Exodus 20:20

 Moses said to the people,
“Do not be afraid
The Elohim
 has come to test you
and to put the reverence of Him upon you
so that you do not sin.” 

Sin - the word is used a lot. Everyone’s heard it many times. But what is it, really? Scripture is filled with references to it. We all seem to have an understanding that it started in The Garden of Eden, and most are quick to point a finger at Eve and to blame her for the mess we’re in.

We seem to recognize that in some way or another we’re all guilty of “sinning”. And most of us have heard the concept of “original sin”, although few of us really understand what that means. All we know is that “we’re born in sin” and now we have to learn how to deal with that reality. But what does that really mean, to be “born in sin”?

This article will attempt to help clarify just what sin is, from a Scriptural perspective and not merely from a human perspective. We’ll take a look at the terms used and their meanings. We’ll also look at what Scripture presents as a potential solution for the issue. Along the way you’re probably going to learn some things you’ve not been taught before. Are you ready to learn? Or do you already think you know the “right answers”. You may be very significantly surprised.

Let’s begin with what sin is - as defined by Scripture, not by Webster’s Dictionary. We’ll look at that also, but first we should see what YAHWEH says about it in His Word. You might be surprised to discover that it’s not used in the story of The Garden of Eden. It occurs first in Genesis 4.7 in connection with Kayin and Hebel, after Kayin murdered his brother. Even then it’s not tied directly to that act. Let’s look first at the words in The Old Covenant that are translated as ‘sin’, the Hebrew words.

There are several related terms. All of them have a similar meaning. The primary ones are to miss, and to offend. To help understand how the ancient Hebrews considered this one needs to consider how they viewed their relationship with YAHWEH. For them He was seen as The One whom they were to “follow”. They were to follow Him along the “path” He prepared for them, doing what's right in His eyes. This meant they needed to know what He expected of them so they could do what pleased Him.

It turns out that this is the entire focus of The Torah, often referred to as "The Law". They viewed The Torah as their “Instruction Manual”, if you will. It was by means of this that He taught them what He desired.Incidentally, they did not refer to these teachings as “The Ten Commandments”. They referred to them as The Ten Words. They were words of instruction. They were not demands from a “stern parent”.

 If they did as He instructed them they were considered to be “on the path”. If they failed in this they “missed the path”, wandered off, and got “lost”. This is the foundation for the entire concept of sin. It's a failure to follow the instructions of YAHWEH, by which one may please Him - thus doing right in His eyes. If you get nothing else from this article please let this concept get engrained in your thinking. Let’s repeat it: To sin is to fail to follow YAHWEH’s teaching and instruction. 

When we do that we “offend” Him. That offense is rebellion against YAHWEH! We openly defy His teaching. When that happens we become guilty of offending Him.

That failure is ultimately based on one thing - SELFISHNESS! That’s right, selfishness. Essentially, it’s you choosing to put your values and desires before YAHWEH’s desires! When you do that it is offensive to Him. 

He’s The Creator. He’s The Supreme Being - not you! And contrary to what many have been taught, the sin of Lucifer was not pride, it was selfishness. To put it very simply, sin is saying to YAHWEH, I WANT! That, in effect is an outright rejection of what He wants for your life. It was Lucifer’s “I want to be God.” that got him kicked out of Heaven. It was Eve’s, “I want some of that tree, so I can be wise.” that got her, and Adam, kicked out of The Garden of Eden.

Whenever you in effect say to YAHWEH “I want…” instead of “What do You want…..” you are committing a sin, an offense against His will. Selfishness is sin!

Now that you have a basic sense of what sin really is, here are the Hebrew terms involved. Look these over carefully, and then proceed to the rest of the article. There are some important things yet to come.

2398. aDfDj chata}, khaw-taw´; a primitive root; properly, to miss; hence (figuratively and generally) to sin; by inference, to forfeit, lack, expiate, repent, (causatively) lead astray, condemn:
         —bear the blame, cleanse, commit (sin), by fault, harm he hath done, loss, miss, (make) offend(-er), offer for sin, purge,
            purify (self), make reconciliation, (cause, make) sin(-ful, -ness), trespass.

