I've heard many people talk about sin, but they leave me wondering what sin is — what it is a person must give up as a Christian.
What is this thing we must all repent of? Some teach that card playing, gambling, going to movies and dancing are sins. Some say sin is going contrary to your conscience. Others say sin is whatever harms you or others. But there is no reason to wonder about it. God plainly tells us what sin is. Here is the Bible definition of sin — the only definition that counts: "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4, Authorized Version). But what law? The apostle James explains: "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law" (James 2:8-11). The law that tells us what sin is has points — and if we break one of those several points, we are guilty of all. Two of the points James mentioned say do not commit adultery and do not kill. Now do you know of a law in the Bible that has points and that says don't commit adultery and don't kill? Of course! The Ten Commandments! The Ten Commandments define what sin is. They tell us what we should and should not do. Therefore when we repent of sin, we repent of breaking God's law — we repent of transgressing or breaking the Ten Commandments! The first four commandments tell us how to love God, and the last six show us how to love our neighbor. That's why James called it a "royal law" that is summed up in the statement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." When we break one of the Ten Commandments, we commit sin. And Jesus Christ said that unless we all repent of our sin, we are doomed to perish (Luke 13:3, 5). Perhaps it is time you asked yourself if you have really repented in God's sight of what God defines as sin.
I want to change and give my life to God, but I don't know what to repent of. When I look at my past, it seems to me I've been a lot better than some people I know. What should I repent of to be a Christian?
You think you haven't fallen short somewhere along the line? Look at your past life. Look at the mistakes you have made — the failures. Don't compare yourself with your neighbors. Compare your life with God's law. Let's briefly take a look at the Ten Commandments. Have you ever had some other god before the true God? Have you been more concerned with what your family or other people thought than what God says in His Word? Be honest, now! Have you given honor to images or pictures, even supposing they were of Jesus Christ? Have you taken God's holy, righteous name in vain? Have you broken God's holy Sabbath day — misused the time God made holy? Have you at any time in your life shown disrespect to your father or mother — argued with them, shown contempt toward them? What about it? Have you ever hated someone else, or felt jealous and envious? If so, then notice what the apostle John has to say: "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (I John 3:15). Have you been unfaithful to your mate? Here's what Jesus said: "I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Plain words — have you been guilty? What about stealing? Have you stolen from your employer? "Put it over" on someone in a business deal? Have you stolen time by not giving your boss a full day's work for a day's pay? Have you stolen from God — robbed God — by failing to pay Him what you owe in tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8-10)? Have you ever told a lie — even a "white lie"? Satan is the father of liars (John 8:44). Have you lied to your parents, to a police officer, to your employer, to a customer or to a friend, perhaps when you felt on the spot and tried to get off the hook? And what about coveting? Have you desired something that did not belong to you — perhaps something you could not afford? Do you covet some other job, a new car, a new home, a Hollywood glamour star for a mate or something else? If you are honest with yourself, then you must admit that you have probably broken all of these laws during your life! And if you have broken even one of them, you have sinned. You must repent of sin in order to be a Christian. Pray to God that He will help you to see yourself as He sees you, and then examine His commandments again, using them as a looking glass to see yourself. And remember I John 1:8-9, concerning repentance: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."