sin seems to have no effect on our "hearts"... in other words, if we felt bad or ashamed, we might stop, but sometimes we don't even feel bad... so, who's to say that what we're doing is sin then?

Andrea... spoken like the true mom of a two year old (or thereabouts)

Llama... maybe a similar idea, then, to what Ted was saying?

blue... interesting thought... by distracted I'm assuming you don't mean temporary thoughts about other things we really need to think about (like how to get our teeth brushed and our kids dressed in the morning?)... distraction then is....? Tell me more.

Heather... reversal of two greatest commands. I bet that's broad, yes?

1:32 PM  
Blogger Craver VII said...

I would say it's anything that stinks to God. Anything that He finds offensive, whether thought, word, deed, and even the omission of something he requires.

Ahem: Talkin 'bout sin "just for the fun of it??" Tsk-tsk-tsk; LL, really!

2:30 PM  
Blogger For now... said...

L.L. - "so, what do we define as God's law?"- what God has revealed to us in order that we keep Him first in our lives. As bluemountainmomma said "there can even be things in my life that aren't sinful for other people b/c that person can have it in their lives without it becoming a distraction or idol, and vice versa".

3:20 PM  
Blogger Jim Martin said...

I would say that sin is bascially pride. I either act independant of God or think I know what I need, even if God does say it is wrong.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Charity Singleton said...

Wow, I'm getting in on the discussion pretty late. Here's my similar ideas to what has already been said: sin is anything I do that fails to acknowledge God's role(s) in my life. If I destroy without thinking, I have offended the Creator. If I break laws, I have defied the king. If I rebel against punishment, I ignore God's fathering.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Maybe I'm on some kind of kick. But I think not. Well, it depends on your definition and what you mean. Certainly you don't want a young child not being able to walk on their own. And that is a kind of independence, to be sure.

What I'm getting at is more like an absolute independence, that either denies any need of God, or denies the need of help from other people (or, as church, from other churches).

6:32 PM  
Blogger andre said...


Thanks for carrying on the conversation. It must seem strange to want to extend a conversation on the topic of sin but I'm glad you did. It's fundamental to understanding just how good the "good news" is.

An earlier comment offered "active rebellion and/or passive indifference..." I like how the both active/passive elements are drawn out.

Great discussion - may it further our appreciation of the good news

7:08 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

I think sin is "thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to think." Romans 12 is a key passage for me.

For the record, I don't think independence is a sin. Now self-reliance is a different matter. Darn Emerson!

12:17 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I like Mark Goodyear's distinction between independence and self-reliance--although if we are truly God's creatures, I suppose it's not inherently possible for us to be TRULY and inherently independent.

If God is love then I would say (as Heather implied) that it's anything which denies, inhibits or perverts love of God and people. Of course, then maybe we need to define what "love" actually is . . .

12:18 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Jen, I like that... about love. In Exodus, God describes his glory to Moses as being "slow to anger, compassionate and merciful" and so on. Perhaps sin is a failure to love with the glory that is God's. So, I guess it's worth rereading that Exodus passage!

12:23 PM  
Blogger AIMEE said...

I have heard sin defined as
"I want my way and not God's way"
and also have heard that in the Greek it was an archery term meaning "to miss the mark"

6:32 PM  

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