Just What is Sin?
82-05
Telecast Date: January 11, 1982
QR Code

   The World Tomorrow. The Worldwide Church of God presents The World Tomorrow with Herbert W. Armstrong. Ladies and gentlemen, Herbert W. Armstrong.

   Just what do you mean by the word sin? Just what is sin? What is the Bible definition?

   You know, about 45 years ago up in the town of Springfield, Oregon, an evangelist from Los Angeles was holding a tent evangelistic campaign. He had brought along with him about four or five young men of college age, very handsome and attractive young men, intelligent-looking young men, each carrying a Bible under his arm, and they were roaming around over the streets, accosting everybody they could and inviting them to come to the tent meetings.

   One of them accosted me. I happened to be in Springfield one afternoon. I said, "If I come to your meeting, will I find that your preacher preaches salvation from sin?" "Oh yes he said, Oh, yes." I said, "well, do we have to repent of sin? Do we have to forsake sin?" "Yes, indeed," he said. "Well, what is sin? What is the Bible definition of sin?" Well, he said, "Christ died for our sins." "Well, yeah, I know that. But what do you mean sin? What did he die for if I have to quit sinning? What do I have to quit doing? What have I been doing that is wrong? What is sin? If sin is something wrong, what is it?"

   Well, Christ died for our sins. You know, the crowd began to gather around, a few other people at a time. And another one of the young men came up, and I asked him. I didn't have any better luck with him. He didn't know what it was either. And pretty soon the third young man came up, and he ran and brought the evangelist himself.

   So, I said, "I want a Bible definition of sin, just like a dictionary definition. I want it: sin is, and then the definition in the Bible, in plain language, what is it? What is the definition? Can you turn to the Bible and quote it for me? Are you competent to preach in this evangelistic campaign?" Are you competent to tell people what they have to quit doing? He was disgusted. I said, "I know you know, but you don't want to tell the people." He said, "Come on, fella, let's get away from this fellow."

   By that time, quite a crowd had gathered around the evangelist, and his young man walked away. I turned to the crowd, and one of them laughed and said, "Well, someone knows how to ask the right question. He gets all tangled up. Apparently, he doesn't know what's in his own Bible."

   And I said, "Well I said, I wonder if you'd like to know what the Bible does say, what is sin?" Yes, they said they would. I said, "Well, you know what just happens accidentally, I happen to have a Bible here in my briefcase." And so, I got it out. I opened it up, and I turned to I John 3:4. And here is the definition: sin is the transgression of the law. Sin is the transgression of the law. Of course, it's talking of the law, of talking about the law of God. Sin is the transgression of God's law.

   Different churches seem to have different definitions of what is sin. I remember when I was a boy, I was raised in a very respectable Protestant denomination, a rather old Protestant denomination too. And one that had come to this country from England many, many, many years ago. I know that my church taught, for example, a pair of dice is sin. That having a deck of playing cards in your possession would be sin. A theater is in, not merely attending theater, but a theater. That may be one reason why when I was in my, oh about middle teens or younger teens, two or three of we boys, would sneak out Sunday afternoons when our parents didn't know what we were doing and go to the matinee. We wanted to learn how to sin. What is it that makes people want to sin?

   Now, if you want to sin, you might know something else that God said in the book of Romans chapter 6 and verse 23 (Romans 6:23). It says, "For the wages of sin," and wages is what you get paid for what you do. If sin is what you're doing, wages is what you get paid for doing it. So, what you get paid for sinning is death, DEATH, death. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

   Now that stumped me the first time I read it. That is a passage that had a great deal to do with the fact that I began to study the Bible for the first time. I was reared, as I say, in a Protestant Sunday school. I didn't know very much about what my church really believed, what its doctrines were. I think most of the boys my age didn't. I know in a Sunday school class, we went through the book of Proverbs year after year. We all grew up together from little tots on up until, well, when I was 18, I dropped out because I wasn't much interested. I was interested in the book of Proverbs. I wanted understanding and knowledge and wisdom, and Old Solomon had a great deal about that in the book of Proverbs, and I had become interested in that. I wanted to understand, always had wanted to understand and have understanding.

