Three Sinful Views of Sin

by Dr. Michael L. Williams · Print Print · Email Email

Someone does not have to be a sociologist to see that this world is becoming more and more dangerous. Reports of crimes, violence, and bad behavior flood the airwaves and Internet twenty-four hours a day. However, what used to be universally accepted as sinful behavior has now become the topic of heated discussions between those who see the behaviors as wrong and those who do not. This is a result of three sinful views of sin.

What is sin?

The Bible defines sin as the transgression, or breaking, of God’s law: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). The Bible expounds upon this definition as follows (1):

  1. Sin is described as being crooked instead of straight (Deuteronomy 32:5; Proverbs 2:10-15; Isaiah 42:16; Philippians 2:14-15)
  2. Sin is described as rebellion against God (Joshua 22:22-23; 1 Samuel 15:23; Job 34:37; Proverbs 17:11; Psalms 107:11; Isaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 28:16)
  3. Sin is described as disobedience (Deuteronomy 11:27-28; Proverbs 30:17; Romans 5:19; Ephesians 2:1-3; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:5-6; Hebrews 2:2)
  4. Sin is described as unbelief (Mark 16:9-14; Romans 11:16-21; 1 Timothy 1:12-14; Hebrews 3:7-19; John 5:10)

It is clear from these verses that sin has consequences. According to Romans 6:23 the primary consequence is eternal death in torment (Matthew 8:29; Luke 16:23-28; Revelation 14:9-11; Revelation 20:10-15). Sin can also prevent someone’s prayers from being heard (Psalms 66:18-19; Jeremiah 7:1-16; Isaiah 1:10-15; 1 Peter 3:7). With a clear understanding of sin, we see that having a wrong view about sin is the foundation of why the world is the way it is.

Three Sinful Views of Sin

The first sinful view: Sin is not accepted as sinful

Most of the debate when it comes to issues like abortion, social justice, disrespect to government leaders and authorities, marriage, lifestyles, etcetera is because people hold personal views about sin. Some people believe that they should be absolutely free to live how they want without anyone telling them what to do. They and others claim that their motto is to “do no harm.” However, they also believe they should decide for themselves what constitutes harm based on their own opinion.

The fallacy of this is that unless they are God, how can they possibly know how their actions and behaviors affect others? For example, in Biblical counseling, it is becoming common that people cannot understand how a heavenly Father can love them. This concept is alien to them because in many cases their parents never chose to establish a marital relationship, conceived them and the father never demonstrated love to them. It is even worse if their father was abusive.

The harm that is done is that not only is their relationship with God hindered, but their rejection of a monogamous marriage relationship greatly places their children at high risk for poverty and numerous other social difficulties. The only way this can be corrected is if there is a Biblical view of sin.

The second sinful view: Sin varies in severity

Like the first sinful view, most people form an opinion when it comes to determining the severity of sin as well. Most will agree that murder is wrong, but more and more we are seeing people argue that not only murder, but random acts of terrorism against innocent people are justified because of a religious conviction or perceived injustice. They are either ignorant of or do not care that God teaches that vengeance belongs to Him alone (Romans 12:14-21; 1 Peter 2-3).

Likewise, most people believe that it is okay to tell lies (AKA white lies) if there is a good reason. This is based on the idea that sin is relative to the situation. This is where the terms situational ethics and moral relativism comes from. It is based on the belief that right and wrong are not absolute, they are variable based on the situation or the person doing it. This is in direct contradiction to what God teaches (James 2:8-11).

This type of thinking leads to not only unequal applications to the consequences of sin in the person’s mind, but also to societies passing inconsistent or illogical laws. For example, if a woman has a right to kill her unborn child as her freedom of choice, then how can someone be charged with manslaughter if their actions result in the same woman miscarrying her child? This question shows why not relying on a Biblical view of sin can not only result in a hindered relationship with God, but also harm to other people as an unintended consequence. The only way this can be corrected is if there is a Biblical view of sin.

The third sinful view: Sin is a disorder

This third sinful view of sin is probably the fastest growing belief that has the biggest consequences. Our culture has redefined most sin as nothing more than mental illness disorders. Mass murderers are now not being held accountable for their killing sprees because they were diagnosed as mentally ill or were on mood altering drugs.

Kids who rebel against authority are no longer considered to be rebellious, they are diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) or have severe ADD/ADHD and taught they are a victim of their diagnosis. Many children with Asperger’s syndrome make their family’s lives a living nightmare because their parents are told that they cannot help it that these children behave in a severely rebellious way that often results in violence. This is nothing more than blame shifting.

This is not to say that there are not people who have nervous system disorders that manifest themselves in mood and behavior changes. However, it does not mean that it is helpful to reinforce to them that if they choose to behave in outrageous ways it is not their fault. Understanding the maturity, social skills, activities of daily living abilities, and educational achievement capabilities must be considered along with holding them accountable for actions that are a result of sinful choices.

Experience has proven that when these individuals are challenged to achieve the same relationship with Christ and life choices that others are able to make by a trusted person who is saved, they can make astounding progress. Out-of-control children who have been told they cannot do well in school along with those who are told they can never have normal social relationships with others can achieve great success. However, a strong Biblical mentor must serve as a life coach and reinforce what God teaches. The only way this can be corrected is if there is a Biblical view of sin.


Sin is the transgression or breaking of God’s law. The consequence of sin is eternal death and torment. Sin can be viewed sinfully in at least three ways: When it is not accepted as sinful, when it varies in severity based on the situation or who is doing it, and when it is relabeled as a disorder. The only correct way to view sin is based upon what the Bible teaches — the Biblical view. Relying upon what the world teaches can result in a sinful, rather than a Biblical view of the sin.

Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) Williams, Michael, (2013). Bible Doctrines, Anthropology: The Doctrine of Man, Part Two. Albuquerque, NM: Selah Mountain Bible Institute.

How to turn your sermon into clips

Share the truth

Previous post:

Next post: