TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  General

Set/Reset Bookmark

Go to Bookmark

Chapter 9  Part I


Knowing what sin is and what its consequences are is vital to understanding God’s relationship with humankind and to appreciating the need for Jesus Christ’s mission. It also helps us not to sin by: clarifying what sin is (which this chapter does in general terms); and providing great motivation to avoid sin.

What Sin Is

Sin is breaking God’s law

1Jn 3:4  Whoever sins is guilty of breaking God’s law, because sin is a breaking of the law.  GNT

Neh 9:29  [Levites, to God:] And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey.  ESV

Even unintentionally breaking God’s law is sin

Lev 4:27  [Moses, to the Israelites:] If any person in the community sins by accident and does something which the Lord has commanded must not be done, he is guilty.  NCV™

Doing evil is sin

Ps 51:4  [David, to God:] Against you – you above all – I have sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. So you are just when you confront me; you are right when you condemn me.  NET

All wrongdoing is sin

1Jn 5:17a  Doing wrong is always sin …  NCV™

Not doing what we should do is sin

James 4:17  So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin.  NET

 Questions for Section A

Sin Is against God

Sin is action against God

Lev 26:40  [God, speaking of his wayward people:] But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, …  ESV

Neh 1:6b-7  [Nehemiah, to God:] I am confessing the sins of the Israelites that we have committed against you – both I myself and my family have sinned. 7We have behaved corruptly against you, not obeying the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments that you commanded your servant Moses.  NET

Even acting wrongfully against other people is sinning against God

2Sam 12:10, 13a  [God, to David:] So now the sword will never depart from your house. For you have despised me by taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own!’13Then David exclaimed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord!”  NET

Sin is rebellion against God

Ps 5:10b  [David, to God:] Drive them out of your presence because of their many sins and their rebellion against you.  GNT

David correlates “their many sins” with “their rebellion against you”.

Fo sin involves: turning away from God and his commands; . . .

Isa 59:12b-13a  [Isaiah, speaking on behalf of his people:] Our sins testify against us. Our rebellious acts are with us. We know our wrongdoings. 13We have rebelled and denied the Lord. We have turned away from our God.  GW

Dan 9:4-5  [Daniel:] O Lord, great and awesome God who is faithful to his covenant with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5we have sinned! We have done what is wrong and wicked; we have rebelled by turning away from your commandments and standards.  NET

. . . and going our own way

Isa 53:6  We have all strayed like sheep. Each one of us has turned to go his own way, and the Lord has laid all our sins on him.  GW

Sin is hated by God

Isa 61:8a  For I, the Lord, love justice and hate robbery and sin.  NET

Zec 8:17  Do not plan evil in your hearts against one another. Do not favor a false oath – these are all things that I hate,’ says the Lord.  NET

God can be grieved by sin

Ps 78:40  [A psalmist, speaking of Israel’s rebellion against God:] How they rebelled against him in the desert, grieving him in the wilderness!  ISV

 Questions for Section B

Sin Is Universal

All people have sinned

1Ki 8:46a  [Solomon, to God:] When your people sin against you—and there is no one who does not sin …  GNT

Rom 3:23  All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.  CEV

The expression “fallen short of God’s glory” most likely means that all have failed to measure up to a standard compatible with God’s glory.

No one is righteous before God

Ps 143:2  [David, to God:] Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no living person is righteous in your sight.  ISV

People have a sinful nature . . .

Gal 5:24  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires.  GNT

Ps 51:5  [David:] Look, I was guilty of sin from birth, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.  NET

. . . People have minds inclined towards evil

Gen 8:21a  And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma [from Noah’s offerings] and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, even though the inclination of their minds is evil from childhood on.  NET

People are led into sin by their sinful nature . . .

Rom 7:18-19  [Paul:] I know that nothing good lives in me; that is, nothing good lives in my corrupt nature. Although I have the desire to do what is right, I don’t do it. 19I don’t do the good I want to do. Instead, I do the evil that I don’t want to do.  GW

. . . People are led into sin by their corrupt hearts and minds

Mark 7:21-22  For from within, out of the human heart, come evil ideas, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22adultery, greed, evil, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, and folly.  NET

Rom 8:7  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.  ESV

The term “the flesh” refers to people’s sinful nature.

