Category Archives: Sin Questions

Questions about Sin: What Does It Mean that All Have Sinned?

 

This phrase is found in Romans 3:23 (“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”) and in the last clause of Romans 5:12 (“… because all sinned”). Basically, the phrase means that we’re all lawbreakers, because sin is the violation of God’s law (1 John 3:4). Sinfulness is the general characteristic of all mankind; we are all guilty before God. We are sinners by nature and by our own acts of transgression.

In Romans 5:12 the point of “all sinned” seems to be that all humanity “participated” in Adam’s sin and were condemned to death even before they themselves deliberately chose to sin; in fact, that is exactly what Paul confirms in Romans 5:14. Within this passage (5:12–21), Paul explains how and why the “death sentence” for Adam’s sin has come upon the entire human race.

Augustine explained Adam’s transmission of his sin to us with a theory known as “federal headship,” a view held by most evangelical scholars. Augustine taught the concept of “inherited guilt,” that we all sinned “in Adam”: when Adam “voted” for sin, he acted as our representative. His sin was thus imputed or credited to the entire human race—we were all declared “guilty” for Adam’s one sin.

Another view is that the phrase “all have sinned” refers only to personal sin arising from our sin nature. After clarifying in 5:13–17 how personal sin is imputed and then spreads, Paul explains why “all die,” even if they have not committed personal sin. The reason all receive this “death sentence” (5:18a) is that, through Adam’s disobedience, all were “made sinful” (5:19a). The verb made means “constituted”; thus, the sin nature is an inherited condition that incurs a death sentence, even in those who are not yet guilty of personal sin (5:13–14). This inherited condition inevitably spawns personal sin when conscience matures and holds a person accountable as soon as he chooses to knowingly transgress the law (2:14–15; 3:20; 5:20a).

We are all sinners because Adam passed on his sinful condition that leads inevitably to our personal sin and death. All share Adam’s death sentence as an inherited condition (the “sin nature”) that is passed down to and through the human race and that every child brings into the world. Even before a child can be held accountable for personal sin, he or she is naturally prone to disobey, to tell lies, etc. Every child is born with a sin nature.

“The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God” (Psalm 14:2). And what does the all-seeing God find? “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (verse 3). In other words, all have sinned.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: If Homosexuality Is a Sin, Why Didn’t Jesus Ever Mention It?

 

Many who support same-sex marriage and gay rights argue that, since Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, He did not consider it to be sinful. After all, the argument goes, if homosexuality is bad, why did Jesus treat it as a non-issue?

It is technically true that Jesus did not specifically address homosexuality in the Gospel accounts; however, He did speak clearly about sexuality in general. Concerning marriage, Jesus stated, “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh[.]’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4–6). Here Jesus clearly referred to Adam and Eve and affirmed God’s intended design for marriage and sexuality.

For those who follow Jesus, sexual practices are limited. Rather than take a permissive view of sexual immorality and divorce, Jesus affirmed that people are either to be single and celibate or married and faithful to one spouse of the opposite gender. Jesus considered any other expression of sexuality sinful. This would include same-sex activity.

Also, are we to believe that any and every action is good unless Jesus specifically forbade it? The goal of the Gospels was not to give us a comprehensive list of sinful activities, and there are many obvious sins that are not found in the “red letter” section of the Bible. Kidnapping, for example. Jesus never specifically said that kidnapping was a sin, yet we know that stealing children is wrong. The point is that Jesus did notneedto itemize sin, especially when the further revelation contained in the Epistles removes all doubt as to homosexuality’s sinfulness.

Scripture is clear that believers are to have nothing to do with sexual immorality: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Sexual immorality, whether same-sex activity or otherwise, is a sin against a person’s own body.

It is important to note that sexual immorality, including same-sex activity, is listed alongside other sins in Scripture, indicating that God does not rank one sin as worse than another. While the consequences of some sins are greater than others, Scripture often simply lists sins side by side. For example, Jesus said, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19–20; see also Romans 1:24–31).

The Bible teaches that followers of Jesus are to practice sexual purity, and that includes abstaining from same-sex activity. In addition, unbelievers who practice homosexuality stand in need of salvation just like any other unbeliever. Christians are called to pray for those who do not know Christ, to serve others in love, and to share the message of Jesus with all people, including those involved in homosexuality.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: What Is the Difference between Iniquity, Sin, and Transgression?

