1. What is sin?

(a) "Sin is lawlessness" (anomia). This is a state of refusal to be controlled by God. The 
Authorized Version here (1 John 3:4), "Sin is transgression of the Law," is inadequate and misleading. The Greek word anomia means lawlessness. Transgression of the Law would be parabasis nomou, an action, but anomia, lawlessness, is a state. Again, the translation is misleading, because it puts all the race under the Ten Commandments, which were given to Israel only (Ps. 147:19, 20; Mal. 4:4; Rom. 9:4): and for life on earth. "Do not commit adultery, steal, kill ... covet" do not pertain to life in heaven! The translation is inadequate--utterly so! For when God said, "Sin is anomia--lawlessness," He spake of the creature's inner refusal to Divine control. Sin is that departure from the Creator which follows a will of its own. So it was with Satan (Ezek. 28). The end of such a course is seen in Isaiah 14:12 ff., in the Antichrist's (figured by the king of Babylon) saying, "I will be like the Most High" (Isa. 14:14).


* The Ten Commandments, "holy, just and good," were fitted to the life of an earthly nation. Paul could get on with them till he came to the tenth--"Thou shalt not covet" (lit., desire). This slew him; or rather, indwelling sin, obtaining this means, "beguiled" him. "Through the commandment," as he says, "sin became exceedingly sinful." This was God's object: "The Law was given that the trespass might abound." Mr. Darby well says: "Sin is equivalent to the spirit of self-will and unrestrainedness, whether man's will or not. When there was Law, its acts were actual transgressions; but without this, sin was there, though there were no such actual transgressions till Law entered ... There can be no transgressions when there is no law. What is there to transgress? But self-will and lust, lawlessness, there may be. It is the state of fallen man: only the Law made it 'exceedingly sinful.'"

When Adam willed to eat the fruit, he departed from God into what is called sin. Scripture says:

(b) "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
(c) "The thought of foolishness is sin."
(d) "All unrighteousness is sin."

Sin is an entity, a power! It is a thing, having energy!

2. How does sin "deceive"? Sin deceives in many ways. It has every advantage.

  • It has "pleasures." It invites with charms, false glamor.
  • Sin is a great promiser--of all earthly successes. It blinds the eyes, stifles the conscience, hardens the heart, and says all shall be well. Its prophets keep promising sinners liberty--"promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption" (2 Peter 2:19—a solemn chapter, which please read). Most of the people you meet are hardened and blinded by some form of sin--terrible thought!
  • The creature is most forgetful of unpleasant warnings.
  • The creature has self-confidence--unlimited! "I can quit" (some habit) is in his heart, and how often in his mouth! But our Lord warned, "Everyone that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin" (John 8:34).

3. How does the deceitfulness of sin harden?

  • Because of delayed judgment. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Eccl. 8:11). God's long suffering is therefore despised. Thousands around about the sinner keep sinning and are not immediately stricken: thus comes false peace!
  • Sin deceives by appearing harmless, promising good or enjoyment; by the fact that its victims think, "Others are doing it"; by taking advantage of ignorance of the Word of God: so that the victim listens to the voice of false teachers, who say, "You are all right if you are sincere!" Millions are thus being sincerely lost, like those who sailed sincerely on the Lusitania, and sailed to their death. Sin looks so fair--before it is committed! And after one has committed it, it so deceives and hardens that at the worst, like Adam and Eve, we try to shield ourselves from the consequences of our nakedness till GOD comes upon the scene.
  • A Conscience ignored is slowly hardened & stupefied--finally "seared as with a hot iron." Unless God sends immediate poignant conviction, it is more easy to sin the second time than the first. At last comes the fearful state described to Moses by Jehovah:

"Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from Jehovah our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; and it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart, to destroy the moist with the dry" (Deut. 29:18, 19).

No wonder we read after this last state, "Then the anger of Jehovah, and His jealousy will burn against that man, and all the curse that is written in this book shall lie upon him"! (vs. 20).

from William Newell Hebrews Verse by Verse