   But at age 18, I had dropped out. And then at age 34, I ran across this scripture: 'The wages of sin is death.' And I stopped and thought, and I said, 'Well, now, that's not what I was taught in church.' I remember back in church, I was taught that the wages of sin is immortal life, eternal life that would live forever. I am an immortal soul, am I not? Or I have an immortal soul, whichever, so I have, apparently I'm going to live forever. Now, of course, the wages of sin would be eternal life in hellfire. You'd be burning up forever, but you'd never quite burn up. And then the last part of that same sentence is, 'But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.' Why, if I already have eternal life, do I need that as a gift? And I think it's only a case of where I go, not a case of whether I have life or whether I have death. And here the Bible seems to say it's a matter of life or death. I thought it was a matter of whether I go up to heaven or go down a hell. And I hear people preaching that all the time, yesterday, as a matter of fact, just last night, I heard a famous evangelist preaching about going to heaven. He didn't quote any of the Bible about it because I've never been able to find it in the Bible either. I did hear the same evangelist say one time, 'The Bible says when we all get to heaven.' Now, the Bible doesn't say anything of the kind. It doesn't say anything of the kind. It teaches just the opposite. I began to wonder why do churches teach just the opposite of what the word of God says.

   Now, Jesus Christ is called the Word of God. He was the Word of God in person. But the Bible is also the Word of God. It's the same Word of God. Only the Bible is in print. The Bible is in writing, and the Word of God, Jesus, is the Word of God in person. The same Word precisely, only one is in person, and the other is in print.

   Now, the early apostles received the truth of God from the living Word of God, Jesus Christ. The early church received the truth and the doctrines that they believed from the apostles who had been the disciples of Jesus. A disciple is a learner, a student, and an apostle is one sent. They weren't apostles until they finally were ordained and sent out with the message they had been taught while they were learners or while they were students and while Jesus was teaching them. Nevertheless, today, I learned it in the same way. I learned the same from the same Word of God. Only I learned it from the Word of God in writing. The early apostles learned it from the Word of God in person. There is one difference, however, when the first-century Church of God learned the truth of God, they learned it from the apostles. They did not learn it from Jesus. The twelve disciples had learned it from Jesus, and later the apostle Paul and other apostles. But the people learned it from the apostles. Now, if the apostles had deceived them, they had no way to check up.

   You know, today I have learned the truth of God from the written Word of God. If I mislead you, you can check up because today the Word of God is in writing, and you can obtain, in fact, I think you all have a copy, anyway. The Bible is the world's number one seller. You'll find more Bibles extant and in more places than any other book. And in any other book. It's the least understood, the most maligned, the most twisted, the most mixed up, the most perverted of any book. People don't want to believe it, it seems, but it is the Word of God.

   Now, when my head began reeling when I read this passage that I just read to you, I checked up on a lot of other things. I checked up on going to heaven. I checked up on going to hell. I checked up on a lot of those things, and I began to find that what the Word of God says, in the living Word, said the same thing, and the written Word says the same thing is just the opposite of what many churches are teaching today, believe it or not.

   In the book of John in the New Testament, John's Gospel, the first chapter, in the first four verses (John 1:1-4), 'In the beginning was the Word.' Now the Word is a personage. And that Word is Jesus Christ. Originally, it was not Jesus Christ. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word, a person, a great personage, was with God. That's another personage. Now we have two personages, and the Word was God, two personages, and they're both God. Now, how could that be? Well, in Genesis one and verse one, you read (Genesis 1:1), 'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.' God created the heavens and the earth. But the words for God there, that was written by Moses in the Hebrew language, was 'Elohim,' which is a plural word, and it means more than one person. That's why in verse 26 of Genesis one (Genesis 1:26), it says, 'God said, let Us make man in Our image.' Not, 'Let Me make man in My image.' God is not just one person. There were the two persons there. Originally, the Word and God, and the Word was God, the same was in the beginning with God.

   In verse three, all things were made by Him, the Word, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. Now, in verse 14 (Genesis 1:14), we read, 'And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father.' The only human ever begotten by God. All other humans, you and I and every other human that has ever been born, were begotten by a human father. Jesus was not begotten by a human father. He was begotten by God, begotten of a human woman. But by God, He was born in a way none of us has ever been born. He was born with the spirit of God. We can only have the spirit of God on repentance and faith in Christ and real repentance and real belief and believe in Him. And then we shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. But He had the Holy Spirit from birth.