Note: God is aware of all sins . . .

Jer 16:17  [God, speaking of the people of Judah:] For I see everything they do. Their wicked ways are not hidden from me. Their sin is not hidden away where I cannot see it.  NET

. . . and God remembers sin

Hos 7:2  [God, speaking of the people of Israel:] They do not realize that I remember all of their wicked deeds. Their evil deeds have now surrounded them; their sinful deeds are always before me.  NET

 Questions for Section C

Sin’s Intrinsic Ill Effects


Ezra 9:6  [Ezra:] I prayed, “My God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are so many. They are higher than our heads. Our guilt even reaches up to the sky.  NCV™

Spiritual defilement . . .

Ezek 14:11a  [God:] I will do this to keep the Israelites from deserting me and defiling themselves by their sins.  GNT

. . . Spiritual uncleanness

Ps 106:39  Thus they [sinful Israelites] became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds.  ESV

Separation from God . . .

Isa 59:2  [Isaiah, to the people of Judah:] But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God; your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers.  NET

Because sin defiles us and makes us spiritually “unclean”, it necessarily separates us from God. For God is holy – set apart from sin and consequent spiritual “uncleanness”.

. . . and spiritual death

Col 2:13  [Paul, to believers:] When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins.  NCV™

This verse refers to what is known as spiritual death. Spiritual death involves being cut off from God – “dead to God” – without his Holy Spirit, who brings spiritual life.

Enslavement to sin

John 8:34  Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin.  NET

Rom 7:14-15  [Paul:] For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin. 15For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate.  NET

Foolishness and spiritual darkness

Rom 1:18, 21-22  God’s anger is revealed from heaven against all the sin and evil of the people whose evil ways prevent the truth from being known. … 21They know God, but they do not give him the honor that belongs to him, nor do they thank him. Instead, their thoughts have become complete nonsense, and their empty minds are filled with darkness. 22They say they are wise, but they are fools; …  GNT

The “truth” (v. 18) is the truth about God revealed to all through the testimony of creation (cf. vv. 19-21a). By sin and evil, such people suppress the truth – from themselves as well as others. Verses 21-22 further demonstrate that ungodliness, with its disregard of God, leads to spiritual darkness and foolishness.

 Questions for Section D

Sin Brings God’s Judgment – Ultimately Death

When one sins, one becomes guilty

Lev 6:3-4a  If you find something that someone lost and lie about it under oath, or commit any other sin like this, 4you are sinning and will be guilty.  GW

Sin makes one subject to God’s anger

Eph 2:3  Actually all of us were like them and lived according to our natural desires, doing whatever suited the wishes of our own bodies and minds. In our natural condition we, like everyone else, were destined to suffer God’s anger.  GNT

Here Paul refers to how all people have lived sinful lives, making them subject to God’s anger.

God’s anger against sinners is manifested in judgment

Isa 13:9, 11  Look, the Lord’s day of judgment is coming; it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, destroying the earth and annihilating its sinners. …[God:] 11I will punish the world for its evil, and wicked people for their sin. I will put an end to the pride of the insolent, I will bring down the arrogance of tyrants.  NET

Sin results in physical death

Rom 5:12  Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, so death spread to everyone, because all have sinned.  ISV

People may experience God’s wrath and judgment for sin in various forms during their lifetime, but common to all is the judgment of physical death. Note the reference to death initially coming as a consequence of Adam’s original sin.

Sin brings the prospect of eternal “death”

Rom 6:21, 23  [Paul, to believers:] So what benefit did you then reap from those things that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death.23For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  NET

Particularly in view of the contrast with “eternal life” (v. 23), “death” (vv. 21, 23) appears to primarily refer to or at least encompass what is sometimes referred to as eternal “death”. Because of his justice God demands that unforgiven sin be punished with eternal “death” or destruction, involving eternal separation from God in hell. A complementary reason for this “death” is that sin makes separation from God necessary, because of his holiness.

 Questions for Section E

Pray for persecuted Christians