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Sin is disobedience to God. We are all guilty of it. In this chapter, we look at what God thinks of sin, the different types of sins, and the consequences of sin.

Numbers 15:22–36

The punishment was severe and absolute: “The man must die”. Initially this punishment seems excessive—does gathering sticks on the wrong day really deserve death?

1. Was the man deliberately defying God, or did he just forget it was the Sabbath day?
2. How was the sin of this man different from the sins for which an offering could be made to obtain forgiveness?
3. Do you think God is always just and fair?
4. Someone who has despised the word of the Lord is described in v31 as having “his guilt remain on him”. Do you think this means the sin is unforgivable?
5. Why do you think God required animal sacrifice before he was willing to forgive sins? Why doesn’t he require it now?
6. What is the difference between intentional and unintentional sin?
7. Should we be held responsible for things done unintentionally?
8. Was there any sacrifice possible for intentional sin?
9. If a follower of Christ wilfully sins what steps should be taken? Consider Hebrews 10:26–31.

Three sources of sin

In 1 John 2:16, sin is described as coming from three sources:

the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.
1. Do all sins fit these categories?
2. Compare Genesis 3:6. Did Eve’s sin come from all three sources?
3. Compare Luke 4:1–13. Did Jesus’ temptations fit these three categories?

God loves obedience and hates sin
The whole plan of God focuses around the simple word obedience. Consider for a moment the following:

• Adam and Eve’s disobedience introduced sin and death; Romans 5:12
• obedience to the Law of Moses ensured a covering for sin
and resulted in God’s blessing;
Numbers 15:28;
Deuteronomy 4:40
• Christ’s total obedience led to grace and eternal life; Romans 5:19
• our obedience to God is necessary for forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Romans 6:16

It is clear from this list that obedience is vital—God loves obedience and hates sin. Sin is just another word for disobedience
to God: being ‘sinful’ means being full of disobedience.
1 John 3:4 It is obvious why God hates sin: when we choose to disobey him we reject what he stands for—truth, love, patience, justice, faithfulness, mercy and so on. Exodus 34:6–7 By sinning we are rejecting God himself. Paul said,

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile
to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
(Romans 8:6–8)

In fact, God hates sin so much that he has said all sin will lead to death. See Chapter 18. Death. He describes death as the “wages of sin”. Romans 6:23

We must learn to love obedience and hate sin
God wants us to be like him so we must replace sin with obedience; we must learn to hate sin just like God does. One of
the best ways to do this is to read the Bible. For example, the detailed Law of Moses was given to show the Israelites that God
is holy—it taught them how big the gulf was between God and mankind and that God required absolute obedience. Consider these two verses:

No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (Romans 3:20)

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10)

No one has been able to achieve this level of obedience except Christ. Hebrews 4:15 However, if we are faithful, God is willing to consider us righteous, even though sometimes we give in to temptation.See Chapter 38. Grace. The example of Israel’s failure to keep the law perfectly and the example of Christ’s obedience can help us learn to hate sin.

One other way we learn to hate sin is through life experiences: temptations, failures and triumphs. The trials Job experienced taught him humility, that he was a sinner and was totally reliant on God for forgiveness. His soul-searching and contemplation of life helped him realise his great inadequacy before God. Although he was obedient and faithful, he was inadequate. Sometimes it is difficult to really hate sin because we don’t feel bad. Like obedient Job, if we haven’t committed any “big” sins, we can fall into the trap of thinking we are“small” sinners and not so much in need of repentance.

God tested Job by destroying his family, his animals and his health. He had to lose everything before learning to hate sin and to love God more deeply. Learning to hate sin like Job will have a profound effect on our lives—the need for forgiveness becomes urgent, even if we are just “small” sinners!

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. . . My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. (Hebrews 12:4–6)

What is sinful?
Sometimes it is not clear what is sinful. Some sins are obvious while others are not, and sometimes what is sinful to someone is not sinful to another. For example, it is clear that self-indulgence is a sin (Matthew 23:25), yet what one believer thinks is self-indulgent may not be the same for another.
Why is this the case?

