How Can I Know If Something Is a Sin?

We now live in a world where people are failing to discern the difference between right and wrong.
Lifestyles and habits that were once viewed as morally wrong, are today being championed as being morally or politically correct. In our modern world the value systems are now upside-down.
What is evil is now being championed as good while what is righteous is now being termed as evil.

The people who stand for Biblical righteousness and godliness are viewed as bigots, intolerant, divisive, fundamentalists or not living in the modern age. On the other hand – those who stand for immorality and unrighteous values are being viewed as champions, courageous and trendsetters.
So as the world continues to move in a godless direction, the lure and the pleasures of sin continue to dominate our culture and society.

Isaiah 5:20 says: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

So the question is how can we know if something is a sin? What can we use as our standard in order to know the difference between good and evil? How can we discern between truth and deception?


What is Sin?

First we must understand the definition of sin. To sin is to violate or transgress any of God’s laws and commandments.
1 John 3:4 says: Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

The Bible says that all of mankind is guilty of sinning against God. So every human being is guilty of wrong-doing or transgressing God’s laws and commandments.

Romans 3:23 says: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 3:10-12 says: As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

For example, we are all guilty of breaking one or more of God’s 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21). God’s standard of righteousness and sinless perfection can be found in the 10 commandments. However, we are all guilty of failing to live according to the perfect standard of God’s laws. It is through God’s word and commandments that we can know if we are sinning and also distinguish between good and evil.
For example, if you have told a lie; if you have been jealous or coveted things belonging to someone else; if you have ever stolen something (no matter how small); if you have committed any kind of sexual immorality; if you have used God’s name in vain; if you have worshipped or desired something or someone above God, then you are guilty of sin or transgressing God’s 10 commandments.


List of Sins Mentioned in the Bible & The Authority of the Scriptures

There are certain scriptures in the Bible where a list of sins are mentioned. These list of sins are usually followed with a warning of the consequences of practicing such sins.

Galatians 5:19-21 says: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Revelation 21:8 says: But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says: Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

So in addition to the 10 commandments, the above scriptures are also examples of how we can know if something we are doing is a sin or not.
However we will notice that the world has embraced the above sins as being “good”, such as sexual immorality, homosexuality, idolatry, rivalries, sorcery, dishonesty and many more.

From the Bible we learn that living according to our sinful nature / flesh can have eternal consequences.
Isaiah 59:2 says that our sins can separate us from God. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death.
Sin is also the reason why evil exists and why we have so many problems in the world. It all started from the time Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-24).

So the Bible clearly tells us the difference between right and wrong and how we can discern between the two. The Bible is the only authority through which we can truly discern between sin and righteousness.

Psalms 119:11 says: I have stored up Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.

2 Timothy 3:16 says: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness

Furthermore, when Jesus Christ was tempted, He consistently used the scriptures against the devil in order to overcome the temptation to sin against God (Matthew 4:1-11).
Therefore Christ’s response to temptation by using the Scriptures, gives us a clear example of why the Bible is our ultimate authority and standard for knowing if something is a sin.
It is therefore important for us to know the Bible and to perceive all of life’s issues through the lenses of God’s word.


Jesus Christ Came to Save Sinners

The good news is that Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15 says: The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Sin is like a sickness or disease which has affected the whole of humanity and Jesus Christ is the one and only cure.
Luke 5:31-32 says: And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

So though we are sinners who have sinned against a holy and righteous God – we have a loving, gracious and forgiving God who is able to forgive us of all our sins.
God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to pay for our sins on the cross and He offers us eternal life as a free gift. Through Jesus Christ we are saved from sin and its consequences. Through Christ salvation is received by grace through faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16).
Christ paid the debt for sin that we cannot pay. Christ took our punishment on the cross through the blood He shed for our sins. Christ came and was crucified so that through Him, we may be freed from the power of sin over our lives.

Romans 5:8-9 says: But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.

1 John 2:2 says: He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Ephesians 1:7 says: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace,

So our response to what Christ did for us on the cross should be to repent, believe in Him and receive Him through faith as our Lord and Saviour. Our response should be to seek a genuine relationship with God.
John 1:12 says: But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God,

Therefore by having a genuine relationship with God and by understanding what He expects of us through His word, we can then be able to distinguish whether something is a sin or not.



1. ACKNOWLEDGE: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This means that we have all broken God’s laws and God’s 10 Commandments like those mentioned in Exodus 20:1-17. For example, if you have told a lie; if you have stolen something; if you have lusted after somebody or if you have coveted. This means you are guilty of breaking at least one or more of God’s 10 Commandments. Breaking God’s commandments makes us sinners. The fact that we are sinners who have broken God’s law means that we are accountable to God who is the Lawgiver. Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
You must acknowledge that you are a sinner who has broken God’s commandments and that you therefore need Jesus in your life.

2. REPENT: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3), “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19)
Repenting means: to change your mind; a sincere turning away, in heart, mind and action;
Therefore God wants you to change your mind about sinful values and of sinful living. God wants you to decide to follow Him and to make Jesus the Lord of your life.

3. CONFESSION: “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)
God is a forgiving God. God will forgive any sin that you have done because Jesus died for ALL your sins and to set you free from the bondage of all types of sin in your life.

4. BELIEVE: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
You must believe that ONLY Jesus can save you and restore your relationship with God. You must believe that Jesus is the ONLY way by which you can have everlasting life and escape from eternal separation from God. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and resurrected from the grave.
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive him, But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12)
By faith, You must receive Jesus as Your Lord & Savior and therefore; you become a child of God; you become born again; you become a Christian; you restore your broken relationship with God.


Why Not Make Your Eternal Decision NOW?

We become born again Christians by GRACE through FAITH or TOTAL TRUST in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior (Galatians 3:26) & (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is a FREE gift received through FAITH in Christ.

PLEASE NOTE: You can choose to pray in your own words. This prayer is a sample prayer and it is only an EXPRESSION of your faith, belief & trust in Jesus. Salvation is by GRACE through FAITH or BELIEVING in Christ Jesus as your Lord & Saviour.

“Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your love. I thank You that You died on the cross for me and resurrected so that I may have life through You.
I confess Lord that I have sinned against You and today I ask You to forgive me of all of my sins, past present and future.
Today I repent and have decided to follow you. Thank you for forgiving all my sins.
From this moment, come into my life Lord Jesus & take full control of my life. I want to follow You Jesus and I want to follow Your ways. Save me and from today, make me the person You want me to be.
I receive You Lord Jesus right now by faith. I trust You as my Lord and Savior – Amen”

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