This will be the first post in a five post series on killing sin. My prayer is that it better equips you to engage in the war that sin has waged against your soul!
You may feel trapped by sin. You may know a friend that that has lost friendships and relationships due to sin. You may have watched people lose home and job and more due to sin. Sin is destructive. It is not only destructive on the physical level, but more so on the Spiritual level. It brings death (Romans 6:23; James 1:15). It may be you that struggle with sin. You may feel dead. You may feel enslaved. Sin does this. It is enslaving. You not only feel a lack of freedom, but a weight of enslavement. What are you to do? How do you defeat it?
Many years ago, John Owen penned the words, “Be killing sin, or sin be killing you.” It cannot be overstated how much we not only need to hear these words, but must heed these words.
How are we to heed these words? Well, we must first understand what sin is in order to do so.
Simply put, sin is missing the mark of godliness set by God himself, which we are all guilty of (Romans 3:23). Sin is action, but not action alone. Sin is acting on the desire and temptation that is brought on by both Satan and our own sinful flesh. If it were not for temptation, then sin would be nonexistent. Eve was deceived into sin, but not without temptation (Genesis 3:6). Cain killed Abel, but not without a desire to fulfill sin over righteousness (Genesis 4:7). The question is, what makes sin, sin? I will list two brief distinct, but complementary definitions:
Sin is action. The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3–17) are full of “do’s” and “don’ts” which inform us that sin is disobeying God’s law (1 John 3:4) by both commission and omission. This is not to confuse Christianity with some moral code without love. This would be to miss the point of the gospel. As sin is action, it is acting contrary to what God has intended for us to act as those created in his image (Genesis 1:26). It is interesting to see that before Paul lists the fruit of the spirit, he lists the work of the flesh. Though the fruit of the spirit are all attributes of a heart, the works of the flesh are all actions contrary to the heart of God (Galatians 5:19–23). Thus, sin is action, but not action alone.
Sin is intent. Jesus brings a radical new definition for sin. He says that both murder and adultery are matters that begin in the heart (Matthew 5:21–30). In his words, it is not only action, but intent. How could this be so? Remember in the Old Testament that God is One that focuses in on the heart, while man focuses on outer appearance (1 Sam 16:7). Intent is reflective of the heart. Action is simply acting upon the intent of the heart. It may be said that Adam and Eve’s first sin was not actually taking the fruit, but the heart that desired the fruit over God as seen in Genesis 3:6.
Though sin is so much more than this, our goal is to develop a concise understanding of sin to move forward from here.
Now that we have a working definition of sin, the next post will focus on a working definition of temptation and desire.