 

In Psalm 32:5, the psalmist says, “I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’ ” In this one verse, “sin,” “iniquity,” and “transgression” are all mentioned. Basically, the three words communicate the same idea: evil and lawlessness, as defined by God (see 1 John 3:4). However, upon closer examination, each word also carries a slightly different meaning.

The word sin and its cognates are used 786 times in the New International Version of the Bible. Sin means “to miss the mark.” It can refer to doing something against God or against a person (Exodus 10:16), doing the opposite of what is right (Galatians 5:17), doing something that will have negative results (Proverbs 24:33–34), and failing to do something you know is right (James 4:17). In the Old Testament, God even instituted sacrifices for unintentional sins (Numbers 15:27). Sin is the general term for anything that “falls short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Sin leads to a downward progression that, without the restoring power of the Holy Spirit, we all tend toward. The sin nature is present in every human being born since the Fall of Adam (Genesis 3:6–7; Romans 5:12). If left unchecked, continual sin leads to a “reprobate mind,” spoken of in Romans 1:24. Our sin nature causes us to gravitate naturally toward selfishness, envy, and pride, even when we are trying to do good. The apostle Paul alluded to his propensity to sin when he wrote, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18).

The sin nature leads to trespassing. A trespasser is someone who crosses a line or climbs a fence that he should not cross or climb. A trespass may be intentional or unintentional. Trespass can also mean “to fall away after being close beside.” Peter trespassed when he denied Jesus (Luke 22:34, 56–62). We all “cross the line” in thought, word, or attitude many times a day and should be quick to forgive others who do the same (Matthew 6:15).

Transgression refers to presumptuous sin. It means “to choose to intentionally disobey; willful trespassing.” Samson intentionally broke his Nazirite vow by touching a dead lion (Numbers 6:1–5; Judges 14:8–9) and allowing his hair to be cut (Judges 16:17); in doing so he was committing a transgression. David was referring to this kind of sin when he wrote, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1). When we knowingly run a stop sign, tell a lie, or blatantly disregard an authority, we are transgressing.

Iniquity is more deeply rooted. Iniquity means “premeditated choice, continuing without repentance.” David’s sin with Bathsheba that led to the killing of her husband, Uriah, was iniquity (2 Samuel 11:3–4; 2 Samuel 12:9). Micah 2:1 says, “Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.” In David’s psalm of repentance, he cries out to God, saying, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:2).

God forgives iniquity, as He does any type of sin when we repent (Jeremiah 33:8; Hebrews 8:12). However, iniquity left unchecked leads to a state of willful sin with no fear of God. The build-up of unrepentant sin is sometimes pictured as a “cup of iniquity” being filled to the brim (Revelation 17:4; Genesis 15:16). This often applies to nations who have forsaken God completely. Continued iniquity leads to unnatural affections, which leads to a reprobate mind. Romans 1:28–32 outlines this digression in vivid detail. The sons of Eli are biblical examples of reprobates whom God judged for their iniquities (1 Samuel 3:13–14). Rather than repent, Eli’s sons continued in their abominations until repentance was no longer possible.

The biblical writers used different words to refer to sin in its many forms. However, regardless of how depraved a human heart may become, Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to cover all sin (John 1:29; Romans 5:18). Psalm 32:5, quoted at the beginning of this article, ends with these words: “And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” The only sin that God cannot forgive is the final rejection of the Holy Spirit’s drawing to repentance—the ultimate fruit of a reprobate mind (Matthew 12:32; Luke 12:10).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: What Is Wrong with Viewing Pornography, If I Don’t Lust after the Person?

 

First, it is good to recognize that lust is sin (Matthew 5:28; 1 John 2:16). However, is it also important to be honest with ourselves. Porn and erotica are meant to incite lust in the heart. The only reason pornography exists is that so many people give in to lustful thoughts. It is impossible to view pornography and not struggle with lust—the desire to have something or do something that conflicts with the will of God. Even if one is not lusting after the particular person in the picture or movie, he or she is harboring desires that conflict with God’s holiness. Viewing porn is always sin.

We are responsible to guard our hearts against lust (Proverbs 4:23). This is important because the result of letting down our guard can be fatal: “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14–15).

Trying to narrow the definition oflustor splitting hairs concerning the object of lust is a way to make sin seem more acceptable. We must remember the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). The flesh says, “I want this,” and God says, “No, it’s not good for you.” That’s when Satan steps in and says, “Maybe we can work out a compromise.”

