Why Is Sin Wrong?

Text: 1 John 3:4

John said he wrote so that we “may not sin” (1 John 2:1). But what is sin? We have to know what sin is so we can avoid it. This lesson will address the basic Bible definition of sin and how sin is an objective and fixed standard. It will also deal with various types of sins that people believe they can ignore because they misunderstand the nature of sin.

Sin is Lawlessness

  • John equates sin with lawlessness (1 John 3:4) – acting contrary to or without authority from the law
  • What law is violated when we sin? … The law of God – shows us righteousness (Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:16) & defines sin (Romans 7:7)
  • Why is His law the standard? … He is the highest authority (Ephesians 1:20-21)
  • His law is a fixed standard – we cannot add to it (Matthew 15:1-9), take from it (Acts 20:20, 27), or change it (Galatians 1:8-9)
  • Because His law is a fixed standard, and sin is lawlessness, then sin will always be wrong
  • There is no situation that exists in which sin is right, tolerable, or justifiable – yet many people ignore God’s fixed standard & attempt to make excuses for sin

Hidden Sins – Sins of which No One Else is Aware

  • We may keep some sins hidden from men – we cannot hide them from God (Proverbs 15:3; Hebrews 4:13)
  • We will be judged for these hidden sins (Hebrews 4:12; Romans 2:16)
  • We must eliminate secret sins – repentance which leads to forgiveness (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Well-Intentioned Sins – Sins Done for a Good Cause

  • This is what we sometimes think of as “situation ethics”
  • We cannot “do evil that good may come” (Romans 3:8)
  • Good works are defined in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17) – if we want to do good to others or support a good cause, we need to find the right way to do it

Conscientious Sins – Sins Committed in Good Conscience

  • Before Paul obeyed the gospel, he severely persecuted the church (Acts 9:1-2; 1 Timothy 1:13) – all of this was done in good conscience (Acts 23:1)
  • Feeling no guilt does not mean that our actions are right (Jeremiah 6:15; 1 Timothy 4:2)
  • We must train our consciences by the word of God (Hebrews 5:14) – those who obey will be saved (Hebrews 5:9), not those who feel like they’re obeying

Popular Sins – Sins That Are Practiced by the Majority

  • The Bible warns us not to follow the crowd into sin (Exodus 23:2; Proverbs 1:10)
  • Remember, the majority will be lost (Matthew 7:13-14) – we must be different than the world (Romans 12:2)
  • Don’t run with the crowd to do evil (1 Peter 4:3-4) – do what is right, even if it means suffering (1 Peter 4:1-2, 16) or standing alone (2 Timothy 4:16-17)

Excusable Sins – Sins That One Believes Are Not His Fault

  • People often blame others for their sin – this has been happening since the beginning (Genesis 3:12-13)
  • We may suffer consequences for others’ sins, but we are responsible for our own sins (Ezekiel 18:1-4)
  • We will answer for what we have done, not for what others have done (2 Corinthians 5:10)


  • Sin is wrong because it is a violation of God’s law – therefore, it will always be wrong
  • Instead of trying to excuse sin, we must work on eliminating sin from our lives

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