What is Sin?



The latest issue of the Free Grace Broadcaster arrived a few weeks ago, and finally, I have begun to make my way through it. Each quarter a new one arrives in the mailbox with a different theme. Last time it was “God-Breathed Scripture.” This one’s focus is “The Sinfulness of Sin.”

If you are unfamiliar with FGB, it is a digest of book excerpts and select sermons from prior centuries. Within its pages you’ll find spiritual giants such as Boettner, Bolton, Boston, Bunyan, Edwards, Flavel, Gill, Hodge, Lloyd-Jones, Murray, Newton, Owen, Ryle, Spurgeon, Warfield, Watson, Whitefield, and Winslow—to name just a few. Best part, you can subscribe online to receive it via email or snail-mail free-of-charge.

Page one has my attention. It is an excerpt from Arthur W. Pink’s The Doctrine of Sanctification, titled “What is Sin?”

freegracebroadcaster_sinWhat is sin? Ah, what man is capable of supplying an adequate answer: “Who can understand his errors?” (Psa 19:12). A volume might be written thereon and still much be left unsaid.

Only the One against Whom it is committed can fully understand its nature or measure its enormity. And yet, from the light that God has furnished us, a partial answer at least can be gathered. For example, we read in 1 John 3:4, “Sin is the transgression of the law”; and that such transgression is not confined to the outward act is clear from “the thought of foolishness is sin” (Pro 24:9). But what is meant by “sin is the transgression of the law”?

It means that sin is a trampling upon God’s holy commandment. It is an act of defiance against the Lawgiver. [Because] the Law [is] “holy, and just, and good” (Rom 7:12), it follows that any breach of it is an evil and enormity that God alone is capable of estimating. All sin is a breach of the eternal standard of equity. But it is more than that: it reveals an inward enmity that gives rise to the outward transgression.

It is the bursting forth of that pride and the self-will that resents restraint, that repudiates control, that refuses to be under authority, that resists rule. Against the righteous restraint of law, Satan opposed a false idea of “liberty” to our first parents: “Ye shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5). And he is still plying the same argument and employing the same bait.

The Christian must meet it by asking, “Is the disciple to be above his Master, the servant superior to his Lord?” Christ was “made under the law” (Gal 4:4), lived in perfect submission thereto, and has left us an example that we should follow His steps…

Sin, then, is an inward state that precedes the evil deeds. It is a state of heart that refuses to be in subjection to God. It is a casting off the divine Law and setting up self-will and self-pleasing in its stead.

How grateful is the Christian to be—knowing that he has been rescued through the death of Christ; secured in the forgiveness won at Calvary; freed from the power and penalty of sin! Oh, such a narrow escape for all who believe.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  (Matthew 7:13)

You can download a PDF of the entire summer issue here.