What is Sin?

So this will probably be another short one.  But I have been wrestling for a while now with the whole concept of sin.  What is sin?  I can go to the Bible and from there determine what actions and inactions are sinful, but is that really what sin is?  How does fit with the Gospel?  Jesus came to die, not from my wrong actions and/or inactions, but from my sin that condemns me to Hell.  But how can we call actions a heart condition?  We seem to teach something that is contradictory, like there is a disconnect between our doctrine of sin in reference to actions and our doctrine of sin in reference to salvation.  And this has bugged me.  If sin is merely to "miss the mark", to do what I ought not, or to not do what I ought, how can I be saved from it?  I still do things I ought not and fail to do that which I ought.  Even the Apostle Paul wrestled with this problem!  
But.  What is the mark that we are missing?  It is the mark the the Holy and Sovereign God of all the universe has established.  To sin is to, in essence, to rebel against the Almighty.  RC Sproul calls it Cosmic Treason.  I do believe this to be an apt term.  But it is not a reference to mere actions.  Men judge by actions, but God judges the heart.  And the root of sin lies in an idolatrous heart.  Idolatrous in the sense that when I choose to sin I have placed some person or thing in a place where my worship is directed to them, instead of the God.  And all of these in turn end up being self worship.  To quote Jonathan Edwards' Law of Free Will, “Free moral agents always act according to the strongest inclination they have at the moment of choice.”  So anytime I choose to sin, my hearts inclination, my hearts desire, the cry from within me is that I worship my desire as opposed to that of Almighty God.  To boil it down, the essence of sin is not what I do or don't do.  It is a condition of my heart.  A condition that worships me instead of worshiping Jesus.  And this deserves the wrath of God.  I posted a link to a DA Carson video, he goes over some similar comments, and he is far smarter and more articulate than I am.  I suggest watching it.


  1. Perhaps a good question for you is what is actions? since we are concerned with what you do or do not do and you have difficulty with that as a definition. An action is a directed movement from the will. Actions can be active or passive or even inactive...all directed by the will. Does the will direct the heart or vise versa? I think you are absolutley correct in your definition but it is also more. The attitude of the heart is personified in the action...much akin to faith without works is dead. Sometimes we train our hearts by the actions we take...that is a pure directive of the will knowing what is best to prune the heart and its evil desires. As lewis describes ( this is a paraphrase) when we become a christian we must often act in way that is christian in order to learn what it is...something that was not natural to us must be learned by doing irregardless of hearts actual feelings...that is a pure act of obedience to God and a baby step towards Him. All this supports your view...but perhaps fleshs it out in another light.

  2. Hm...indeed it does. Thanks for the thoughts.

    Oh, my mother also pointed out that my link didn't post, so here it is.


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