If we desire something God has forbidden, we are lusting. Jesus said that lust in the heart is just as sinful in God’s eyes as the actual act of adultery (Matthew 5:27–28). God has blessed the sexual union of a husband and wife (Song of Solomon 5:1), and He has issued severe warnings against sex outside of marriage (e.g., Hebrews 13:4). No one has the right to look at the nakedness of another person—or to look lasciviously at a clothed person—unless he or she is married to that person.

It’s difficult to live purely in an impure world, and all of us struggle with this issue. We need the armor of God as we fight this battle (Ephesians 6:10–18). We should follow the example of Joseph, who, when confronted with temptation, ran away (Genesis 39:12; cf. 2 Timothy 2:22). We should commit to purity as Job did: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman” (Job 31:1). “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: Is Temptation a Sin? Is It a Sin to Be Tempted?

 

Temptation, by its very nature, feels wrong. God’s moral law is written in the heart of every human being (Romans 1:20), and when a sinful temptation is introduced, our consciences immediately sense danger. However, the temptation itself is not the sin. Jesus was tempted (Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1–13), but He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Sin occurs when we mishandle temptation.

There are two avenues by which we are tempted: Satan and our own sinful flesh. Acts 5 gives an example of someone tempted by Satan. Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, wanting to appear more spiritual than they really were, lied to the apostles and pretended they were giving as an offering the full price of some property they had sold. Peter confronted them: “How is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” (verse 3). In this instance, Peter knew that the temptation to lie had come from Satan. Ananias and his wife both gave in to that temptation (verses 7–10). The betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot is also attributed to Satan’s influence (Luke 22:3; John 13:2).

Ultimately, since Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the father of lies (John 8:44), all evil originates with him. However, our own selfish nature is an ally of Satan’s. We need no prompting from Satan to entertain sinful ideas. James 1:13–14 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.”

Even though we may desire to do good, we are all tempted. No one is above it, even someone like the apostle Paul. He shared his own struggle of flesh against spirit when he wrote in Roman 7:22–23, “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”

Temptation is not of itself sinful. It becomes sin when we allow the temptation to become action, even in our minds. Lust, for example, is sin even though it may never be acted upon (Matthew 5:28). Covetousness, pride, greed, and envy are all sins of the heart; even though they may not be apparent to anyone else, they are still sin (Romans 1:29; Mark 7:21–22). When we give in to the temptation to entertain such thoughts, they take root in our hearts and defile us (Matthew 17:19). When we yield to temptation, we replace the fruit of the Spirit with the fruit of the flesh (Ephesians 5:9; Galatians 5:19–23). And, many times, what was first entertained as a thought becomes action (see James 1:15).

The best defense against giving in to temptation is to flee at the first suggestion. Joseph is a great example of someone who did not allow temptation to become sin (Genesis 39:6–11). Although tempted to sin sexually, he did not give the temptation time to take root. He used the legs God gave him and physically fled. Rather than stay in a potentially dangerous situation and try to talk, reason, justify, explain, or otherwise weaken his resolve, Joseph took off. The temptation was not sin for him because he dealt with it in a God-honoring way. It could easily have become sin if Joseph had stayed around to try to match his wits and self-control against the power of the flesh.

Romans 13:13–14 (ESV) gives us a guideline for avoiding situations that can lead to temptation. “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” If we determine to “make no provision for the flesh,” we will keep ourselves out of situations that may prove too tempting. When we put ourselves in situations where we know we will be tempted, we are asking for trouble. God promises to provide a “way of escape” when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13), but often that way is to avoid the situation altogether. “Flee the evil desires of youth” (2 Timothy 2:22). Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:4), but we have a responsibility to pay attention to the direction God is leading us and avoid temptation whenever we can.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: What Is the Origin of Sin?

 

The age-old question of where and how sin began has been explored and debated by some of the greatest minds of history, yet no one can give a completely definitive or satisfying answer. Some, quoting Isaiah 45:7, seek to make God the author of sin: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (KJV). However, the KJV’s word evil, from the original Hebrew rah, is better translated as “calamity.” The context of this passage concerns God’s sovereignty over natural disasters. God is sovereign over all things (Exodus 4:11), but He is not the author of sin (1 John 1:5; cf. James 1:13). He hates sin (Proverbs 8:13). Moral evil originated with the creature, not the Creator.

