How can I know if an action is a sin?

Author: BibleAsk Team


What is the Definition of Sin?

The Bible defines sin as “lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Thus, sin is disregard to the law of God.  The Lord made laws to help men to enjoy life fully, to protect them from evil, and to keep them for good (Proverbs 29:18). God’s Moral law outlines and defines what sin is. For “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law” (Romans 7:7).

The law of God, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 30:3-17) is a transcript of His character, which is love (1 John 4:16). Christ summed up the law into two commandments which are love to God and love to man (Matthew 22:37-40). Sin does not only deal with the seen actions of a person but also with the motives of the heart (Matthew 15:19).

The change of men’s characters to copy the divine likeness is the great goal of the plan of salvation. The law shows the character of God; the plan of salvation gives grace for the acquiring of all virtues. Christ came to show to men the character of His Father. He is therefore the law demonstrated. If people wish to conduct their lives in line with the law of God, they must focus on Christ and imitate His life.

The following verses help classify some Sins:

These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

How Can I Know if an Action Is a Sin?

After checking the specific action with the law of God and you are still not clear, then ask yourself the following questions regarding that certain action:

  1. Is this action a good thing for me and others? Although a believer has the right to do anything that is in harmony with the will of God, he should avoid certain things that would not help others in their Christian walk (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).
  2. Will it glorify God? A Christian is to live mentally, physically, and spiritually as God leads, to the glory of His name, and not to fulfill the desires of the flesh (1 Corinthians 6:19–20; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
  3. Will it be a stumbling block to others? A Christian should not put a stumbling block in the path of a weak believer (Romans 14:21 also Romans 15:1)
  4. Are my own desires submitted to the Lord’s will? A Christian must remember that in his life, his faith in God is to be the main influence above all others (Colossians 3:17; Romans 14:23).

God promised to give all believers all the wisdom they need to know His will regarding sin. So, claim His promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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