Communicating the Gospel: Sin is not just “a mistake”

Sometimes the Christian Gospel can be presented like this: “Everybody makes mistakes in their lives, we all need forgiveness…”.

This, I submit to you, while often coming out of the best of motives, is not an accurate presentation of the doctrine of sin from the Bible.

Oxford online dictionaries gives a definition of a mistake as “an act or judgement that is misguided or wrong” and you will agree that by this definition sin is certainly a mistake. But it is not just a mistake. If we think it is merely a mistake, we begin to trivalize sin. 

The Scriptures present “sin” in a far blacker light than that. People must understand that they are not going to hell because they make “some mistakes” but because their actions are rebellious acts of war against a God who is infinitely pure and good. No less.

John writes “Sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4 ESV, RV). W.E. Vine helpfully writes “This definition of sin sets forth its essential character as the rejection of the law, or will, of God and the substitution of the will of self.”


In other words, “sin is rebellion”. Sin is an act of our rebellious will. It begins in a rebel heart and mind which is hostile to God (Romans 8:7), which instructs our body to substitute ourselves, our senses or our ideas for God. We are by nature (unless redeemed) slaves to this principle of sin. It affects our intellect, emotions and will and produces rotten fruit (sinful actions) in our lives.

So we are, by nature: treacherous, self-willed sinners, in slavery to sin  leading to rebellious, God-dishonouring actions and a character of life which brands us as enemies of a God (Romans 5:10) who alone has ultimate authority in the universe. AT WAR WITH GOD!

Putting it bluntly. Every sin is a refusal of God (Genesis 3:6). Every sin is a manifestation of our will as unbroken before God. Every sin is trying to tear God from his throne (Ps 51:4). Every sin is an affront to God (Ps 50:21). Every sin (unless forgiven) is treasuring up wrath against a day of wrath (Romans 2:5). Every sin (unless forgiven) will be judged completely and eternally by a sin-hating, holy and just God, who keeps a complete record of each and every one of them (Romans 2:6; Rev 20:12; Rev 21:8).

Sin is not merely a mistake we make, it is “rebellion-in-action”. A shaking of our fist at God.

This is why we need the Lord Jesus Christ, and this is why we, as Christians, preach Him:

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”  1 John 3:4-5 ESV

We didn’t need a handyman to “fix our mistakes” rather we needed a Saviour to take away our sins; to save us from ourselves, yes, to redeem and reconcile us to God, and “in Him there is no sin”.

May the Lord help us to communicate to others the true awfulness of sin. So that they may seek the Saviour.


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