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  • Writer's pictureSusan

What is Sin?

Updated: Mar 30

The Bible tells us that sin is transgression of God's law (1 John 3:4), but when you boil it down, it's basically selfishness! When we put ourselves first instead of God or others, we cause pain and suffering. Other-centered love is the opposite of being self-centered and it is the way we were created to function in the best way possible. When our relationships with God and others are positive and healthy, it has a positive effect on us as well. We were designed to give and receive love in an unbroken circle of love and trust. Sin or selfishness only seeks after itself, and leads to a warped character and seared conscience. "Do what thou wilt" becomes the law for those who reject the principals of God's law.


Fortunately, God gave us a mirror that reveals sin in our lives. That mirror is the 10 Commandments. You can see where sin is in your life, but the mirror doesn't take it away. For that, you need a cleanser. Jesus, has the power to cleanse us from sin and prevent more from growing in our hearts. When we engage in a meaningful relationship with the Lord, the Holy Spirit works within us to transform us.


If you want to increase the magnification to really understand the heart of the 10 commandments, God gave us lenses of love,


  1. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.

  2. Love your neighbour as you love yourself.


If you filter the Ten Commandments through these lenses of love, you understand that love is the basis for the law. Literally, the commandments are a transcript of God's own character and He wants it to be the transcript of yours as well.


There is a story that Jesus told about a rich, young man who wanted to know what it would take to be saved. Jesus said, "keep the law". He asked which laws, so Jesus started naming off a few. The young man interrupted, saying he had kept all of them since birth. Jesus then upped the game. He told him to sell all he had and give it to the homeless. Jesus knew what was in his heart. He could obey the letter of the law, but could he take it to the next level? Could he be other-centered and trust God? That's a good question for all of us.


So are we saved by keeping the commandments? No, merely following the law does not have the power to save us, but falling in love with Jesus and trusting Him with our lives, causes a transformation to take place in our hearts. Only Jesus can save us, but then, the natural love response is to be other-centered in our thoughts and actions. We obey, not because we are coerced, threatened or forced, but because we are compelled by love.


Ten Commandments - Sin Detection


Another way to look at the Ten Commandments is as a diagnostic tool to detect sin in our lives. If you're sick, a doctor might need to use a diagnostic tool to figure out what's wrong. It isn't the cure, but it tells us what needs fixing. Take a look at the paraphrased commandments below to see how selfishness can infect God's laws.


  1. I am the Lord your God, don't put any other gods before me. God is infinite love and there is nothing bigger or better out there. If you worship something less than Him, you degrade yourself; we become, like what we worship. God is the highest ideal of love and He is infinitely good. Worshipping Him leads to limitless improvement throughout our whole lives! So what would motivate someone to degrade themselves? The answer, is selfishness. You see, God is selfless and He calls us to be like Him. In Jeramiah, we see that the Israelites chose to follow Molech, literally sacrificing their babies, rather than follow a God who would want them to selflessly help widows and orphans. We do much the same today. If a baby is inconvenient, we abort it. People are homeless all around us, but we spend an unbelievable amount of money on entertainment and fashion. Ethicists are pushing the boundaries every day on what should be acceptable for the "greater good". This really is the result of living a life total opposition to God's law. Putting Him first, would help us get our priorities in order and take care of others.

  2. Don't make things to worship or make others worship them. This seems ridiculous, but people do it all the time. They worship dead people, famous people, rich or beautiful people, money, animals, themselves. It's degrading and your highest, best self becomes only as good as the thing you're worshipping. Worshipping anything other than God, limits our ability to be the best we can possibly be.

  3. Don't go around saying you're a Christian, and treating people badly. God wants us to be loving and kind. If you are not being nice, then you're giving God a bad name. If you call yourself Joe Christian, but you're not acting like a Christian, that name, 'Christian' is being taken in vain.

