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Lesson: How is Sin Defined in the New Testament?

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There is basically only one Greek word in the New Testament for "Sin": "hamartano" - In the Greek it means: to "miss the mark." An example is found in Matthew 18:21 (KJV): "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin (hamartano:G264) against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?"

Strong's Concordance #G264. hamartano, ham-ar-tan'-o; perh. from G1 (as a neg. particle) and the base of G3313; prop. to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize), i.e. (fig.) to err, esp. (mor.) to sin.--for your faults, offend, sin, trespass.

Another example is found in 1 Corinthians 6:18 (KJV): "Flee fornication. Every sin (hamartema:G265) that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth (hamartano:G264)  against his own body."

Strong's Concordance #G265. hamartema, ham-ar'-tay-mah; from G264; a sin (prop. concr.):--sin.

Notice that this Greek word comes from the same root word of "hamartano" #G264.

It is very interesting to realize that the Greek word "Hamartano" means the exact same thing as the Hebrew word "Chattah" which is used many times in the Old Testament and translated as the English word "sin." Both words mean: "Miss the Mark!"

God inspired a secular word to convey to us what is not acceptable to Him.

How does the New Testament define "SIN"?

1.) There are four definitions in the New Testament that defines "SIN." Letís notice 1 John 3:4 in the King James Version: "Whosoever committeth sin (hamartia:G266) transgresseth (anomia:G458) also the law: for sin (hamartia:G266) is the transgression (anomia:G458) of the law."

Strong's Concordance #G458. anomia, an-om-ee'-ah; from G459 (without law, lawless); illegality, i.e. violation of law or (gen.) wickedness:--iniquity, X transgress (-ion of) the law, unrighteousness.

The Greek word "anomia" in King James Version means "without law" or "lawlessness".

Other translations translates this verse correctly. One example is the New King James Version: "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness."

When you say "Sin" is lawlessness, you are talking about an attitude towards "law", an attitude of rejecting "law", even if you are not breaking the "law." In essence, what the Apostle John was saying in 1 John 3:4 was that sin is missing the mark which is an attitude of lawlessness. If we have an attitude or frame of mind of "contempt" for law then we are missing the mark.

2.) The second New Testament definition of "sin" comes from the Apostle James: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17 KJV).

Sin is not doing the good that we know we should do. The more we know, the more accountable we are to God and the more God expects of us. Are there things that we should be doing and we are not doing, such as: controlling our tempers, our lusts, our eating to much, our bringing every thought under control and not saying things that we shouldn't?

If we are not doing the right things then we are "missing the mark" and we are falling short.

3.) The third New Testament definition of "sin" is found in Romans 14 where the Apostle Paul is talking about meats offered to idols and some people were offended because of this. Then the Apostle Paul defined Sin in: Romans 14:23 (KJV): "And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."

Whatever is not of faith, whatever action or conduct that is not done in faith is Sin or "missing the mark."

It is Sin if we are compromising our conscience and not responding to our conscience. A lack of faith is sin - it always misses the mark.

What is the definition of faith? Hebrews 11:1. Do we need faith to please God? Hebrews 11:6

4.) The fourth New Testament definition of "sin" is found in 1 John 5:16-17 (KJV) "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. {17} All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death."

This new definition of sin is: All unrighteousness is sin.

What is righteousness? Psalms 119:172.

Righteousness is keeping Godís Ten Commandments and unrighteousness is breaking the commandments.

Where does sin lead? Romans 6:16, 23. Does sin lead to death?

In Conclusion: God is Interested in How We Think! God is interested in our attitudes and our frame of mind which produce our actions which shows God how our minds work. If our thinking is right, then our conduct should be right. Sin is "missing the mark" and God warns us that if we continue to sin and "miss the mark" then death will be the result. Letís strive to "hit the mark" and achieve the goals that God has set for us. Letís think and act like God.

NOTE: For more information on Sin - Check out our article: What is Sin?


3.)  (Heb 11:1 NKJV) "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

(Heb 11:6 NKJV) "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

4.) (Psa 119:172 NKJV) "My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness."

(Rom 6:16 NKJV) "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?"

(Rom 6:23 NKJV) "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."