2399. aVfEj chet}, khate; from 2398; a crime or its penalty:
          —fault, x grievously, offence, (punishment of) sin.

2400. aÚDfAj chatta}, khat-taw´; intensively from 2398; a criminal, or one accounted guilty:
         —offender, sinful, sinner.

2401. hDaDfSj chata}ah, khat-aw-aw´; feminine of 2399; an offence, or a sacrifice for it:
          —sin (offering).

2402. hDaÚDfAj chatta}ah, khat-taw-aw´; (Aramaic) corresponding to 2401; an offence, and the penalty or sacrifice for it:
          —sin (offering).

2403. hDaÚDfAj chatta}ah, khat-taw-aw´; or taÚDfAj chattacçth, khat-tawth´; from 2398; an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness),
          and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation; also (concretely) an offender:
         —punishment (of sin), purifying(-fication for sin), sin(-ner, offering).

Now that you have a basic understanding of the terms used we need to look at some other dimensions of the concept of sin. We need to understand the meaning of original sin, and the sin nature, since these terms come up often in discussions about sin. 

We’ll start with original sin.
It’s not what you think it is.
And, it’s tied directly to
the sin nature (also known as ‘human nature’).

Most likely you know at least a little bit about the sin of Eve (Chavvah) in The Garden of Eden. The Elohim (God) had instructed Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad. Adam was left to instruct Eve concerning this. But she failed to honor this instruction (all the dialog about how she ended up doing whatever she did is really irrelevant for our purposes here). In doing so she rebelled against both The Word of The Elohim, and the word of Adam.

We now understand that any such rebellion, refusal to follow the instructions we’re given, results in an “offense”.
That offense is called “sin”.

We’ve “worn out” the word ‘sin’ through it abundant usage. It’s so common place that we have little appreciation for what it actually means. Unfortunately, it’s tossed about a bit too freely, and with little real understanding of it. We also fail to comprehend what the identified penalty was for this rebellion - death. The matter is that serious!

Now we get to the somewhat complicated part, original sin. The first “sin” was Eve’s rebellion. But we also know that Adam was given some of the fruit from the same tree - and he ate it, also having been given the instructions by The Elohim not to do so. He, therefore, also became guilty of rebellion, sin.

Now you have two human beings who have sinned against (offended) The Elohim. They're living in a state of “sinfulness”. They’ve lost their “innocence” and become guilty of offending YAHWEH, The Elohim. They now deserve to die. It’s the stated consequence for refusing to follow The Elohim’s instructions. Their very “nature has been altered. Remember, they were created in the image of The Elohim, like Him. They had His nature, His divine nature. (Traditionally referred to as “The Holy Spirit”.)

But after their rebellion they are no longer innocent. They know the difference between good and bad. And, they're now living in a "state of sin”, carrying their guilt along with them before The Elohim. This is what is understood as “The Sin Nature”. They are “sinful” human beings. Their very essence has been altered. And there is no going back to what they had or what they were beforehand.

They have “originated” the “sin nature”. They’re the first ones to have this. There are no children yet. However, the potential for children exists "within the loins of Adam”. It is the male who carries “the seed”, not the female. Once these two begin to have children, in their sinful state, they pass on their “sin nature” to every one of their offspring. By being in Adam’s loins at the time of his sin this “seed” became subject to the sin nature that Adam incurred through his actions. This is considered to be "original sin”. It’s not the act of a person, it’s their “sin nature” that constitutes original sin. There are other places in Scripture where this concept of passing something along to unborn offspring is presented, confirming this concept.

It’s very important to understand this, and it’s a bit difficult to grasp because we’ve not been taught these vital principles. We tend to think that we're doomed to die because of something we have done. But the truth is, we’re condemned to die because of what Adam and Even did. The sin nature has nothing to do with our own actions. Every person since Adam and Eve has a sin nature. We’re not including The Messiah here because His birth was unique. It was not like ours. He did not have a sin nature as we do. A discussion of His unique circumstances will have to wait for another article.

