How do you know what is sin? Do you let your pastor decide that for you? Do you let your political party tell you what it is? Do you let society define it? Maybe you just go with what feels right to you. The fact is that none of these have the power to define what is right in God’s sight and what is wrong. There is only one source that defines what is sin and what is not. It’s the Holy Bible. God’s Word was written by about 40 people over the period of about 1,500 years. II Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is inspired by God.
We know that even though it was written by so many people over such a long period of time, that it was all inspired by God. The beauty of God’s Word is that it stands the test of time and will remain relevant forever because human nature doesn’t change. The Bible looks at human nature, defines what sin is, but more importantly, shows us how to get forgiveness from it and how to avoid it. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved” (NLT).
To avoid falling into sin, we must first know what sin is to God. James 4:17 gives us a simple definition of sin. It says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” If you know what’s right and then choose not to do it, then you’re sinning. The Bible is also filled with other things that it names as sin like lying, adultery, stealing, etc. at the heart of each of those and every other sin is that basic definition. You know there’s a right and a wrong and you’re willfully choosing the wrong.
So how do we avoid falling prey to our desire to do the things we want to do, but aren’t the right things? Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” If we want to know what sin is and also to have the ability to overcome it, we must put God’s Word in our heart. We must read it, understand it, meditate on it, and memorize it so that we can live the way God wants us to. It’s not up to other people to tell you what it says. It’s up to you to read it and to understand it. When it come to your eternity, don’t rely on second hand information alone.
The world has always tried to get the Church to adopt its culture. It wants us to give up or back down from what we believe so we can fit in better. It wants us to accept what it says over what God says. It wants us to question, “Did God really mean it that way?” Satan tried it in the Garden of Eden. He asked Eve, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” He then challenged what God said and got her to believe the lie. Since the beginning, we have been tempted to wonder if what God said is really what he meant.
I’m always saddened to see how many believers fall for this temptation. It doesn’t matter what the sin is, the world would have us question what God calls sin in exchange for acceptance in its culture. It appeals to our deep seated human need to feel accepted, but it challenges our spiritual need to be set apart. In Romans 12:2, Paul challenges us as believers by saying, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. (MSG)” God has never asked His people to fit in.
Daniel faced the same thing in the Old Testament. Israel had been overtaken by the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the head of his palace staff to find the best and brightest prospects for leadership. In Daniel 1:4 he said, “Indoctrinate them in the Babylonian language and the lore of magic and fortune telling.” He wanted to take Israel’s future leaders and indoctrinate them so he could change the culture that God had given them. Of all the young men he did this to, we only know of four who refused to accept the Babylonian culture.
Verse 8 says, “But Daniel determined that he would not defile himself.” He refused to fit into the culture that was being forced on him because he understood God’s Word superseded culture. He knew God’s Word does not change with the times or the culture. He and his three friends stood firm in their beliefs. Because of that, he was thrown into a den of lions and the other three were thrown into a fiery furnace. God rewarded their faith by keeping them alive in those situations in an effort to proclaim that He rewards those who do not bow to social pressures.
Every day you and I are forced with the same choice as they were. We can choose to bow to the will of the world or we can choose to stand for God’s Word. We can believe the lie that God didn’t really mean what He said all those years ago or we can trust that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We have been called to be set apart, not to fit in. We have been given the responsibility to be light in a dark world. We cannot change what God said in order to fit in. When we do, our light goes out and we fit into the darkness without thinking. We must shine our lights and lead the world to the cross where salvation lies. We cannot give in.