What is the Essence of SIN?

What does it look like to sin against God? In contrast, what does it look like to obey God? The Bible gives many definitions and descriptions of sin, but in Isaiah 66 we find a clear example of the essence of sin. Isaiah provides four poignant statements that get to the heart of what it really means to sin against God.

In Isaiah 66:3 he writes, “These have chosen their own ways and their soul delights in their abominations.” We see the first two gripping descriptions of sin in this passage. First of all, sin at its core means that we choose our own ways instead of choosing God’s ways.

In Isaiah 66:3 we also see the second description of sin as delighting in abominations. The word “delight” connotes an eager or zealous desire that finds pleasure in abominations. An abomination is something that God absolutely hates. In other words, sin is loving and cherishing what God actually hates.

The third way in which Isaiah describes the essence of sin comes in 66:4 where he describes God calling to Israel and their refusal to listen: “Because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not listen, but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that which I did not delight.” Sin means that we fail to listen to God. We plug our spiritual ears in an attempt to drown out God’s call in our lives to be holy. We flagrantly turn our backs on Him and walk away in our stubborn refusal to listen.

Isaiah sums up the fourth attribute of sin in 66:24 where he writes, “Men have rebelled against me. For the worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched.” Stripped down to its bare essence, sin is rebellion against God. It means that we shake our fist in anger at Him for telling us how to live and what to believe, and we conspire to take over His rightful place to rule our lives. In this passage, Isaiah describes the reality of hell as the final place of eternal conscious torment for those who die in their sin without trusting in Christ for salvation.

So Isaiah defines sin as (1) choosing our own way instead of God’s way, (2) loving what God hates, (3) stubbornly refusing to listen to God, and (4) outright rebellion against Him as Lord.

So what should we do in response to this? What is the exact opposite of these descriptions of sin? In order to obey the Lord, we should (1) choose God’s ways according to His Word, (2) hate what God hates, (3) actively listen to Him, and (4) willingly submit to His Lordship in our lives.

Isaiah sums up what this positive respond to God actually looks like in 66:2 which reads, “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite and trembles at my word.” Does that describe you? Do you humble yourself under God’s sovereign hand of holiness? Do you evidence a contrite and broken heart that truly mourns your sin and desires to repent? Do you tremble at God’s Word?

Do you display a humble, passionate brokenness and willingness to surrender yourself to the Lordship of Christ? The warning in very clear: Those who persist in unrepentant rebellion and sin will experience the torment of hell, while those who humble themselves before Jesus by trusting in His finished work on the cross and resurrection will experience the joy of eternal life with Him? Today, which will you choose?

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