- To understand the nature of sin, its costs, and how God feels about it
- In this study, we’ll look at several verses that help us understand the biblical picture of sin. We’ll see what sin is and what it produces in us. We’ll also talk about the source of sin and how God feels about it.
Q. What do you think it means to sin?
THE DEFINITION OF SIN
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith ina] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
- Sin is falling short, a departure from the will of God. When we sin, we act in ways that oppose God and his will. We fall short in our efforts to be like God, and instead we act according to the impulses of our flesh.
- Each and every one of us is guilty of sin. We’re all in this together, and every one of us desperately needs the redemption that comes through Christ.
THE WAGES OF SIN
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life ina] Christ Jesus our Lord.
Q. What do you think is meant by the “wages of sin?”
- Sin enslaves those who are living in it and it results in spiritual death. Without Christ, those in sin miss the gift of eternal life!
- Sin is very costly and reaps no benefits. It is terribly damaging to every area of our lives (families, communities, relationships).
THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF SIN
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
Q. What effects of sin do we see in this passage?
- Over time, sin hardens our hearts and desensitizes us to God.
- Sin darkens our understanding and hardens our hearts, resulting in ignorance. After a while, sin makes it difficult to even see and understand God! As a result, our sin separates us from the life of God.
THE SOURCE OF SIN
20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
Q. What do you think is the ultimate source of our sinfulness?
- Sin comes from within—from our hearts and not from our circumstances. We can’t blame our sin on our environment, our upbringing or our society.
- Jesus is very specific here about some of the sins that come from within and that make us “unclean.” God wants us to be able to clearly identify the sin in our lives so that we can repent and deal with our hearts.
TYPES OF SIN
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
- Notice the different types of sin in this list: sexual sins, relational sins and sins of indulgence. For definitions of these sins, see the appendix.
- Those who live like this will not inherit God’s eternal kingdom. Instead, they forfeit their inheritance!
- When we don’t do the good we know we should do—that is also considered sin.
Note: Now is a great time for you who are leading the study to share openly about the sin you had to face in becoming a disciple. Invite the person you are studying with to share as well.
GOD’S HEART IN REGARD TO OUR SIN
5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
- Sin isn’t just breaking the rules. It actually pains God (grieves him) when we sin and hurts our relationship with him.
Q. Is this how you’ve understood God’s feelings about your sin?
RESCUE FROM SIN
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful naturea] a slave to the law of sin.
- The only sufficient answer to the terrible costs and damage of sin is Jesus Christ!
- Like Paul, seeing our own sinfulness can be overwhelming. In our next study, we’ll look at God’s answer to sin and how he rescues us.
Note: Encourage the person you are studying with to read the following verses that further describe sinful behavior and write out a personal sin list:
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
- Colossians 3:5-10
- Ephesians 5:3-7
- 2 Timothy 3:1-5
John 3:19-21 Facing our sin honestly can be painful
Proverbs 28:13 He who confesses and renounces his sin finds mercy
James 5:16 We are called to confess our sins to one another
Romans 1:18-32 The progression of sin
1 John 3:4 Sin is breaking God’s law