  4. Take the Sabbath Day off and enjoy getting together with your friends and hanging out with God! This day is important because it shows what kind of God the real God is. He used His incredible power to create the world and everything in it for us. Then He showed that He values a relationship with us above everything else and he took the day to show us what kind of God He is. He also wanted to demonstrate that we could trust and depend on Him to take care of us and not depend on ourselves or our own works to save us. It reveals His character of love. We can worship on any day, and we can go to church on any day, but the Sabbath is a special day that reveals who God is. The Sabbath was given at creation for all of mankind. It's not a Jewish Sabbath. Jesus said that He is Lord of the Sabbath. Some people say it can be changed. That is not true. God's law is a natural law; kinda like gravity. When we don't live by it, we damage our relationship with God, our friends and ourselves. These things make us feel bad and damage our character. The Sabbath is reminder of who the real God is.

  5. Treat your parents with respect. Even if they don't deserve it. It doesn't mean that you have to suffer abuse from them. You can set healthy boundaries, but you don't have to be rude. Get help if you need it.

  6. Don't kill anyone - don't even think it!

  7. Don't sleep around - it really hurts people and damages your ability to bond with that special partner in the future. Again... don't even think about it. If you think about these kind of things, you eventually might try to act it out.

  8. Don't steal - It really makes people feel violated when something is stolen and it sucks to have to go out and replace it and sometimes it has special meaning and can't be replaced.

  9. Don't spread rumors - This hurts people and makes you look bad. You might think you're making yourself look better, but people eventually find out the truth and you just end up being the jerk.

  10. Don't be jealous of your friend's stuff! It just makes you feel crappy, and hurts your relationship. Celebrate that they have it and be content with what you have.


Sin is an Infection

When we have an infection, do we let it fester and spread it to others, or do we try to clean it up and contain it? I hope you do the latter... Sin is an infection and Jesus provided the cure. It's our choice whether or not to use that cure. Ultimately, healing is God's goal in our lives, emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Then He wanted us to share that with others. His law was never an arbitrary set of laws designed to restrict and punish. He has always wanted to bring us into reconciliation with Himself and others for our own healing. Each of His first four commandments deal with one of those four areas of healing.

Emotional - Worship God alone: Having no other God's above Him leads us to put everything in proper perspective in our lives. If we have a relationship with someone and they hurt us, we run to God to deal with the pain and He leads us back to reconciliation and forgiveness. If we put others on the pedestal above God, they have a long way to fall. Anything we place above God, robs us of the light God sees us in. We degrade ourselves and don't see that we are His precious children who He would lay His life down to save.

Physical - Don't make and bow down to idols: Your body is designed to be the temple of God! What we do with our body matters. As a loving parent, God doesn't want us to do anything that would degrade or harm us. We should be free from any man made idea or thing that enslaves us or brings harm to us physically.

Mental - Don't take God's name in vain: When we suppress the urgings of our conscience, we degrade our mental capacity to empathize and show mercy. When we are untrustworthy, we cannot trust. When we scheme to harm others, how can we believe that others might not want to bring to harm us. Being a Christian is more than a title. It means we have a relationship with God. If we only say we are Christian, but do not embody God's character, then the question should be, for what purpose?

Spiritual - Sabbath: The Sabbath indicates the type of relationship, God desires to have with us. The Lord of the Saba Oath wrote the law of love, so we could have a healthy, happy existence in a loving relationship with Him and others.


When we are whole in each of these four areas, we can love ourselves and love others as the rest of the commandments detail. None of these laws are arbitrary. These laws are the perfect transcript of God's character and indicate how He relates to us. This is His image that He wishes to imprint upon us. He does not want perfection of form or function with a bunch of cookie cutter Christians running about. He wants us to be free to express our individual style, creativity and tastes. Too often, we judge others based on external things and miss the boat entirely. These things are not an indication of sin. Sin, is a choice to not align with the God of love. It's a choice to be selfish and not allow yourself to be transformed by His Spirit. Perfection, is to embrace the God of love in a meaningful relationship, letting that love penetrate you to the point where you are transformed into His character of love. It's simply a choice. God does the rest...



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