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Bible Q

What are sin and iniquity? Why should we die for them?

What are sin and iniquity?

Sin and iniquity are words God uses to describe the wrong behaviour of people. Although they have a similar meaning, according to Robert Young’s ‘Analytical Concordance to the Bible’ (First Published 1879) their definitions are different.

The words vanity, perversity, wrong, unrighteousness and lawlessness are given as further definitions of iniquity. Words like guilt, error and failure are given as further definitions of sin, along with the expression ‘miss the mark’. From this we can gather that sin and iniquity refer to the human tendency to go against God’s guidance (see Romans 3:23). We sin and commit iniquity when we break the laws God has declared to help us live peaceful lives.

Such wrong behaviour is clearly outlined in the Bible, for example:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 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. Galatians 5:19-21

Here are two further Bible definitions of sin:

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4

…everything that does not come from faith is sin. Romans 14:23

The passage from 1 John confirms that sin is breaking or abandoning God’s laws. The quote from Romans provides a rather interesting, alternative definition of sin. When faith in God isn’t the motivation for our behaviour, sin is the result.

Why should we die for them?

Our sin and iniquity cause pain to ourselves and others. They disturb peace. Living forever like this, with  failure and emptiness, is not desirable to anyone. In a sense, when God instituted death (Genesis 3:19) it was an act of mercy. Who would want to suffer and cause suffering forever? God drove Adam and Eve from the reach of the tree of life, so that they would not live forever in this sorry state (see Genesis 3:22-24).

Thankfully God shows us what qualities suit an eternal life (see God’s nature as revealed in Exodus 34:6-7). God promises eternal life to those who want to stop living a life of sin and iniquity and follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ — who was sent to show us how to live.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Jesus reveals that he has shown us the way to live a sin-free life. God has told us that he is willing to forgive our sins (Psalm 103:12). Every element of Jesus’  life was inspired by the truth and guidance of God. If we commit our lives to them we too can share eternal life.

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