   We read again that God created, that was His occupation. He had something to do and He created all things by Jesus Christ. You read that in Ephesians three and verse nine (Ephesians 3:9), that God created all things by Jesus Christ. Now, God is the one that later came to be known as the Father, God the Father. Originally, they were just God and the Word. The Word was not the Son of God. The Word became the Son of God when He was born of the virgin Mary as a human being. And then He became the Son of God.

   But now those two had lived for perhaps thousands or millions or trillions of years alone together before there was anything else. Something had to proceed. Something can't come out of nothing, but God and the Word have both always existed. Your mind can't conceive that, nor can mine. But you have to accept that something started, life couldn't come from nowhere. In Them was life, and that was the beginning of life. Now They had lived together, and I want you to get this point. I don't think you've ever thought of it. Before They had created anything. The first thing They created, we find if you read all of the Bible, was angels.

   Now, God is a spirit. The Word was also spirit. They were not made of flesh. They created matter. You read in Genesis one verse one (Genesis 1:1) that God, Elohim, meaning the Word and God both created the heavens and the earth. Now that includes the whole vast universe they created. They had work to do, and they produced, and They got along. But the point I want to make is this, They had to exist together before there was anything else or anybody else. There was nobody else. They had to get along with each other, and They did get along.

   Now, you might ask the question: Did They always know how to get along together in peace and harmony and cooperation and love, or did they learn it the hard way? I don't know, they haven't revealed that to me. At least They knew how to get along, and They did get along, and They got along in harmony and peace, and each helping the other.

   Now, one became Jesus Christ about 1950 some years ago, and God created all things by Him. And when He came, he said, 'I have kept My Father's commandments. I and My Father are one,' and My Father, He said, is greater than I. And He gave all credit for everything to God, the Father. There was total harmony between Him and the Father. But there was One who was the leader. And if you have two people, one has to lead the other, two people are married, and they don't like God's dictum that the husband is the head of the wife. Now, that's what God says. God Almighty says that, that's what He says. But young people don't like that today, especially young girls. They say, 'Oh no, we're 50/50, we want to be 50/50.' You cannot be 50/50, put two people together, and one has to be the leader. One will be the leader, always, inevitably, it will work out that way. So, if you have a 50/50 marriage, I'll tell you who's wearing the pants in the house. Now, your guess is as good as mine, and it's not the man, but it should be, but he should rule as God does in love, in peace and harmony, and cooperation.

   Now, here were the two, and they had to get along together, but they had to produce, they had something to do. They were creators, and they were creating, they had to design what was going to be created. They had to work it out and plan it out. They had to think it out and then design and bring it out. How did they get along? They got along by living a way of a certain attitude of mind, put into practice, put into action, put in emotion, put in to living a way of living, and that way was love, mutual love. God, the Father is love. He loved His Son. He said when Jesus was born, 'This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.' Jesus loved the Father, but the Father also loved you and me so much that He gave His only begotten son to pay for your sins and mine.

   Now, He had never sinned. He was born with God's Holy Spirit. He lived a perfect life. He was tempted in every point even as you and I, He was human as well as divine. He suffered every temptation. He wanted to do all of the things of the flesh and of the mind and the vanity, He wanted to live the way of get, the same as you and I, the way of vanity and exalting the self. But He never did. He always said, 'My father is greater than I,' He never took credit or glory to himself away from the Father. Jesus Christ was always obedient and He never sinned. And when He was willingly put to death, and they couldn't have put Him to death if He hadn't allowed it. He died in the place of you and me.

   Now you've committed sins. So have I, and people bring up some of the sins you've committed in the past. But if you have repented of them and turned from them and accept that Jesus Christ is your savior to pay the penalty and you're instead they're paid for and they're not against you any longer. Christ came and died. He lived a perfect life. He didn't inherit the death penalty, but He paid it for you and He paid it for me. I can't help what anybody might accuse me of in the past. It's all wiped clean. The slate is wiped clean by the death of Jesus Christ. And I have Him to thank for that and God the Father to thank for it because He gave Christ, and the Son had love for the Father, but He had obedience to the Father. He had loyalty. It is a way, and that became the law of God. And it's the one word, love.

   Now, that law is translated into what we call the two great Commandments. One is, 'Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God with all in mind and your heart, your soul, and your strength.' And the second one is like unto it, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,' is love toward God, love toward your neighbor. Now, the 10 Commandments, the first four tell you how to love God. The last six of the 10 Commandments tell you how to love your neighbor. It's just that simple.