Now we need to address some other issues concerning sin. We've been guaranteed death because of our sin nature. It’s why we all die. But there's also the issue of our own actions in relation to YAHWEH’s instructions to us, His Word. When we fail to follow His instructions to us we also become guilty of open rebellion against Him. Prior to that we are seen by him as being ignorant, uninformed. We don’t know any better.

As long as we don’t know any better He is willing to overlook our offenses. We don’t understand we're offending Him. In essence, it’s as if no one has told us. And this might in fact be literally true. He is compassionate and kind and will not hold us “guilty” for what someone else does. We’re still condemned to die because of our sin nature. But we’re not condemned to face the consequences of our personal actions since we're ignorant of what’s expected.

You inherently know this. You don’t hold your own kids, brother, sisters, parents, neighbors, etc. responsible for something they did in a state of innocence. Neither does YAHWEH. Yet when you've been taught what He desires, and when you've agreed with Him that you will do what He has taught you then you’ve entered into a contract with Him, a Covenant. From that moment on He expects you to be personally responsible for what you do. He will hold you accountable at some point in time for those actions, good and bad. To rebel against Him at this point is to personally sin against (offend) Him. That action He can pardon, but there are certain conditions that must be met before that pardon is granted.

The consequence of the sin nature is death. The consequences for our personal refusal to do what He has instructed us to do, following our commitment to do what He teaches us, is judgment for our guilt of offending Him - personally. The consequence for those actions is also death. He cannot tolerate rebellion in His presence. It’s what got Lucifer thrown out of The Heaven. And ultimately it is the act of selfishness, putting my desires in front of His desires, doing what I want, instead of what He wants.

In the end, we face the death sentence on two separate counts. However, dying with a sin nature by itself does not place us under judgment. We simply cannot live indefinitely in that state. Something has to change. But let’s be realistic about all this. Do you really think there’s a human being that has ever lived, other than The Messiah Himself, who has never willfully done what they understood they should not do? There may be two, but beyond that it’s extremely doubtful.

This leaves us with the dilemma of what can be done to avoid the consequences of our sin. That’s really an entirely separate subject with many different facets to it. But the short take is that YAHUSHUA, The Messiah has paid a very costly “ransom” on our behalf. He has allowed Himself to be put to death in our place! We are guilty. We are condemned to die because of our guilt, our failure to follow YAHWEH’s instructions. Yet He, in effect, said, “I’ll pay the price of death for you!” And He did just that! He paid the price required, death, so we don’t have to pay it - in the eternal sense. We may die physically, but we don’t have to die eternally.

So what’s the catch? It’s very simple, really. Trust YAHWEH’s Word! Believe that He did what He said He would do, provide a way out for us from our sin nature and our sin-debt. What’s required is complete and unwavering trust in His promises to us - and a heart that’s willing to acknowledge that we have indeed offended Him. That’s all! 

Once we acknowledge our rebellion ("confess our sin") and ask Him to pardon our offenses because YAHUSHUA has already paid the penalty for us He will indeed “forgive our sin-debt” AND grant us a new nature, a divine nature

Do you want to know more? Go read the account of Passover. Or, send an email with your questions.

NOTE These pages are a "work in progress". They're updated fairly often as new information or insights are provided that require a change in what's presented. Please check back regularly to see what may have changed since your last visit. Scripture verses used on the site are from Scripture For Seekers (see the Home Page)They're not always presented on these pages in exactly the same format as they occur in the text due to space considerations but the text is the same. Every book is now available in PDF format. Download or print your own copy today.  Or, go to and obtain your own copy of Accordance. Then follow the instructions on the Home page to download an electronic version of Scripture for Seekers, S4S from The Accordance Exchange.
Personal use is free, but these are not to be used for any commercial purpose. Please contact the site owner if you have an interest in commercial usage.

May YAHWEH speak to your heart and bless you with understanding as you explore His Word.