I've heard many people talk about sin, but they leave me wondering just what sin is what it is a person must give up to become a Christian.
What is this thing we must all repent of? Some teach that card-playing, gambling, going to movies, dancing — is sin. Some say "sin" is going contrary to your "conscience." Others say "SIN" is whatever harms you or hurts someone else. And many leave it up to the individual himself to DEFINE SIN! But there is no reason to wonder about it. God plainly tells us what sin IS. Notice it! Here is the BIBLE DEFINITION of sin — the ONLY definition that counts! Open your Bible to I John 3:4. "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for SIN IS..." — what is it? Read it carefully — "... SIN IS THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW"! But what law? Let the apostle James explain it. "If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit SIN, and are convinced of the LAW as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the WHOLE LAW, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of ALL. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the LAW. SO speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be JUDGED by the law of liberty" (James 2:8-12). Now notice carefully what YOU have just read. The LAW which tells us what SIN is, is a law which 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 which has "points" — and which says DON'T commit adultery, and don't kill? Of course you do! The Ten Commandments! The Ten Commandments DEFINE what sin is. They tell us what we should and should NOT do! Therefore — notice it — 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" which is summed up in the statement, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Whenever we BREAK one of the Ten Commandments, we commit SIN. And Jesus Christ said, unless we all REPENT of our sin, we are doomed to PERISH! Isn't it time we stop trying to make up our OWN definitions of sin, and what we need to repent of, and simply let God teach us out of His Word? GOD is the One who tells us what sin is — what we need to REPENT of doing! If we don't repent of what HE says is sin, then we haven't even begun real repentance! Perhaps it is time you asked yourself if YOU have REALLY repented in God's sight — if you have repented of what God calls and 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 say you haven't fallen short somewhere along the line? Look at your past life. Look at the mistakes you have made. Don't compare yourself with your neighbors. Compare your life with God's Commandments. Let's just briefly — very 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? Have you? Be honest, now! Have you ever taken God's holy, righteous NAME in vain? Have you ever bowed down to images or pictures, even supposing they were of Christ? (Write for our article on this subject if you haven't read it.) Have you ever broken God's holy Sabbath day? — misused the time He made holy? Have you ever — at any time in your life — shown disrespect to your father or mother? Have you ever argued with them, quarreled with them, felt bitter toward them, shown contempt toward the "old fogies"? What about it? Have you ever killed? Perhaps you haven't — in the letter of the law — but have you ever HATED someone else, or felt jealous and envious? If so — then notice what the apostle John has to say: "Whosoever hateth his brother is a MURDERER: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (I John 3:15). What about adultery? Have you ever been unfaithful to your mate? Here's what Jesus Christ said about this commandment: "But I say unto you, That whosoever LOOKETH on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Mat. 5:28). Plain words — have YOU ever been guilty? What about stealing? Have you ever stolen from your employer? Filched pennies from someone else? "Put it over" on someone in a business deal? Stolen things off the job? Have you stolen "time" by not giving your boss a full day's work for a full day's pay? Have you ever STOLEN from God — robbed God — by failing to pay Him what you owe in tithes and offerings? (Mal. 3:10-12.) Have you ever told a lie — even a "little white lie"? Bearing false witness IS A SIN! A liar has no character. A person who lies CANNOT be trusted or depended on! Satan is the father of liars (John 8:44). Have you ever told a lie to your parents, to a police officer, to your employer, or to a friend — perhaps when you felt "on the spot," and tried to get "off the hook"? And what about coveting? Have you ever coveted or desired something which did not belong to you — something you could not afford? Children are prime examples of coveting. How often they "covet" a toy or possession of a brother. a sister, or a friend! What about you, today? Do you covet some other job, a new car, a new home, a "Hollywood" glamour star for a mate, or some other ridiculous thing? IF YOU ARE HONEST with yourself, and face the truth squarely, then you must admit that you have not only broken one or two of these laws during your life. BUT YOU HAVE PROBABLY BROKEN ALL OF THEM! If you have broken any of them, you have SINNED! And this sin is what you must repent of in order to become a Christian. What do you think, now? Do you still feel fairly "righteous" before God? If so — then pray to God that He will help you to see yourself as He sees you — and read this answer again, using it as a looking glass to see yourself!