The definition of sin


Many people all over the world play around with the word sin. It is not the first time that I have heard people deny the existence of sin. Other people might say, ‘come on forget about sin, enjoy life and do whatever you want’. Are these people correct about the non-existence of sin? I wonder why these people have such ideas that sin does not exist.

For me sin does exist, and so does God. It is not only because of my Christian faith that I have been brought up in, that I believe in sin, but it is mostly through my own experience of life… of my personal experience of God. Life has taught me that when I am not at peace with myself, with my neighbour and with God, it is because some kind of sin has taken over my being and disturbs my spiritual realm, my relationship with the loving Father. In other words, whenever I am not in peace, is because some kind of sin takes control of my life.

I know many other people who share similar experiences of mine. These are people who had encouraged other persons to fall in different addictions, people who had bullied their employees, and such other examples. However, these people, at a particular point in their life, through the grace of God, realised that they were living in sin, understood that sin does in fact exist, and decided through great conviction to follow Jesus and say no to the sinful life they had been living in.

 So, what is the definition of sin? The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1849 to 1851, clearly explains what sin is, as indicated in the following text:

Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”

Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.” Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,” knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.” In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.

It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate’s cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas’ betrayal – so bitter to Jesus, Peter’s denial and the disciples’ flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly.

In view of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, and through my experience of life, sin is anything that makes an offense to God, or any kind of action that offends a human being. The offense to a human being can be made during the time a human being is still in the mother’s womb, during the lifetime of a human being, and also after a human being dies.

Sin is anything that separates man from the love of God and of his neighbour.

(this reflection is an extract from my book ‘Come To Me’)

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