Billy Graham was once asked, “What is the definition of sin?” He gave the following answer:
“A sin is any thought or action that falls short of God’s will. God is perfect, and anything we do that falls short of His perfection is sin.”
The Hebrew and Greek words translated “sin” largely around two major concepts. The first is that of transgression. To transgress means “to step across” or “to go beyond a set boundary or limit.”
The second concept means, “to miss the mark.” If a player aims for a goal and misses, how many points does he get? None. He missed the goal or the mark.
Sin, then, is to transgress those boundaries God has set for us or to miss the target He set for us.
These biblical definitions of sin define what is acceptable to God. He holds us to a high standard. In fact, His standard is impossible to fulfill without the never-ending forgiveness and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Mr. Graham has also been asked whether all sins are equal in God’s eyes. He responded with this comment:
“It is always difficult and dangerous to attempt to list sins according to their degree of seriousness. In one sense, all sins are equal in that they all separate us from God. The Bible’s statement, ‘For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23), applies to all sin, whether in thought, word, or deed.’”
In the Old Testament, God applied different penalties to different sins, thus suggesting variations in the seriousness of some sins. A thief paid restitution; an occult practitioner was cut off from Israel; one who committed adultery or a homosexual act or cursed his parents was put to death (See Exodus 22 and Leviticus 20).
So, if one were to compare the sins of pride and murder, I believe most of us would acknowledge pride as the lesser of two evils. This may be so. But if we took a deeper look into the sin of pride, we would discover it is the root of many egregious acts.
Pride grows. It develops and lead us into darker and more serious transgressions. It is insidious. Pride increases gradually and in very subtle ways, but with harmful effects. It is treacherous. The enemy uses this sin of arrogance in crafty, cunning, and indirect ways. Satan is sneaky so he uses sneaky tactics.
The ruler of this world has already influenced our way of thinking. Society embraces pride as an acceptable emotion; be it pride for a job well done, a gay pride demonstration, or a businessman who sealed a multimillion-dollar deal. Even school children are encouraged to cultivate their self-pride under the guise of building self-confidence and self-esteem. Instead, children should be taught to be God focused. We would serve children better by instructing them to find their confidence in the Word of God.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
The enemy is working hard to move our focus from God to self. This change of focus leads to self-glorification. Man’s attitude of entitlement has grown to a place of absurdity. We cheer each other on with affirmations of, “You deserve it” and “If it feels good, by all means, do it!”
But God created us to glorify Him. Nothing we do is accomplished through our own power. The Creator knit all of our talents and gifts into us. He gave us these treasures to edify the body of Christ and fulfill His will for us.
When we smile and say, “Look what I’ve accomplished” without acknowledging God in the process, we overstep. Pride has tarnished our thinking and robbed God of glory.
“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 (NIV ) People who march in gay pride parades boasting of their homosexual lifestyle are deceived. (Read Ro. 1:26-28 and Leviticus 18:22) Professionals who earn big paychecks and thinking they are the “cat’s meow” have forgotten the scripture that states, “The LORD sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts.” 1 Samuel 2:7 (NIV).
Pride is a more serious evil than we give it credit. Take time to meditate on your recent accomplishments. Do you see the hand of God in them? Be sure to praise Him for these blessings. He is worthy of all our praise.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV)
“’Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NKJV)
We would do well to remember our place. We are God’s creation. Through the blood of Jesus, we are the adopted children of God, but we remain the Creator’s creation.
“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11 (NKJV)
“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4 (NIV)