By Hank Hanegraaff

While it has become politically incorrect to talk about sin, the Scriptures make it crystal clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Sin originally entered the world as a consequence of the fall—a fall which originally took place in the angelic realm, subsequently in humanity, and then pervaded the entirety of creation. From the time of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, humanity has had a predisposition toward sin (Romans 5:19). This, of course, does not imply that Adam’s guilt was imputed to his posterity. Rather, we all suffer the consequences of ancestral sin (Deuteronomy 24:16). Which begs the question, “What is sin?”

First, sin is not just murder, rape, or robbery. Sin is a sickness by which we fail to do the things we should and do those things we should not. In short, sin is a word that describes anything that fails to meet God’s standard of perfection. Thus, sin is the barrier between you and a satisfying relationship with God. Just as light and dark cannot exist together, neither can God and sin.

Furthermore, sin is a barrier between us and other people. You need only read the newspaper to see how true this statement really is. We live in a time when terrorism abounds and when the world as we know it can be instantly obliterated by nuclear aggression.

Finally, sin is the deprivation of good. As such, sin is characterized by a lack of something rather than being something in itself. As noted above, sin is a break in relationship with God and with others rather than being an ontological substance.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:1–7

For further study, see Michael Pomazansky, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, trans. and ed. Seraphim Rose (Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2015).


Sin is failing to do the things we should . . .

Sins of Omission

Failing to believe in Jesus (John 3:16–18; 6:29; 1 John 5:12)

Failing to love God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:30)

Failing to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)

Failing to trust God (Proverbs 3:5; Isaiah 26:4)

Failing to worship God (Deuteronomy 6:13)

Failing to honor God (Proverbs 3:9; John 5:23)

Failing to honor the Son (John 5:23)

Failing to honor one’s parents (Exodus 20:12)

Failing to give thanks to God in everything (Psalm 105:1; Romans 1:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Failing to glorify God (Psalm 34:3; Romans 1:21)

Failing to fear the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:13; Proverbs 3:7)

Failing to do the good one knows one ought to do (James 4:17)

Failing to test new teaching by Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:21; Acts 17:11)

Failing to discern and guard against false teachers and prophets (Matthew 7:15–20; Acts 20:28–31)

Failing to learn and believe Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:6; 2 Timothy 2:15)

Failing to guard life and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16)

Failing to repay debts (Romans 13:7)

Failing to care for orphans and widows in distress (James 1:20)

Failing to defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15: Jude v. 3)

Failing to share the gospel (Matthew 28:19)

Failing to honor others (Romans 12:9)

Failing to keep your fervor (Romans 12:9)

Failing to serve or give (Romans 12:9)

Failing to live at peace (Romans 12:18)

Failing to be clear-minded and alert (1 Peter 5:8)

Failing to rejoice (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

Failing to pray without ceasing (Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Failing to pray for fellow believers (James 5:16)

Failing to forgive (Matthew 6:15)


and doing those things that we should not.

Sins of Commission

Idolatry (Exodus 20:3–6; Romans 1:21–25; 1 John 5:21)

Blasphemy (Mark 3:29)

Misusing the Lord’s name (Exodus 20:7)

Covetousness (Exodus 20:17; Romans 1:29; 7:7; 13:9)

Wrong teaching (Matthew 23:15; Galatians 1:8; James 3:1)

Insincere love (Romans 12:9)

Causing someone else to sin (Mark 9:42)

Sexual impurity (Matthew 5:28; Romans 1:24)

Adultery (Exodus 20:14; Hebrews 13:4)

Homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9)

Selfish ambition (Galatians 5:20)

Fits of rage (Galatians 5:20)

Slave trading (1 Timothy 1:10)

Lying (Exodus 23:1; Romans 13:9; Revelation 21:8)

Hypocrisy (1 Peter 2:1)

Drunkenness (1 Corinthians 6:10)

Stealing (Exodus 20:15; 1 Corinthians 6:10)

Sorcery (Deuteronomy 18:10)

Witchcraft (Deuteronomy 18:10)

Divination (Deuteronomy 18:10)

Interpreting Omens (Deuteronomy 18:10)

Consulting the dead (Deuteronomy 18:11)

Astrology (Deuteronomy 18:9–13; Isaiah 47:13–14)

Depravity (Romans 1:29)

Envy (Romans 1:29; 1 Peter 2:1)

Deceit (Romans 1:29; 1 Peter 2:1)

Murder (Romans 1:29)

Strife (Romans 1:29)

Malice (Romans 1:29; 1 Peter 2:1)

Gossip (Romans 1:29)

Slander (Romans 1:30; 1 Peter 2:1)

Hating God (Romans 1:30)

Insolence (Romans 1:30)

Arrogance (Romans 1:30)

Boastfulness (Romans 1:30)

Inventing evil (Romans 1:30)

Disobeying parents (Romans 1:30)

Disobeying the governing authorities (Romans 13:1–7)

Worrying (Luke 12:22–32)

***Note the preceding text is adapted from The Complete Bible Answer Book: Collector’s Edition: Revised and Expanded (2024). To receive for your partnering gift please click here. ***