Introduction of sin
Genesis 3:1–7; Romans 5:12,19.
God’s view of sin
Romans 8:6–8; 1 John 3:4; 5:17.
Source of sin
Matthew 15:18–19; James 1:14; 4:17; 1 John 2:16.
Result of sin
John 8:34; Romans 6:23.
Avoid sinning
Genesis 4:7; Romans 6:1–2; 1 Corinth 15:34; Hebrews 10:26; 12:4; 1 John 3:6.
Deliberate sin
Hebrews 6:4; 10:26.
Unintentional sin
Leviticus 4:27–28; Numbers 15:22–29; Ezekiel 45:20.
Lists of sins
1 Corinth. 6:9–10; Galatians 5:19–21; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5; Rev 22:15.

As the scriptures do not list all sins specifically, we must apply scriptural principles to decide what is right and wrong when it is not plain. If we reach the wrong conclusion after careful study, discussion and prayer, we have the comfort that God is gracious and can forgive our mistake.

Consider the following categories.

Defiant sin

Anyone who sins defiantly . . . blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people. (Numbers 15:30)

Deliberate sin

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and Are these sins always deliberate? witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. (Galatians 5:19–21)

Unintentional sin

If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed . . . (Leviticus 4:27–28)

Sins of omission

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (James 4:17)

Examples
Discuss these examples below. What principles do you use to decide what is sin?
1. 1 Peter 3:3 says that beauty should not come from outward adornment. Does that mean that women should not wear make-up or lovely clothes?
2. Sam invests his savings in the stockmarket. Sarah thinks he is doing the wrong thing as she believes it’s a form of gambling.
3. Matt is an engineer and joins the engineering association. His sister wants him to leave the association because she thinks believers shouldn’t belong to unions.
4. Jacob, an African, becomes a follower of Christ. He has two wives. Should he leave one wife because the Bible says an elder should have only one wife (1 Timothy 3:2; see also Matthew 19:5–6)?
5. Liz wants to run a Bible course for non-believers. Her husband doesn’t think she should because the Bible says women should not teach (1 Timothy 2:12). Liz argues that Philip had four prophesying daughters (Acts 21:8–9) and that Priscilla taught the gospel (Acts 18:26).

Whether the sin is defiant, deliberate, unintentional or by omission the sinner is guilty of breaking the commandments of God. As God is merciful, we can seek forgiveness and be forgiven., However, God will only forgive us if we reject sin and follow his ways. Paul summarised this beautifully:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. . . as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:5–14)


• Sin is disobedience to God.
• Everyone has sinned except Jesus.
• We must learn to hate sin and love obedience.
• Sin leads to death. But God is willing to forgive our sin if we are faithful.



1. Consider the different types of sin. Which type do you find the hardest to overcome? Why?
2. Consider the following list and discuss the issues and principles involved. Are there circumstances under which these things are sin? Are there circumstances under which they are not sin?

• Eating meat that has been dedicated to idols. 1 Corinthians 8:9–13
• Withholding information from someone.
• Not keeping the Sabbath.
Colossians 2:16
• Minimizing your taxes.
• Having home or life insurance.
• Not being circumcised (for men).
Acts 16:1–3; Gal 2:3
• Not wearing head coverings in worship (for women).
1 Corinthians 11:2–16
• Wearing the latest clothing fashion.
1 Timothy 2:9; 1 Peter 3:3

3. Read Romans 7:14–25. Can you relate to how Paul feels?
4. Do you think some sins are worse than others? Give examples and reasons.
5. (a) Do you think sin can be forgiven before baptism?
(b) When are you responsible for sin?


1. Do you really hate sin? How do you feel when you have sinned? Write down your thoughts and feelings on this.
2. Do you think Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was forgivable?
Consider Luke 12:10 and Matthew 26:24. Was Judas’ sin similar to Peter’s denial of Jesus?
3. It can be helpful to consider why God considers some things sinful. Why do you think the following things are considered sinful by God?

• gossip • adultery
• gluttony • holding grudges
• pride • impatience


• BBB Sections 3.9
• The genius of discipleship by Dennis Gillett (published by the Christadelphian, 1984). Chapter 7 “Pardon”. 5 pages.
• The Christadelphians: what they believe and preach by Harry Tennant (published by The Christadelphian, 1986), Chapter 2: “Man: good or bad?”. 9 pages.
• Thine is the kingdom by Peter Southgate (published by the Dawn Book Supply, 2nd ed., 1997). Chapter 9, 30 pages.


6. What is God like?
12. Blasphemy
16. Temptation
18. Death
25. The Devil and Satan: New Testament
28. Repentance
29. Forgiving one another
35. The sacrifice of Jesus
38. Grace
44. Judgement

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