The word “sin” appears 427 times in the King James Version of the Bible. That’s not counting appearances of all its derivations (sinful, sinner, sinning, etc.). The Biblical writers use nine Hebrew and three Greek terms in their discussions of it. It is central to the message of Scripture, and poses a potentially eternal threat to us all: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). In light of this, we do well to understand it.
Sin deceives (Hebrews 3:13). It deceives by promising more than it ever performs, by assuring of pleasures which is never really imparts: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4); “This will make you happy.” Lies from him who “is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). It deceives by leading us to believe that it won’t take us further than we intend: “Just this once.”; “I’ll keep it ‘under control’.” But what man ever thought he’d eventually gamble himself into bankruptcy when he decided the first time to spend an evening at the casino? What woman ever thought she’d eventually completely destroy her marriage when she first decided to flirt back? Sin is deceptive, all right…and addictive. The law of diminishing returns reigns. A little sin will lead to a lot of sin. And the chains of sin are too light to be felt until they are so strong you can hardly break them.
Sin defiles. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man…” (Matthew 15:19-20). Sin defiles (pollutes) us, and as a result, compromises our standing with God: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God…” (Isaiah 59:2). Even the Lord Jesus may have experienced a momentary separation of sorts from God as He hung on the cross, being made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). This we know, “that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). To live in sin is to walk in darkness and to be defiled. And the defiled have no place with God, now or in eternity (Revelation 21:27).
Sin deadens. Paul could honestly say to a hostile Sanhedrin that “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God” (Acts 24:16). Paul cared for his conscience. He handled his heart with care. He knew the consequences of doing otherwise. He wrote to Timothy of Hymenaeus and Alexander who had rejected a “good conscience”, and as a result, “concerning the faith…suffered shipwreck” (1 Timothy 1:19-20). He wrote in the same letter of false teachers who would have “their own conscience seared with a hot iron” because they repeatedly lied on purpose (1 Timothy 4:2). Persistent, willful sin deadens the conscience. The heart is not indestructible It can be driven to the point where it is “past feeling” (Ephesians 4:19). And when that happens, what hope is there?
Sin destroys. This is the ultimate danger. Sin left unrepented of, and unforgiven, leaves us open to the wrath of God. And “[i]t is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Under no circumstance is sin ever worth it. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This is true both spiritually (Ephesians 2:5) and eternally (Revelation 20:14). The price for “the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25) is just too high. Have you counted the cost?