   Now, what is sin? Sin is the transgression of the law. You will read in II Corinthians 3:6 that we ministers under the New Testament are ministers of the Spirit, not of the letter of the law, but of the Spirit. And that's the obvious meaning of the obvious principle or intent. It's the principle of love, and love is always outflowing. It's giving, it's yielding to God. It is all in God, above the self. It's giving all the glory to God. It's humility, it's obedience, but it's giving, and God is the greatest giver of all.

   Sin, then, is getting; sin is vanity. Sin is the way this world has gone, over in I John, here's a definition of sin: 'All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world' Ś desire, vanity, all of those things. Sin is not a matter of just so many little specific picky, picky laws, so you have to spell it out. You know, man's laws are different. Every policeman is required to enforce at least six times as many laws as his mind could possibly remember because we have so many laws. God just has the one law, but it spreads out; it applies all the wayŚlove toward God, love toward neighbor, as you love yourself.

   And the self, your own body, is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God gives you a responsibility for taking care of it, protecting it, and health, keeping it under your own control. And a lot of us don't even love ourselves that much, and we don't love others. Sin is the way of getting; sin is the way of 'I love me.' Sin is vanity. Sin is exalting the self. God and Jesus did not live like that. They lived in cooperation, and they had peace.

   When the world is taught to live that way, and it will when Christ comes again in power and in great authority as He soon will come, He's going to rule all nations in this world and enforce the way of love. And humanity is going to be forced to become happy and to have peace and to be joyful and find life really worth living abundantly at last. Will God speed that day?

   I'd like to offer you once again, a book that I've mentioned before. It's a little booklet that says 'Never Before Understood: Why Humanity Cannot Solve Its Evils.' What's wrong with this world? Look at the paradox. Look at the marvelous things that have been done in the 20th century. Look at the marvelous accomplishments of science, of governments, of human beings, and yet look at our evils, look what we're doing to one another.

   I mentioned this book before. There's no charge whatsoever. I'd be glad to send you a copy. 'Never Before Understood.' And we'll send you also a sample copy of 'The Plain Truth.' You can have a year's subscription, no subscription price at all, but receive a sample copy. It's one of the world's mass circulation great magazines, with more than 4 million copies every month, and it goes to no one except those who subscribe for it for themselves. I hope you will. Here's a leading article: 'Europe Winds of Change Before the Storm.' Here's an article: 'The Death of a Statesman' about Sadat. This was the December 1981 number: 'The Laws of Radiant Health.' 'One Last Look at a Remarkable Neighbor,' and it's a last look at Saturn and Jupiter and many illustrations in beautiful color. And then 'Battle for Central Europe.' It's a magazine of Understanding and it explains what is going on in the world and what is going to happen according to Bible prophecy. Here is a chart of the armaments of the world, and comparing with how much the different nations are spending on education and on physical health. So many of them are spending more on armaments than they are on education and physical health and things of that sort. Here's an article: 'To Hell and Back,' a man who really went to hell and came back. We'll send you a copy of 'The Plain Truth.'

   There's no price, no subscription price whatsoever. Now, all you do is send your request for the booklet and we'll also send you along a copy of The Plain Truth magazine. If you're not already a subscriber to me, Herbert W Armstrong Pasadena, California 91123. That's all the address you need. Just Herbert W Armstrong Pasadena, California zip code 91123. Or why don't you just go to a telephone and call toll-free? There's no charge for the telephone call. A free call. You dial 800-423-4444. Now, that's an 800 dial 423-4444. If the lines are busy, keep trying because many people are there and they'll be there for a long time waiting for your call. Now, if you live in California, Alaska or Hawaii, then call collect area code 213-577-5555. Area code 213-577-5555. This is Herbert W Armstrong, goodbye friends.

   For the free literature offered on this program, write Herbert W Armstrong Pasadena, California 91123 in Canada Box 44, Vancouver BC or in the continental United States. You may call this toll-free number 800-423-4444 in California, Alaska and Hawaii call collect 213-577-5555. If the lines are busy, please try again. The preceding program and all literature were produced by the Worldwide Church of God.

Please Note: The FREE literature offered on this program are no longer available through the Address and Phone Number given, please visit www.hwalibrary.com for all FREE literature offered on this program.

Telecast Date: January 11, 1982
Back To Top