Which words does the Bible use for “sin”?

Last updated on November 19, 2022

The Westminster Shorter Catechism and other confessions of faith define sin as “lack of conformity with or transgression of the law of God”. Therefore, it is necessary to know its essence based on biblical terms that we will examine below.

Violation, not hitting the target, transgression, abomination

The Bible examines sin as an infraction of the law of God, because by not fulfilling the law of God we are breaking or infringing it (1 John 3:4). The most common words for “sin” in Hebrew and Greek mean “not hit the mark”, “make mistakes”, “err” (an idea is found in Judges 20:16).

We can also define it as “transgression” to an order or law given by an earthly king (Esther 3:2-3) or the law of God (Numbers 14:41). The term that describes God’s attitude towards sin and its effect on Him, is “abomination”, such as idolatry (Deuteronomy 7:25-26), homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13), etc.

Betrayal, perversion, rebellion, not loving God and not glorifying God

Furthermore, sin is sometimes seen as “treason” by breaking the fidelity or loyalty that must be kept to God (Leviticus 26:40), and also as “perversion”, like one who has a “crooked” or perverted heart (Proverbs 12:8). It is also described as “rebellion”, which has the connotation of disobedience and unbelief (Isaiah 1:2; 1:20; Ezekiel 2:3). Furthermore, sin is seen as “not loving God” (Mark 12:30) and as “not glorifying God” since it breaks the very essence of what was created (1 Corinthians 10:31).

From a Christ-centered point of view within the general framework of redemption, the key term for sin is “transgression of the law of God”, for it was our first parents who transgressed the first law given by God (Genesis 2:16-17) and therefore were found guilty before Him. However, in Christ our last Adam, we are declared righteous before God only by faith in Him, for He not only died for us, but lived for us, fulfilling all God’s law.

Thank you, God, for saving me through the life and death of Christ!

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