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I was asked to come up with a definition of sin in a way a child or a teenager would understand. Not one like anything that separates us from God, or hurts our relationship with God. Could you help? Your brother in Christ. - Robert

In understanding sin, you cannot get away from the effects of sin, which is that it separates us from God (Isa 59:1-2). But talking about the effects of sin is not the same as talking about sin itself. The Bible itself gives a definition of sin.

"Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4)."

Living without God's "laws" is sin. In fact, the word, "sin" literally means, "to miss the mark." My favorite illustration is that of a target and an arrow. When you shoot an arrow at the target, and it falls short of the target, that is sin. If you shoot the arrow beyond the target, that is what the Bible calls "transgression," which is going too far and doing something you are not supposed to do.

While many people may feel they are not "sinners" because they have not murdered or committed adultery, what they really mean is that they have not "transgressed." But there are other clear transgressions, such as lust, envy, lying, gossip, and things such as these, which probably everyone has committed. So we are all transgressors. As far as falling short, there is no doubt we are all guilty of this. None of us has lived up to all that God tells us to do, such as love our enemies. That is why the Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Rom 3:23)."

John Telgren
P.O. Box 452
Leavenworth, KS 66048
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