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What Is Sin? (1 John 3:4)

Introductory Thoughts

The scripture provides several examples of sin. According to Proverbs 21:4, “An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.” Proverbs 24:9 adds, “The thought of foolishness is sin.” Romans 14:23 says, “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” James 4:17 declares, “to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” 1 John 5:17 broadens the scope by stating that “All unrighteousness is sin.” Although all of these thoughts serve to help man’s understanding of sin, none seem to completely identify exactly what constitutes sin. However, First John clearly and definitively defines sin: “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): We sin when we disobey God's commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). Read what David said when he broke the sixth and seventh commandments (2 Samuel 12:9, 13a); Achan when he broke the eighth and tenth commandments (Joshua 7:20-21); and Saul when he broke the first commandment (1 Samuel 15:24). Have you ever broken the fifth commandment? Then that is sin.
  • (For everyone): What is the relationship of sin and the law of God? Why does law have to exist before there can be sin? What kind of laws did God have in place before the law of Moses?
  • What are some things you would consider to be sin? Which laws of God are violated by these actions?

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask God to give you a greater understanding of sin.
  • Ask the Lord to give you His hatred for sin.