The following post is adapted from my upcoming new book “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans.” Romans is a beautiful exposition of the gospel. This Bible book not only answers the question “What is sin?” it also clearly shows how Jesus is the only answer to the problem of sin.

Our family enjoys playing Cornhole. This old game, which is enjoying renewed popularity in recent years, involves tossing bean bags at one of two large boards, each with a hole in the middle. Players get a single point for keeping a bag on the board and three points for getting a bag through the hole. In my experience, the game is much harder than it looks. I rarely win. When my bean bag falls short, I over compensate and fly over the board on the next toss. 

But, just a few weeks ago, I experienced my best game to date. My husband and I played against our son and daughter-in-law. Two of my first four tosses shot straight through the hole and the other two landed on the board. I kept that momentum throughout the game and carried us to a strong, decisive victory. But I’m not naïve. Although I did very well in that game, I know I’ll probably slip right back into Cornhole mediocrity next time. I’ll miss the mark more than I’ll hit it. (You may also be interested in “True or False? All Sins are the Same.“)

What is Sin?”

The Bible says that every person who has ever lived has missed the mark spiritually. The Greek noun translated “sin” in Romans 3 (verses 9, 20) literally means “a missing of the mark” (The Complete Word Study New Testament). Similarly, Chata, the primary Hebrew word for sin in the Old Testament means “being off target” or “coming up short of the goal” (The Complete Word Study Old Testament).

In his book on systematic theology, Wayne Grudem defines and describes sin like this:

Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature… Sin is directly opposite to all that is good in the character of God, and just as God necessarily and eternally delights in himself and in all that he is, so God necessarily and eternally hates sin. It is, in essence, the contradiction of the excellence of his moral character.

Sin is a universal condition. None is righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). Not one person is exempt from its effects or its death sentence. We are trapped by sin, held captive by its power. We cannot break free. We cannot work hard enough to free ourselves. We cannot do enough good works to earn right standing with God. We are all helpless sinners who desperately need to be rescued. 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Our condition sounds dire because it is. We stand before the divine Judge as condemned sinners. Without God’s intervention our situation is hopeless. But, thank God, there is good news! What we cannot do for ourselves, God has provided for us through His Son. 

Let’s talk: In what ways do you think people often misunderstand the meaning of “sin?” Was there anything about the definition that surprised you?

News about the newest Deep Rooted book!

Watch for the Launch Team Application

I need your help launching the latest volume of the Deep Rooted series! Next week we will asking for people to join the launch team! Come back here next week for a link to the application!

More about Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans

The 3rd volume of the Deep Rooted series will greet the world in early October. Like Mark and Acts, Romans will be formatted around the 4R Bible study method. Find out more about it here: “Deep Rooted Romans.” (You may also be interested in “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark” and “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Acts.“)

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