By Bob Myhan

INTRODUCTION: The Greek word most often translated "sin" literally means to "miss the mark." Thus, we sin when we "miss the mark" which God has set for us (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 4:26). But there are other things that we need to know about sin, if we are to truly recognize it for what it is.


1.  "Transgression" - "Primarily a going aside, then, an overstepping, is used metaphorically of transgressing the tradition of the elders, Matt. 15:2; the commandment of God, 15:3; in Acts 1:25, of Judas" (Vine, page 1172).

2.  "Iniquity" - "Lawlessness" (Vine, page 600); “In 1 John 3:4, the R.V. adheres to the real meaning of the word, ‘every one that doeth sin (a practice, not the committal of an act) doeth also lawlessness: and sin is lawlessness.’ This definition of sin sets forth its essential character as the rejection of the law, or will, of God and the substitution of the will of self” (Vine, page 657).

3.  "Unrighteousness" - "The comprehensive term for wrong, or wrong-doing, as between persons" (Vine, page 1197).


1. Sins of commission

    a. Violations of God's law (1 John 3:4)

    b. Violations of your conscience (Rom. 14:1-23)

2. Sins of omission

a.  Failing to keep God's commands (1 John 5:17)

b. Failing to do what you know to be good (James 4:17)


1.  "A heavy burden" (Psalm 38:4-6; Isa. 24:20)

2.  "A foolish insanity" (Num. 12:11; 1 Sam. 13:13; 2 Sam. 24:10)

3.  "A hard taskmaster" (John 8:34; Romans 6:6,16-18; 2 Peter 2:19)

4.  "A putrefying disease" (Isa. 1:6; Hosea 7:1; 14:4; Psalm 41:4)

5.  "A defiling filth" (2 Cor. 7:1; 2 Peter 2:20-22; James 1:21)

6.  "A binding debt" (Matthew 6:12,14,15; 13:23-35)

7.  "A blemishing stain" (Psalm 51:1,2,7; Eph. 5:25-27)

8.  "An impenetrable darkness" (2 Cor. 6:14; 1 John 1:6; 2:9,11)

CONCLUSION: God’s word describes sin in the most negative of terms. He seems to want us to be as repulsed by the idea of sin as He is. Sin makes God sick (Rev. 3:16), and it should make us sick.


INTRODUCTION: In order to deal adequately with the origin of sin, it will be helpful to deal with the origin of angels, for sin did not begin with mankind.


1. Either it is the case that angels have always been or it is the case that they were created.

2. God “commanded, and they were created” (Psalm 148:1-5).

3. They were created before God “laid the foundations of the earth” (Job 38:4-7).

4. More specifically, Jesus created them (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16).


1. They are a higher order of being than man (Hebrews 2:5-7).

2. They “are greater in power and might” than man (2 Peter 2:11).

3. As “spirits,” they do not have “flesh and bone” bodies (Heb. 1:14; Luke 24:39).

    a. They neither marry nor procreate (Matthew 22:30).

    b. They are not subject to physical death (Luke 20:36).

4. They are accountable to God as “ministers” (Hebrews 1:14).


1. They are invisible to unaided human vision (Numbers 22:21-31; 2 Kings 6:14-17).

2. They generally appear as men (Genesis 19:1-16; Luke 24:1-4; John 20:11,12; Hebrews 13:2). [They don’t seem to have ever appeared as women.]

3. Highly figurative descriptions should not be taken literally.

4. Their appearances have been rare, rather than frequent.


1. Inasmuch as they sinned, they must have been under some law (2 Peter 2:4; 1 John 3:4; Romans 4:15).

2. Inasmuch as they were “sent forth to minister” (Heb. 1:14), their sin must have involved the refusal to do so.

3. They must be the devil’s angels (Matt. 25:41).

4. They are also called “devils” or “demons” (Matt. 12:22-29; Luke 11:14-22).

5. They evidently followed Satan in rebellion (1 John 3:8; John 8:44; 1 Tim. 3:6).

6. Their punishment was swift and severe (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). [Note: “hell” (KJV) is “tartarus;” also called “torment,” part of Hades - ‘the abyss” (Luke 16:23; 8:26-36; Rom. 10:7; Rev. 20:3)]

CONCLUSION: Thus, sin did not originate with man, but with the angels.


(Genesis 3:1-6)

INTRODUCTION: We have seen that sin originated among the angels. But how did sin begin where human beings are concerned?


1. The serpent (Gen. 3:1; 2 Cor. 11:3). 

2. He is also called the Devil and Satan (Rev. 12:9).

3. What was his origin?

    a. Reference is made to his angels (Rev. 12:9).

    b. Everlasting fire was created for him and them (Matt. 25:41).

    c. Surely these were the angels who sinned (2 Peter 2:4; 1 John 3:4; Rom. 4:15).

    d. He must have been an archangel [chief angel], like Michael, having had angels assigned to him by God (1 Thess. 4:16; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7).

    e. These angels assigned to him by God must be the demons that make up his kingdom (Matt. 12:22-29; Luke 11:14-22).

    f. They apparently followed Satan in rebellion (1 John 3:8; John 8:44; 1 Tim. 3:6).


1. The first human pair (Gen. 1:26,27; 2:7,18,21-25)

2. God told them what to do and what not to do (1:28; 2:15-17).

3. Had they obeyed God they would have had access to the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24).

4. They had emotions, desires, drives and needs; God had provided legitimate means of having them all fulfilled.

5. There were two ways for man to sin:

    a. Omission (by not doing what God told him to do; that is, refusing to dress and keep the garden)

    b. Commission (by doing what God told him not to do; that is, eating of the forbidden fruit)


1. The first thing Satan did was to misrepresent what God said (Gen. 3:1)

2. The second thing Satan did was to contradict what God said (Gen. 3:4).

3. The third thing Satan did was to question God's motives in issuing the prohibitive command (Gen. 3:5).

4. Thus, Satan created within the woman a desire to eat the fruit (Gen. 3:6).

5. It seems, then, that the first sin was covetousness—wanting something one cannot have with impunity.

CONCLUSION: We do not know how long Adam & Eve lived in the garden prior to the temptation. But they had thus far refrained from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The mere presence of the tree, coupled with the command not to eat thereof, was a test. They were not tempted until the serpent came along.