Ask DEEPERDEVOTION recently received the following question: “How do I know if I am sinning?”
This is a great question, but it assumes that the person asking the question has a biblical understanding of sin. To ensure that we’re all on the same page, let’s quickly identify what the Bible considers a sin.
Sin, simply defined, is that which dishonors God. One author, basing his definition of sin on Deuteronomy 6:5, defines sin as “dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences.” Another author has defined it as “any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.” The purpose of this definition is to emphasize that sin is not defined by actions alone. God has testified to this through the Ten Commandments by condemning the sins of the heart as well as the sins of the mind. Therefore, sin can also be defined as any failure to conform to the moral law of God, regardless of whether it matures into an observable action or not.
So how do you determine if a certain thought or action is considered a sin? I would contend that God has given you three resources for answering such a question: the written Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and the accountability of other believers.
If you have a question about whether something is dishonoring to God, your first step should always be to consult the Bible. Regardless of the situation, you can always be certain that scripture is sufficiently able to answer your questions (2 Timothy 3:16).
Though scripture is sufficient, believers have also been promised the help of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). It is through His conviction and assistance that believers are made aware of their sins as well as given the opportunity to personally seek God for advice (James 1:5).
Finally, we must not forget how significant the gift of the church is to the children of God. We are called to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). This means two things: 1) You need to be honest with friends and family by lovingly confronting them when they are entrapped by sin. 2) You need to be honest and open with those around you so that they can effectively hold you accountable to God’s standards.
One final disclaimer: If you are truly a child of God, you probably know the answer to your question before you ask it.