What is Sin? It’s Origin & Meaning in the Bible

You have most likely heard or seen the word “sin” yet there are probably elements of this concept that would still surprise you. For instance, sin was a term used in archery meaning “to miss the mark.” The idea of sin traverses culture and theology spanning back thousands of years in origin. Discover five things about sin you may not have known before!

1. The Definition of Sin is Complex

Definition of Sin in Christianity

The Christian definition of sin is purposely disobeying the rules of God (1 John 3:4). The Bible says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:18-22). God commands us to follow moral law and has given every human a conscience for intuitively knowing right from wrong.  

Semantic History of Sin

Furthermore, let’s look at sin in the historical context to understand its evolution and translation over time. The word originates from the Old English term “syn” translated from Biblical Greek and Jewish indicating the action of missing the mark. In the original sense of New Testament Greek, “sin” is a failure in missing the mark, primarily in spear throwing. Hebrewhata“sin” originates in archery and literally refers to missing the “gold” at the center of a target, but hitting the target.

Relating to the Christian definition, the gold center of the target could be seen as God’s commandment for righteousness. To sin is to miss our mark of living in a virtuous manner, not only failing to meet God’s commandment but acting against our own interests by engaging the world in an immoral manner. To sin is to fall short of our potential, missing the mark of our highest self and best quality of life.

2. The Origin of Sin is Complicated

Heavenly Origin of Sin

The sin that corrupted Lucifer was self-generated pride. This represents the actual beginning of sin in the universe—preceding the fall of the human Adam by an indeterminate time. Sin originated in the free will of Lucifer in which—with the full understanding of the issues involved—he chose to rebel against the Creator. This powerful angel was properly judged by God: “I threw you to the earth” (Ezekiel 28:18).

This doesn’t mean that Satan had no further access to heaven, for other Scripture verses clearly indicate that Satan maintained this access even after his fall (Job 1:6-12Zechariah 3:1,2). However, Ezekiel 28:18 indicates that Satan was absolutely and completely cast out of God’s heavenly government and his place of authority (Luke 10:18).

Earthly Origin of Sin

Original sin is a Christian view of the nature of sin in which mankind lives since the fall of man. Beginning with Adam and Eve‘s disobedience in Eden, the sin of indulgence was eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This status has been defined in many ways, varying from something as trivial as a small insufficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, to something as severe as total wickedness or habitual guilt of all humans through collective sin.

3. Hundreds of Sins are Found in the Bible

If we search for things that are condemned by God, there are literally hundreds of sins to be found in the Bible. Thankfully, some of the most important were condensed into the Ten Commandments, given to Moses by God (Exodus 20). These laws of “thou shalt not” are meant for our protection and guidance. God, our loving Father, wants to give us wisdom and keep us from choices that He knows will harm us. 

4. Is There An Unforgivable Sin?

According to Jesus, there is one sin a person can do for which there is no forgiveness or pardon either in this age or in the age to come: blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. But what does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit?”

Jesus addressed the topic in Mark 3:20-30, a passage that ends with these words:  “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” (Mark 3:28-29).

5. How to Find Redemption from Sin

“The central theme of redemption in Scripture is that God has taken the initiative to act compassionately on behalf of those who are powerless to help themselves. The New Testament makes clear that divine redemption includes God’s identification with humanity in its plight, and the securing of the liberation of humankind through the obedience, suffering, death, and resurrection of the incarnate Son.” (Excerpted from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

Jesus came to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  Through the redemption provided by His death and resurrection, Jesus gave each of us a way to be cleansed of our sins, offering us the chance to spend eternity with Him in heaven.  All we have to do is take Him up on the offer.   

The Best Bible Verses about Sin

The Seven Deadly Sins listed in the Bible are Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth. The Bible covers topics relating to sin, repentance, forgiveness, salvation, and others that help provide biblical guidance for Christians to follow to resist the temptation of sin.

Romans 3:2323 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Genesis 4:4-74 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

 Galatians 5:19-2119 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. 

Psalm 119:25-2925 I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word. 26 I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. 27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds. 28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. 29 Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law. 

Isaiah 40:28-3128 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. 

Colossians 3:5-65 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.