Adapted from Complete Bible Answer Book 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). But what is sin from a biblical perspective?

First, sin is not just murder, rape, or robbery. Sin is failing to do the things we should and doing those things that 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 or listen to a news report to see how true this 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 to God and others rather than being an ontological substance.

Adapted from THE FACE

For further study, see Carl F. H. Henry, Basic Christian Doctrines (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1962).

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is
lawlessness. But you know that he appeared
so that he might take away our sins. And in him is
no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.
No one who continues to sin
has either seen him or known him.”

1 John 3:4–6

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

Sins of Omission
Not forgiving (Matthew 6:15)
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 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 trust Christ (John 14:1)
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 believe in Jesus (John 3:16–18; 6:29)
Failing to honor one’s parents (Exodus 20:12)
Failing to give thanks to God (Psalm 105:1; Romans 1:21)
Failing to glorify God (Psalm 34:3; Romans 1:21)
Failing to fear the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:13; Proverbs 3:7)
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)
Failing to share the gospel (Matthew 28:19)

and doing those things that we should not.

Sins of Commission
Wrong teaching (Matthew 23:15)
Insincere love (Romans 12:9)
Causing someone else to sin (Mark 9:42)
Sexual impurity (Romans 1:24)
Homosexuality (Romans 1:26–27)
Idolatry (Romans 1:24)
Greed (Romans 1:29)
Blasphemy (Mark 3:29)
Misusing the Lord’s name (Exodus 20:7)
Selfish ambition (Galatians 5:20)
Fits of rage (Galatians 5:20)
Slave trading (1 Timothy 1:10)
Lying (Exodus 23:1; Revelation 21:8)
Hypocrisy (1 Peter 2:1)
Drunkeness (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)
Boastful (Romans 1:30)
Inventing evil (Romans 1:30)
Disobeying parents (Romans 1:30)