Lead me in your truth and teach me for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25 verse 5



Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will He instruct in the way that he should choose.

Psalm 25 verse 12



I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Psalm 32 verse 8



Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Psalm 51 verse 6



Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 86 verse 11



Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law.

Psalm 94 verse 12



Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good spirit lead me on level ground.

Psalm 143 verse 10



All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace.            

Isaiah chapter 54 verse 13



Jesus said: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew chapter 11 verse 29



Jesus said: It is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught by God". Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.

John chapter 6 verse 45




An online digest of the truth about God as we find it in the Bible



Sin 1. What is Sin?

Let us begin with a definition of the English word "sin". According to Chambers English Dictionary it means:

  • Moral offence or shortcoming
  • An offence generally
  • A shame, a pity
"Sinful" means:
  • Wicked
  • Morally wrong

The word may have its root in the Latin "sons", meaning "guilty".

For the benefit of those readers who are not familiar with the Bible, let me note in passing that the Bible has two parts known respectively as "the Old Testament" and "the New Testament". The Old Testament, which was written before the time of Jesus, was written mostly in Hebrew, the language of the Israelis, whereas the New Testament, which was written by those who followed Jesus or were His contemporaries, was written in Greek, which, along with Latin, was at that time the universal language of the Mediterranean world.

Also for the benefit of those readers who do not know what a "concordance" is, it is an index of all the words used in the Bible. The concordance compiled by James Strong also has a system whereby each word is given a number which may then be used to look up the dictionary at the back of the concordance, where all of the Hebrew and Greek words are listed with their meanings.

In the Hebrew, Strong identifies a set of six words, to which he allocates the numbers 2398 to 2403 inclusive, which are translated in the English Bible by the words "sin", "sinful", "sinner", and so forth. The root word, number 2398, literally means "to miss", and is used in the sense of "to fall short" i.e. to fail to live up to the requirements of the law of God, whether by a strong will determining to do wrong, or by a weak will not determining to do right.

Similarly, in the Greek there is a set four of words, with the numbers 264, 265, 266, and 268, with essentially the same meaning.

In light of this, I would suggest the following as a reasonable working definition of the word "sin" as it is used in the Bible:

To fail, whether intentionally or by default, to live up to a standard of behaviour set by God.

The first mention of the word "sin" in the Bible is in Genesis chapter 4 verse 7. The background to this is that Cain and Abel, the first two sons of Adam and Eve, have brought their respective offerings to God. Abel's offering is pleasing to God, but Cain's is not acceptable. This causes Cain to become sullen and angry. To this God makes the remark:

"If you do well, will you not be accepted? If you do not do well, sin is crouching at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." Genesis 4:7

Sin is characterised here as a predator - as a cat waiting to catch a bird and ensure that it never flies again.

When I was a child, we had a cat called Sockie (because of the white sock-shaped areas of hair on her legs). She was a brilliant hunter. I remember watching her one day with a mouse that she had caught. She was sitting nonchalantly performing her toilet while the terrified mouse sat trembling at her feet. Every now and again the mouse would think that Sockie was not paying attention, and it would gingerly try to slink away; but before it had moved a centimetre, Sockie's paw had landed on its back and restrained its hopeless bid for freedom.

That mouse had no mission of escaping from Sockie's ruthless captivity. Cain, however, was given by God the hope, if he should really want it, that he might master sin.

As it turned out, he chose not to try to master sin, but yielded to its enticements - and ended up murdering his brother Abel. When challenged by God he uttered that now famous retort: "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9).

The scene is set for an ongoing conflict between man and sin - a war that has raged incessantly from that day to this.

The scene is set for an ongoing conflict between man and sin - a war that has raged incessantly from that day to this. More often than not, it is sin that overcomes. Its most effective weapon, its secret weapon, being secrecy itself - denying its own existence so that men blithely and blindly limp along oblivious to their helpless and hopeless condition as prisoners and slaves of their unknown and invisible master.

However, Cain's was not the first recorded sin. We need to go back a chapter, to Genesis chapter 3 verses 1 to 6, to find the sin that started it all off.

Go back to "Sin - Introduction" Go on to "Sin 2. When did it start?"