John Calvin wrote, “The Lord had declared that ‘everything that he had made … was exceedingly good’ [Genesis 1:31]. Whence, then comes this wickedness to man, that he should fall away from his God? Lest we should think it comes from creation, God had put His stamp of approval on what had come forth from himself. By his own evil intention, then, man corrupted the pure nature he had received from the Lord; and by his fall drew all his posterity with him into destruction. Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity—which is closer to us—rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination” [Institutes, 3:23:8]. In other words, sin was not part of the original creation, nor was it decreed by the Creator’s will.

The first man, Adam, sinned, and his transgression spiraled mankind into sin, but this was not sin’s origin. Ezekiel 28:13–15 speaks figuratively of Satan, who was originally created without flaw, as all things created by God were. Verse 15 gives us a hint as to the origin of sin: “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.” Isaiah 14:12–14 further indicates that Satan (Lucifer) sinned in his pride and his coveting of God’s throne. When he rebelled against God, Satan was ejected from heaven (Ezekiel 28:15–17; cf. 1 Timothy 3:6).

Which brings us to the question, how did evil manifest itself in a perfect creature? It may be good to mention that evil is not a created thing—it is not a creature and has no independent being. Also, evil has no standard as goodness does; it is a lack, a deficiency, a falling short of the standard of God’s perfect goodness. All sin, no matter how trivial it may seem, falls short of moral perfection. God is always consistent with His perfect nature (Deuteronomy 32:4). All sin, therefore, must come from the creature, and the desire for evil comes from within the creature (James 1:14–15). Sin was “found” in Lucifer because of a choice that angel made to seek something other than what God had chosen for him. Any time we seek “other” than God’s choice, we sin.

To say sin originated within God’s creatures does not mean God was surprised or caught unaware by it. Although God did not bring about sin, He certainly allowed it or it would not exist, since God is sovereign over all things. It’s true that He could have prevented sin, but that would have meant stripping His creation of its free will (Daniel 4:17; cf. Psalm 33:10–11). All His ways are good. In Him is “no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), and He is right now working all things for His good pleasure (Romans 8:28; cf. Isaiah 46:9–10).

The mystery of evil and why God has allowed its reality with all of the suffering it causes may never be fully known in this world, but Scripture assures that evil is temporary. Once the culmination of God’s redemptive plan is complete, Jesus Christ will have destroyed the devil’s work forever (1 John 3:8).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: Why Is Every Sin Ultimately a Sin against God?

 

Sin often harms another person, but, ultimately, all sin is against God. The Bible is contains many references to people admitting, “I have sinned against God” (Exodus 10:16; Joshua 7:20; Judges 10:10). Genesis 39:9 gives us a closer look at this. Joseph was being tempted to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife. In resisting her, he said, “My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” It is interesting that Joseph did not say that his sin would be against Potiphar. This isn’t to say that Potiphar would be unaffected. But Joseph’s greater loyalty was to God and His laws. It was God he did not want to offend.

David said something similar after he had sinned with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). When confronted with his sin, David repented in great sorrow, saying to God, “Against You and You only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). He had clearly sinned against Bathsheba and her husband, too, but it was the violation of God’s law that grieved David the most. God hates sin because it is the antithesis of His nature and because it harms us or someone else. By sinning against God, David had also hurt other people.

When someone commits a crime, the person who was harmed by the crime is not the one who punishes the criminal. Only the state can legally mete out punishment. It is the law that judges a person guilty or innocent, not the victim. It is the law that was violated. Regardless of the worthiness or innocence of the victim, all crimes are ultimately committed against the established law. If you rob your neighbor’s house, you have obviously wronged your neighbor, but it is not he who holds you accountable. It is the higher law you have violated. The state bears the responsibility to convict and punish you; your neighbor, although affected by your crime, defers to the state.

In the same way, all moral law begins with God. Because we were created in the image of God, we have His moral law written within our hearts (Genesis 1:27). When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden, God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:22). At that time, no written law had been given. Yet Adam and Eve knew intuitively that they had sinned and ran to hide from God (Genesis 3:10).

