What’s Sin and What’s Out?

The discussion on the Groupsects blog around Jennifer Knapp got me thinking – Do we really know for sure when we are sinning, and if we don’t can there be true repentance for that sin?

In the OT Sin refers to the breaking of God’s law.  In the NT that concept still applies, but also there is perhaps a concept of sin being anything that breaks relationship with God.

Sin is thought of as relating to breaking a moral code, however it is possibly more encompassing than that.  There are sins of ommission (ie. neglecting to do something) as well as commission.

Now as Teddy said “We all sin daily and we sin much”, but how much of it are we really aware of?  Lets take a couple of examples :

1.  One person has a hostile relationship with his ex-wife.  Is he in sin?  The hostile relationship may be justified or un-justified.  If its justified, presumably he is not in sin – sometimes hostilities are required in life.  What about if its partially justified?  What if the person tends to have hostile relationships with many people in his life?  Would he be in sin in this case?  But he would presumably not be aware that this pattern of sin was occurring in his life, or otherwise he would stop it. 

2.  An organisation hires people on 12-month contracts, but has no intention of honoring those contracts.  They treat them as temporary employment agreements and they have clauses that allow the employer to terminate at will.  The advantage to the organisation is that they can get people at lower rates if they offer 12 month contracts.  Are the managers who made the decision in sin?  Or are they making a good commercial decision in looking after their share-holders?  Is it up to the employees to check every clause and are they at fault if they thought it was a fixed-term employment agreement?  If someone in the organisation becomes aware of this fact, should he warn employees?  Is he in sin if he dosent?  What if he knows he will be sacked if he does warn the other employees, and he has dependents?  Is he justified in omitting the warning and no longer in sin?


When we repent and ask for forgiveness do we need to be aware of all the sins we have committed?  Is this even possible given that every action, thought and decision we make has the potential for sinning?

—  Wazza2

2 thoughts on “What’s Sin and What’s Out?

  1. Some thoughts on the subject written in a Charles Spurgeon sermon “The Clean and the Unclean”…

    “Every morning we ought to ask the Lord to keep us from unknown sins, to preserve us from temptations that we cannot foresee, to check us in every part of life if we are about to go wrong, and to hold us up every hour that we sin not.

    “Shut not your eyes to sin, but keep Christ always before you, and you will walk aright.”

    “Two prayers I ask all my hearers to pray—they are very brief — “Lord show me myself.” If there is any man here who says he would pray but he does not know what to pray for; pray that every night and morning —”Lord show me myself” and if God hear you, you will soon be in such a wretched state that you will want another prayer, and then I give you this — “Lord show me thyself;” and then if he shall show you himself hanging on the tree, the expiation for guilt, the Great God become man that he might put away sin, your salvation will be accomplished.”

    “Tis all the prayer that is wanted — “Lord show me myself; Lord show me thyself; reveal sin and reveal a Savior.” Lord, do this for all of us for thy name’s sake.” Charles Spurgeon

    I love those words “Lord show me myself – Lord show me Thyself”.

  2. “When we repent and ask for forgiveness do we need to be aware of all the sins we have committed? Is this even possible given that every action, thought and decision we make has the potential for sinning?” -wazza2

    Ha! Good topic.

    God is very merciful to us, and knows that we cannot possibly be aware of every sin we commit; He knows us better than we know ourselves. Jesus said, ‘Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do“, even as the most grievous sin was being committed against Him. He interceded for them, even though they didn’t repent or have a clue that they were sinning – you’d think that crucifying someone is such a violent act, that there’d be some pang of conscience. Yet Christ interceded.

    So then, I don’t think the Lord expects us to be conscious of every sin when we ask for forgiveness, as He has already demonstrated his overwhelming generosity towards even those who crucified Him when they were not conscious of what they were doing.

    If we were the ones doing the forgiving though – we’d probably be far less generous in the face of something so horrendous done to us, or even far more minor things. Anyone ever been furious when some car cuts you off somehow in traffic? Ever called the other driver some kind of name? Or some similar event?

    However, God again in His mercy, also gives us the process of sanctification over time, so that we don’t have to endure a lifetime of no progress whatsoever in overcoming different types of sin in our lives. The more we listen to Him, the more we have a chance to grow in that area, especially if our attitude of repentance is ongoing, and willing to face whatever He brings to our awareness.

    For example, God has been working in me on how I deal with anger towards my kids. I’ve prayed about this a lot, and put some effort into getting a bit more educated on the subject as well. Its been taking some time, and I’m still far from perfect, but when I get angry (which isn’t necessarily sin), I now deal with it better, more often. I still snap at times and act badly. But I know I’ve improved, and I’m grateful, especially since I want to be both an effective and loving parent.


    The office situation that wazza mentioned is very interesting. As a Christian in the workplace, I thought a lot about that kind of thing. Particularly working for one or two dysfunctional organisations, including in one case for a boss who turned out to be dishonest with his staff. (Tryed to rip off their super.) I think its even more complicated when the workplace is a church setting, where people aren’t supposed to think badly of their superiors, regardless of how they are treated and sacrifice is expected to some undefined level.

    However, I think its easily answered. All Christians have a call to love their neighbour as themself, and if a manager wouldn’t want a certain contractual behaviour to occur towards him/herself (I’ve worked for a female manager who would have loved to do what wazza describes if she’d thought of it), then they ought not to support it. In fact, they have a duty towards those with less power than they have, to ensure that they are treated respectfully and fairly, and not taken advantage of due to their less powerful status. Likewise, employees should have the same attitudes to their manager, and not set out to deliberately make their lives miserable (as I’ve also seen happen).

    If someone in an organisation knows of the arrangement wazza describes and doesn’t warn others about it, I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are in sin, as it depends upon their circumstances. If they were in a position to actually do something about it, that would be great. If he has dependents, he has a duty to look after them and might want to not rock the boat, especially if work is hard to come by. However, if it was possible to discretely warn others, and they were trustworthy in terms of confidentiality, that could be a good thing to do. Really, the only thing to do would be to pray for wisdom in that circumstance.

    I was once put in a position where I was asked to behave unethically by my boss. In my situation, I wrote him a letter, refused to do as I’d been asked, and offered to resign over it. I had no dependents, so it was easier for me. Had I done as asked though, it would have been corrupt. You just don’t want to go down that path, regardless of the initial cost. The cost later could be far greater. As it happened, the boss liked my stubborness, and rewarded me with a promotion and payrise, so you just can’t tell how things will go.

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