What is sin?
Let’s go with a direct quote from the Catechism (CCC) paragraph 1849
1849. Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is a failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain good. It wounds the nature of man, and injures human solidarity.
Okay, that’s a lot to go with. In our hearts, God has written on them the guidelines that we should obey in order to be happy. Some people view these guidelines as a rules of “no.”
If you really think about how they were designed, they are like the guard rails on a highway. Or the dotted lines on the road. We stay in our lane, we go the correct direction and we’re happy to go on our way.
Once we started to ignore the rules of the road, or–heaven forbid–purposely drive our car recklessly, we not increase the chances to hurt ourselves, but we will end up hurting our passengers or other drivers on the road.
This is what sin does. It’s like driving knowing your about to do something you shouldn’t (like back up on the highway because you missed your exit) just because you didn’t feel like going around.
When you do things like that, you’re only thinking of yourself and your comfort (or discomfort) but you didn’t take into consideration how your actions were going to affect anyone else.
Laws that defend righteousness?
Many laws that we have today, still have the semblance of sins in them. Let’s take a look at the definition again and work some examples.
Sins against reason:
Reason is: a cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event.
Here is a poor example but one that I’m going to try and work with.
Your driving your car, but it’s dark and you can’t see clearly. You hear a thump, and a scream, but afraid yourself you keep driving the car. You get to your home and find out that you hit someone and they are still on your car!
You check on them, and they are still breathing, but you are scared. So you leave this injured person on your car while you figure out what to do.
You call your friend, to get this person off the car, and place them somewhere else so that you wouldn’t get in trouble. (This is the reason the person on trial had) As you plot and plan all of this, the person who you hit dies.
Sadly, this was a real event. Had the person acknowledged what they did and tried their best to get in injured person to that hospital, I don’t think the full weight of the law would have been thrown at them.
Yes, they would have gone to court, but perhaps the judge would have ruled that it was an accident, they didn’t leave the scene, and it was unfortunate. Instead, the person who hit the person is in jail, and the friend who they called is also sitting in jail because they could have just done the right thing.
Also, that person who died could have been alive if he didn’t wait hours on the hood of that driver’s car.
Laws defending truth
To this day, you know that if you go to court, you are expected to tell the truth. Failure to do so will be a crime. Many people what gone to jail lying in the courts about something–all in the hopes that it will free them from their actions (or lessen it). However, all it did was give them a more time added against them.
Again, going with a crude example, but stealing something from a store. You know it’s bad. You know you shouldn’t do it, you were taught this, but you do I anyway.
How is this a failure to love God and Neighbor?
When ever we do something that is evil, we do it contrary to God’s guidelines. We sin against God because we are doing opposite of what he told us to do. And that did he tell us to do? It’s the laws that are written on our hearts that guide us every day.
Its like when we’re children and was told that we couldn’t go the that party–it’s not good for us. It will only cause us more grief. But being kids, we think we know everything, and did what we felt was best.
When our parents found out, and they always did, we know that we broke the trust they had for us. We took advantage of their love for us (it’s not going to be that bad–I rather take their punishment than be a laughing stock at school) and it showed our parents how we didn’t value our relationship with them more than our desire to please others.
That is exactly what it does with our relationship with God. We show him by our actions that what ever we are desiring is more important that our relationship with Him. That to me a huge game changer because you can say you love God more–but your actions reveal what’s really in you heart. Scary when you think about that.
Now the neighbor part. Sin rarely affects just us, there is a number of ways that our wrong actions can hurt someone–but it in how we treat them (like if we physically hurt them), or if we showed them a bad example.
So everything we do has a consequence and we can offend someone by what we say, do, what our actions reveal as our hearts desire that is against God’s law.
So an easy example is adultery. You hurt your spouse by cheating, offend God by breaking a convent you made, and the person who you did the cheating with since you used them like an object.
How can we understand all of this?
Going back in Genesis to the fall, we can then understand how sin reflects “a love of oneself, even to contempt of God.” (CCC 1850).
“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”
Genesis 3:5-6 NASB
Why did she eat the fruit according to the verse–it was a delight to the eyes and she thought it would be nice to be like God.
As in the scripture example above–sin is the direct disobedience to God, And is in fact the direct opposite to Jesus obedience.
Sin has many ways to rear its ugly head, and we will go into that in the next post. As and this is why I said it will take me more than one post to talk about this. There is a lot in just trying to understand what is sin.
Why is all of this important?
In order to turn away from our faults, to have conversion in our hearts we first must admit that we’re all sinners. We must be able to determine by our conscience (a well formed conscience) our sinfulness, but also our need of redemption.
I hope you found this first part of this series helpful. If you have any questions, or comments or just thoughts you would like to share, leave it in the comments below.
Until next time.