We also know intuitively when we have sinned. Sin is a perversion of God’s perfect design. We all bear the very image of God Himself, and when we sin, we mar that likeness. We were created to be mirrors of the glory of God (Ephesians 2:10; 4:24; Hebrews 2:7). Sin is a big smudge on the mirror, and it diminishes the beauty and holiness we were designed to reflect. When we sin, we step outside the purpose for which we were created, thus violating God’s moral law, and we are accountable to Him for the trespass. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Sin is anything that falls short of God’s plan. So, whether it harms us or someone else, every sin is ultimately against a holy God.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: Is Sex a Sin?

 

In the proper setting, sex is not a sin. In fact, sex is God’s idea. In Matthew 19:4–6, Jesus states with godly authority, “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” The creation account is thus the foundation for the institution of marriage, which was validated by the Creator Himself and established to be a lifelong union between one man and woman.

The very fact that God created humanity as “male and female” reveals that we are created as sexual beings. And God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” cannot be fulfilled without sex (Genesis 1:28). Sex is a God-given mandate, so there is no way that sex is a sin if done with one’s lifelong marriage partner of the opposite sex.

The word sex is not found in the Bible. The numerous mentions of the word in society, and the world’s tendency to sneer, have given the word a certain amount of notoriety. But God never intended it to be a dirty word.

The Song of Solomon follows a loving relationship between a husband and his wife through the betrothal period, wedding night, and beyond. The description of the husband and wife’s pleasure in chapter 4 is discreet yet unmistakable in its meaning. That description is followed in 5:3 with God’s approval: “Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love.”

It is only outside of marriage that sex is sinful. God made it very certain that the marriage bed must be kept pure (Hebrews 13:4). Sexual activity outside of marriage is called fornication. First Corinthians 6:9–10 says, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men … will inherit the kingdom of God” Engaging in sex without the benefit of marriage is immoral, and “it is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:18).

If the Bible’s message on abstaining from sex until married were upheld, there would be far fewer sexually transmitted diseases, far fewer abortions, far fewer unwanted pregnancies and unwed mothers, and far few children growing up without both parents in their lives. Abstinence saves lives, protects babies, gives sexual relations the proper value and, most importantly, honors God.

In no way is sex between a husband and wife a sin. Rather, it is a beautiful expression of love, trust, sharing, and unity. Sex is God’s gift to a married couple for pleasure and procreation.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: What Is the Meaning of Debauchery?

 

Debauchery is the habitual and unrestrained indulgence of lust and sensuality. There are several places in Scripture where the word debauchery is used to indicate what we would today call “partying.” It encompasses several aspects of unholy living, including but not limited to sexual immorality, drunkenness, crude talk, and generally out-of-control behavior.

Examples of the use of debauchery in the Bible include

  • Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
  • 1 Peter 4:3, “For you have given time enough in the past to the doing of the things which the Gentiles delight in—pursuing, as you did, a course of habitual license, debauchery, hard drinking, noisy revelry, drunkenness and unholy image-worship.”
  • Luke 15:13, in reference to the lifestyle of the prodigal son, “No long time afterwards the younger son got all together and traveled to a distant country, where he wasted his money in debauchery and excess.”
  • Romans 13:13, “Living as we do in broad daylight, let us conduct ourselves becomingly, not indulging in revelry and drunkenness, nor in lust and debauchery, nor in quarreling and jealousy.”

Romans 13:14 goes on to contrast a debauched lifestyle with one that honors God: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” The idea of debauchery is always used in reference to the ungodly (Galatians 5:19). There is no support in Scripture for a Christian to engage in debauchery. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11). Those who are filled with the Spirit will not live in licentiousness.

Debauchery encompasses all that God hates (Romans 1:18), and it brings destruction in the end (Galatians 6:8). A Christian is one who has chosen to deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). The lifestyle of carnality and the lifestyle of spirituality are incompatible and therefore cannot coexist. First John 5:18 says, “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin.” Galatians 5:23 says that those saved from debauchery exhibit self-control. “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (verse 24).

Debauchery is the polar opposite of godliness. It characterizes those who do not know Christ, those who are on the “broad way” that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). No one who chooses a lifestyle of debauchery can also be a follower of Christ (Romans 6:1–2; 1 John 2:3; 3:10).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: Is Cyber Sex / Phone Sex a Sin?

