Sin is perhaps the most dominant and reoccurring subject theme throughout the entire Bible. Ironically and perhaps even tragically, it also may be the most difficult doctrine to understand or define. .
Christians and non-Christians alike would probably admit to having at least a surface knowledge of sin. It's almost impossible not to have some familiarity with the subject. We've all seen movies like The Ten Commandments or Jesus of Nazareth. Many Christians have encountered the topic on a much deeper level, either as students in a Sunday school class or as parishioners on the receiving end of a spirited sermon. Nevertheless, I have found most of even the staunchest Christians to possess only a vague and shallow understanding of the topic. Like many things in life, something may initially appear quite simple but ultimately prove to be extremely complex. Take for example a gentle spring breeze. A small breeze certainly seems simplistic at first glance, but try to define it. Is the breeze you feel caused by your own motion pushing you through still air? Is the breeze the effect of something near you moving with such force that it displaces air in a given direction perhaps a car driving past? Or is the breeze a "true" one caused by the earth's rotation is space, thus triggering rapid wind currents that force their way through our atmosphere? Regardless, something seemingly simple has suddenly become more complex when examined closely. .
In the example that was provided there are no consequences for ignorance on the origin of a breeze. Incorrectly defining sin may not necessarily be a problem either. The potential problem occurs when someone is not able to properly identify sin and therefore falls victim to it. We know that all mankind will be judged by their sins (Mt 12:36, Re 6:10). Accordingly, a thorough and complete understanding of sin is vital. .
So then what is sin? I asked this question to many people of differing ages, educational backgrounds, and religious training.