Sin and Imperfection

What is sin? How is sin related to imperfection? What are some of the categories of sin? Learn the answers to these questions about sin here.

What is Sin?

"Sin" is failure to live up to God's standards of perfection (also known as "missing the mark"). Being "imperfect" is being inferior to God's standards of perfection. "Sin" is the behavior associated with the state of being "imperfect".

God's commandments are derived from God's standards of perfection.
Therefore, to violate one of God's commandments is to fail to live up to God's standards of perfection, that is, to "sin".

The sinlessness--the perfection--of Yeshua [Jesus Christ] is described in
1 Peter 1:19 this way:

1 Peter 1:19

"But by precious Blood as of a Lamb, without blemish and spotless: Christ".

This verse recalls Numbers 19:2
, which describes the characteristics of the sacrificial red heifer. Any "spot", or any "blemish"--any "sin"--would be imperfection.

All people besides Yeshua [Jesus] have sinned: all people besides Jesus [God, the Son] have failed to live up to God's standards of perfection.

Romans 3:23

"23 For all people have sinned, and are lacking the Glory of God."

However, Yehovah [God] Himself is glorified in Zephaniah 3:5 because "He has not failed".

Zephaniah 3:5

"The Righteous Yehovah [God] in the midst of her, He did not act unjustly: in the morning, in the morning, His Justice He gave through the light. He has not failed, and does not experience 'unjust person' shame."

To say that we "come short of", or "are lacking the Glory of God" is to acknowledge that we have failed, but God has not failed.
We have failed God: we have been "unfaithful" (or "untrustworthy"). God has not failed us: He is always faithful and trustworthy.

God considers every sin--every imperfection--unacceptable. This Biblical point of view can be seen in James 2:10-11.

James 2:10-11

"10 For anyone who will be keeping the entire Law, except will be falling in one [law], has become guilty of all.

11 For the One saying 'you should not be committing adultery' also said 'you should not be murdering'. If you  are not committing adultery, yet you are murdering, you have become a violator of the Law."

The sins of committing adultery and murdering are named only as examples; violation of any law causes a person to "become a violator of the Law".

Categories of Sins

Although sins do not differ in their being unacceptable to God, there are other ways in which sins do differ from each other. These differences may be used to categorize sins. Some examples of categories of sins are:

  • action (commission or omission);
  • injured party (one’s self or other people);
  • lethality (fatal or non-fatal);
  • intention (intentional or unintentional); and
  • forgivability (forgivable or unforgivable).

Action: Commission or Omission

Many people are aware of the difference between a "sin of commission" ("committing", or "doing", something that a person knows he or she should not do) and a "sin of omission" ("omitting", or "not doing", something that a person knows he or she should do).  Regarding what we should and should not do, Yeshua [Jesus] gave us a simple, easy to remember rule, which is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Matthew 7:12

"12 All then, however you may be willing that people may be doing to you, you also similarly be doing this to them! For this is the Law and the Prophets."

Luke 6:31

"31 And as you are willing that people may be doing to you, you also be doing to them similarly."

This is the so-called "Golden Rule", commonly paraphrased as "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or "treat others the way you want to be treated".

If we do something to another person that we would not want done to us, then we are guilty of a "sin of commission", because we have committed an act which we should not have done.

If we fail to do something for another person that we would want done for us, then we are guilty of a "sin of omission", because we have omitted an act which we should have done.

Perhaps the clearest Biblical statement regarding a "sin of omission" is in James.

James 4:17

"17 Consequently, to someone who has perceived the ideal to be doing, yet [is] not doing [it], to him [or her] it is sin."

Injured Party: One’s Self or Other People

When we sin, we do not injure God. We only harm others, or ourselves.

Job 35:5-8

"5 Look at the Heavens, and see! Notice the skies--they are high above you!

6 If you sin, what are you doing to Him? And your transgressions (they are many), what are you accomplishing against Him?

7 If you are righteous, what are you giving to Him? Or what is He receiving from your hand?

8 Your wickedness is to a human like yourself; and your righteousness is to the child of a human."

God's anger over sins is not because of harm which people cause to Him, because people do not harm Him. God is angered by the unjust harm which sins cause to people.

In Psalm 51:4, David says that he had sinned against God, and God only (the sin in question involved one of David's soldiers, Uriah the Hittite; and Uriah's wife, Bathsheba). It is true that sin is a violation of God's Law; from this perspective, it is only against God. However, the injury is done to people.

In Yeshua (Jesus) (who is both God and man), the sin against God came together with the injury against people. He did suffer (and even die) to defeat the devil, become perfect, and be merciful toward His people (Hebrews 2:9-18).

Most sins which people commit cause direct harm only to other people; but sins of a sexual nature also cause injury to the body of the person that commits them.

1 Corinthians 6:18

"18 Run from sexual perversion! Every penalty of whatever sin a person does is outside of the body except, that anyone committing sexual perversion is sinning against his [or her] own body."

If we harm ourselves, we can shorten our own lives--or even end them. As terrible as committing sins against others is, when a person sins against himself or herself, that person potentially shortens the time that he or she has to "repent" (to "turn away", and cease, from sinful activity, and begin obeying God).

Though all types of sins are equally unacceptable from God's point of view, from the point of view of an individual sinner, a sin against one's own self may be perceived as worse than a sin against others. This "individual sinner's" point of view is the perspective emphasized in 1 Corinthians 6:18. Seeking people's obedience, God inspired Paul to appeal to each reader's self-interest and desire for self-preservation.

Lethality: Fatal or Non-fatal

In Romans 6:23, Paul was inspired by God to write:

Romans 6:23

"23 For the wages of sin: death. Yet the effect of God's Grace: life everlasting, in Christ Jesus, our Lord."

However, people obviously do not always die immediately after sinning.

There are times, though, when people do die immediately because of their sin. The Bible gives us different directions for our behavior based on whether or not another person dies immediately after sinning.

1 John 5:16-17

"16 If anyone perceives his [or her] brother [or sister] sinning a non-fatal sin, he [or she] will ask [God]; and He [God] will be giving life to them (to the ones not fatally sinning). Fatal sin exists; I am not saying that he [or she] should be asking [God] about that.

17 Every wrongdoing is a sin; and non-fatal sins exist."

Intention: Intentional or Unintentional

Sins also differ according to whether they are "intentional" (intended by the sinning person) or "UNintentional" (not intended by the sinning person: a true "accident").

We will examine this category in detail in Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit, Part 2: Intentional Sin Vs. Unintentional Sin. However, we will first examine the difference between forgivable and unforgivable sin.

Forgivability: Forgivable or Unforgivable

We will examine this category next, in Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit, Part 1: Unforgivable Sin.


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