 

The Bible nowhere mentions cyber sex or phone sex, obviously, because “cyber-anything” and “phone-anything” were not possible in Bible times. The Word of God does give us some principles that apply to activities such as cyber sex and phone sex. Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

There are many Scriptures which indicate that sex outside of marriage is a sin (Acts 15:20; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13,18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). Jesus Himself taught us that to desire something that is sinful is also sinful: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28). Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

Cyber sex and phone sex are, in essence, desiring something that is sinful (fornication or adultery). Cyber sex and phone sex are fantasizing about that which is immoral and impure. In no sense could cyber sex or phone sex be considered noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Cyber sex and phone sex are virtual adultery. They are fantasizing about a person lustfully and encouraging another person into immoral lust. They lead a person into the trap of “ever-increasing wickedness” (Romans 6:19). A person who is immoral in his/her mind and desires will eventually become immoral in his/her actions. Yes, cyber sex and phone sex are most definitely sins![1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: What Is a Sin of Omission?

 

James 4:17 declares, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” A sin of omission is a sin that is the result of not doing something God’s Word teaches that we should do. It is generally used in contrast with the corresponding phrase “the sin of commission,” or sins that a person actively commits. Paul juxtaposes the two concepts in Romans 7:14–20. He decries his tendency toward both types of sin. He does what he doesn’t want to do and knows is wrong—the sin of commission—and he doesn’t do what he knows he should do and really wants to do—the sin of omission. Here is a picture of the new nature in conflict with the flesh in which it dwells.

In the New Testament, the classic example given by Jesus is the account of the Good Samaritan. After a man had been beaten and left in need of help, the first two men to pass by—a priest and a Levite, both of whom knew better—failed to act. The third man, a Samaritan, stopped to show compassion to the man in need (Luke 10:30–37). Jesus used this example to teach that we are to likewise help those in need. By doing so, he clearly communicated that it is sinful to avoid doing good, just as it is sinful to pursue what is evil.

Jesus further describes the sins of omission in the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31–46. The goats, those who are sent away by Christ, are those who saw others hungry and thirsty, but did not provide food and water. They are those who saw others in need of clothing, who were sick or in jail but did nothing to clothe or comfort them. These are all examples of sins of omission. There was no sin committed against these needy people—they were not intentionally starved or deprived of their clothing. But the sin of omission was committed when those who could have provided for them chose not to.

Finally, the apostle Paul provides a summary statement that explains why we should do what is right and refrain from sins of omission: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). When we do the will of our heavenly Father (Matthew 12:50), we avoid sins of omission and live productive, fruitful living pleasing to God (Romans 12:1–2).[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: What Is the Greatest Sin?

 

No sin is greater than another sin in the eternal sense. All sin separates us from God and all sin needs to be atoned for. Also, there is no “greatest sin” in the sense of “mortal” and “venial” sins, as the Catholic Church teaches. All sins are “mortal” sins in that even one sin makes the offender worthy of spiritual death and eternal separation from God. At the same time, the Bible does state that on the day of judgment some sins will merit greater punishment than others (Matthew 11:22, 24; Luke 10:12, 14).

Jesus also referred to one sin being a greater sin (although not the “greatest”) than another in John 19:11. Speaking to Pontius Pilate, He said that the one who had handed Him over to Pilate was guilty of the “greater sin.” He meant that the guilt of the person who delivered Him to Pilate, whether Judas or Caiaphas, was greater than Pilate’s because of the deliberate and cold act of handing Jesus over after seeing the overwhelming evidence of His miracles and teaching, all pointing unmistakably to Him as the Messiah and the Son of God. That sin was greater than that of those who were ignorant of Him. This could indicate that those who have been given knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God and still reject Him would be subject to a greater punishment than those who remain ignorant of Him: “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9:41).

These incidents, however, do not prove that one sin is the “greatest sin” of all. Proverbs 6:16–19 is a catalog of the seven sins God hates and are detestable to Him: “. haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” But none of the seven is identified as a greater sin than any of the others and none is identified as the greatest sin.

Although the Bible doesn’t name any one sin as the greatest sin, it does refer to the unpardonable sin, which is the sin of unbelief. There is no pardon for a person who dies in unbelief. The Bible is clear that in His love for mankind, God provided the means of eternal salvation—Jesus Christ and His death on the cross—for “whoever believes in Him (John 3:16). The only condition under which forgiveness would not be granted concerns those who reject the only means of salvation. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), making it clear that He and He alone is the path to God and salvation. To reject the only means of salvation is unpardonable and, in that sense, is the greatest sin of all.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.