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Questions for discussion (from Good Word Online):

Like many other theological words, “sin” is widely used, but it’s precise definition is somewhat mysterious.

  1. (Gen 4:6-7) While the first sin took place in Eden, the first explicit mention of the word “sin” appears in Gen 4:7. Read this passage carefully. What “picture” of sin is presented by this verse? Is failure to do right sin, or does it leave us vulnerable to sin? How do the words “desire” and “master” (NIV) in this verse connect with earlier parts of the narrative? In short, what can we learn about the nature of sin from this first usage of the word in the Bible?
  2. (Gen 3) What was so wrong with Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden of Eden? Was it distrust of God? Desire for knowledge? Pride? Carelessness? Deception? Something else? Does sin separate us from God, or does separation from God cause us to sin?
  3. (1 John 3:4) This passage presents one of the most common definitions of sin. What law is being referred to here? What if someone has no knowledge of the law-are they still guilty of sin? Finally, are some sins more serious than others? Would God rather that I lie to someone or murder that person-or are both the same to him?
  4. (Exo 20:17; Mat 5:28) Clearly, sin is not merely an act or behavior. It is also something that can take place internally. Are “internal” sins less serious than “external” sins, or are both the same in the eyes of God? If everyone you met today could read your mind, how comfortable would you be going out in public? Would you be happy to be better understood, or would you be ashamed of yourself?
  5. (Mat 23:23; Mat 25:45) Both these passages suggest that sin is not simply an act, or an internal state of mind. Sin can also be failing to do what we know we ought to do. This is often referred to as a sin of omission. Adventists have sometimes focused on what not to do. How would life change for you if, instead of trying to avoid wrong, you tried to do right?
  6. Many theologians have noted a distinction between the sinful nature we inherit from Adam and Eve (Sin) and sinful acts that we commit (sins). If we want freedom from a life of Sin, how helpful is it to work at eradicating specific sins from our life? Is there a better way?
  7. (Rom 7:14-20) While we all find that we sometimes do what we don’t want to do (vs.15), research indicates that men exhibit more “poor behavior” than women. For example, men are more likely to be violent, to steal, to engage in sexual impropriety, etc. Are men by nature more sinful than women? Is the issue our definition or way in which we rank sins?
  8. What responsibility do we have for the sins committed by our community, church, or nation?
  9. In the clearest way possible, describe the biblical solution to the problem of sin.