This is difficult to address. I’m not a finger-pointer. I’m too aware of my own sins to be concerned with the sins of others, whatever they may be. As a pregnant teen, I had too many people talking about my sexuality and condemning me for it. As a daughter, mother, wife, sister, and friend, I’ve made too many mistakes to point fingers. I don’t make assumptions about others.
Therefore, I’m uncomfortable wading in where God shows no timidity, and that is in the area of naming and defining sins. Why does he name these sins? Why make lists? Because we honestly have no idea that we’re sinning most of the time. Our sins are often engaged in with no comprehension of our abject brokenness or of what God has forbidden. That’s incredibly important, because we must deal with our sins in order to be in a right relationship with God.
“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15 NLT).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NLT).
I don’t know about you, but I want life everlasting, rather than death. To have that, my sins must be addressed. Thankfully, God loved the world and all the people in it so much that he gave his own Son so that whoever of us believes in him need not perish in our sins but can have everlasting life. All we need do is turn from our sins and embrace Jesus in faith and trust.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Romans 3:23-24 NLT).
We are now in the age of grace that is available in Jesus Christ. In ancient history, however, God was in the process of revealing himself to everyone associated with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the ones he had chosen to comprise Jesus’s family tree. All the neighboring nations witnessed this as they watched God’s interactions with Abraham’s family.
God is holy. Our sinfulness, therefore, is our main human problem. During that time in history, God made lists of sins, emphasizing the sinfulness of certain actions, because all the world was pagan, each tribe governing themselves according to their own instincts. No one knew their behavior was displeasing to God. Sin hurts or harms us and others, sometimes irreparably, and so, God addressed sin and told them what was sinful.
According to the ancient historian Herodotus, sin habits were spread tribally at that time, as one tribe conquered another. A tribe’s own unique sins, such as pederasty or incest, that had never been practiced in the surrounding cultures, became commonplace once that tribe had conquered its neighbors. Herodotus specifically noted this in tribes conquered by the ancient Greeks. Yes, sin is often learned behavior. Our broken human natures grab it up, because sin entices us.
God knew this. Clearly. And so, he made precise lists of what exactly comprised sin, so that his people could discern and know how to deal with their behavior. Otherwise, they didn’t know they were sinning. That may sound ridiculous if we’ve grown up aware of the Bible’s definitions of sin, but if we haven’t, it’s a relief to see those lists. We then recognize why our consciences have been troubled. We then can confess and be relieved as God washes us clean with his forgiveness of any and all of our sins.
Unfortunately, just like us, God’s people then often adopted the sins of the surrounding cultures anyway, feeling comfortable right where they were. Therefore, these lists seem necessary again as we likewise struggle. Our culture embraces many types of behavior that God’s Word calls sinful.
Here are a few of the Old Testament lists of various types of sins:
Those lists were given to Israel as they left Egypt, where they had resided for four hundred years. Why? Because a majority of the practices of the ancient Egyptians were considered to be sinful by God, as was also the case among all of the tribes in Canaan, where he was sending them. That being the case, God gave them a clear-cut way to determine right from wrong when they lived among those who didn’t worship him. Muslims, Jews, and Christians still refer to these definitions.
At the same time, God also provided rituals that involved sacrifice as well as prayers for forgiveness, so that every sinner could turn to God and receive the forgiveness offered. “In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 NLT).
So, grace was there, but it became more apparent when Jesus came to make the final sacrifice, the only perfect sacrifice, the offering of his own lifeblood to pay for all our sins. After Christ lived, died, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven again, even the defining of sin took a new form.
In the New Testament, which was written after Jesus came, each list of sins contains an immediate description of God’s grace and forgiveness for those sins, no matter what sin is described. New Testament sin lists are wrapped in grace. Also, the sins are listed all together with no differentiation. For instance, we may have “murder” and “gossip” in the same list of sins.
A sin is a sin. We can be forgiven for all of them. God makes this clear.
Here’s one example. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, a short list of a variety of sins is given—a sin is a sin, and then God immediately states this concerning all of those sins, “Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NLT).
In the New Testament, God makes it easy for us to know what we’re doing that’s making us miserable and guilt filled—the sin is named, and he also makes the solution immediately known, plain and simple: Call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who paid for our sins with his own blood. And then the Spirit will transform us and cause us to grow in holiness.
Here are some of those New Testament sin lists:
Many of us are listening to the voice of our culture, like people always have, rather than listening to the voice of the eternal God. Then, comfy with these norms, we remain in our sins, rather than turning and being reconciled to God. Because God is merciful, he tells us what behaviors, actions, and attitudes are sinful, so that we can turn from them and be forgiven. That’s why I’ve provided links to his own words. I don’t offer my own opinion.
I’ve committed sins on every one of those lists. So have we all. None of us have any right to judge others for their specific sins. When it comes to defining sins, I’m going to stick with God’s definitions and allow his words to speak to me. Read what he says. Talk to him about it.
He’s the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe, the only One with the right to define sins. As such, he helps us to overcome our broken selves and provides a way of escape through Jesus Christ his Son.
God is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe, the only One with the right to define sins. As such, he helps us overcome our broken selves and provides a way of escape through Jesus Christ his Son. Click To Tweet
Did you realize that accepting God’s grace and forgiveness for your sins was this simple?
Did you know that you could receive forgiveness for absolutely every sin you’ve ever committed or even wanted to commit?
Do you see cultural viewpoints creeping into your own heart?
Do you recognize the creeping spread of sin in every culture, including ours?
The comment string below is available, if you want to talk about this. Please demonstrate the kindness and mercy of Christ with your words.