Bad Apple: Part 1: Sin’s Definition

Bad Apple: Part 1: Sin’s Definition

Bad Apple: Sin Defined 


  • Youtube video went viral depicting 68-year-old bus monitor named Karen being bullied by several teenagers who, for ten straight minutes, hurled insults at this widowed grandmother.
    • Four students from New York curse, threaten, and deride this elderly lady calling her old, poor, fat, and a troll.
    • One teen told her that the didn’t have any family because they killed themselves so as not to be near her.
  • In October of this past year, we witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in America when a man opened fire on innocent concert goers in Las Vegas.
    • The terror of Hurricane Harvey ravaged the south, doing untold damage to so many.
    • Not to be outdone, uncontrollable wildfires broke out in California and massive mudslides swept through the southern half of the state.
  • See all these terrible things—but at the same time, we see really good things: capable, respectful young people volunteering their time to help with clean up efforts; the millions of dollars donated to help those ravaged by natural disaster; the beauty of a regular day.
    • See all of these wonderful things, but also terrible realities, and realize something isn’t right—there’s a bad apple in the bunch.
    • Saying backed up by science: as apples rot, they emit gasses, which if kept near other apples, will spoil the rest.
  • There’s a bad apple in the world spoiling and ruining everything good, and the Bible has a name for it: sin.
    • Used to be much more common to hear this word among professing Christians—but isn’t always the case.
    • Unfortunate because its an essential part of understanding the story of the Bible—in fact, its why there is a story in the first place.
    • Sin establishes the plotline for the story of the Bible: it is the reason Jesus comes—but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
  • If we live in the world long enough we begin to realize that the bad apple of sin isn’t just spoiling others, its spoiling me.
      • Truth: sin is our greatest problem—witness of scripture.
      • If that is the case, then I believe as Christians we are obligated to know what sin is, how it works, where it originates from, how to identify it, how to combat it, etc.
    • In order to do that starting a series: “Bad Apple: How Sin Spoils Everything.”


  • Defining Biblical words important—especially during a time when many have forgotten their meaning. How does the Bible define describe sin?
    • Lawlessness (1 John 3:4)
      • Sin is a breaking of the law. But who’s?
        • Sin is a breaking of God’s law.
        • Goes back to the very beginning of the story (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:1-3, 11).
      • The important part to understanding sin: at its heart sin is an act of war of God’s truth, justice, and holiness.
        • It is stepping outside of God’s boundaries in rejection of his will.
        • Not only against him personally as creator, but against his creation.
        • This is why David’s cry in Psalm 51:4 is “Against you, and you only, have I sinned and done this great evil in your sight.”
      • What this means is that, if sin is going to be fixed, God has to play a part in it—its his law thats been broken.
    • Missing the Mark (Rom. 3:23)
      • The word for sin here has the idea of “missing the mark”—like shooting an arrow at a target and missing the bullseye.
          • As we see in scripture God has given us a mark: his glory and excellence (Gen. 1:26-27).
            • The word the Greeks used to describe a tool that was fulfilling its absolute purpose was virtue.
            • When humans are fulfilling the purpose for which they are made, they are virtuous beings.
            • Yet breaks us and uses us for things we never were intended for—we miss the mark of God’s purpose for us.
        • Humanity is a testament to the fact that, not only have we missed the bullseye, we’ve missed the entire target.
          • We fail and we fail often; “To err is human.”
          • We recognize that even in our best efforts at the smallest tasks we mess up.
          • Can’t possibly hope to save ourselves and hit the target on our own.
    • Idolatry (1 Cor. 10:6-7)
      • While we often consider idolatry its own particular sin, as we read in scripture, sin seems to be defined as idolatry.
          • John Calvin: “Man’s heart is an idol-making factory.”
          • In fact, the beginning of the story shows us that humanity wanted to reject God’s reign and usurp God’s throne (Gen. 3:4-6).
        • Sin wants to dethrone God in your life and rule there (Gen. 4:7; Rom. 6:12; John 8:34).
        • What we will discover is that our battle with sin is a struggle for who reigns as Lord and master in your life.
    • So this is sin: a lawbreaking lifestyle which causes me to miss the mark of God’s glory and enslaves me to a cruel master.
    • Yet, what relevance does this have for us in the 21st century? Is it worth doing an entire study on sin?


  • Sin seems like such an archaic word—out of place and forgotten in the modern world; yet as mentioned earlier, something isn’t right.
    • “First, only thirteen years have elapsed since we closed out the bloodiest century in human history. There was not just one holocaust: add to the Nazi slaughter of Jews the Stalinist starvation of twenty million Ukrainians, the Maoist slaughter of perhaps fifty million Chinese, the massacre of between a quarter and a third of the population of Cambodia, tribal slaughter of Tutsis and Hutus, and various ethnic cleansings. How shall we calculate the damage, material and psychological, of terrorism in all its forms, of unrestrained consumerism, of all the damage done by drug abuse of many kinds, including alcoholism? The digital revolution that ushers in spectacular improvements in research, data handling, and communication also brings us access to instant porn, with untold damage done to man/ woman relationships in general and to marriages in particular. Shall we add the cruelty of racism, the exploitation of the weak, and greed and laziness in all their forms?  And what of those massive and ubiquitous sins that are primarily the absence of particular virtues—unholiness, impiety, prayerlessness, unloving hearts, ingratitude? Despite the massive evidence that surrounds us on every side, many in our generation have come to think of themselves as essentially good people. Pollyannaish outlooks abound. If there are bad things in the world, they are primarily what other people do—other religions, other races, other political parties, other generations, other economic sectors, other subcultures. Doubtless, every generation thinks of itself as better than it actually is, but in the Western world this generation has multiplied such moral blindness to the highest degree.”—D.A. Carson
      • When we take a moment to look around we realize that sin isn’t some cute word Christians use to label lifestyles they disagree with; it isn’t a weird bible word kept tight in stuffy old church buildings; it isn’t a philosophical exercise—it is a visceral reality, a present wickedness, that we witness on a daily basis, a darkness that overshadows all that is good, and pleasant, and happy in the world—it is, without a doubt, our greatest threat. 
      • Something isn’t right. We have failed in a significant way. We are enslaved. And we can’t do anything about it.
  • But here’s the message of scripture: God can, and God has.
    • Sin has spoiled, but the story of scripture is that God saves.
    • Throughout this study, we will see what God reveals about sin, its nature, and how we can overcome through Jesus Christ.


  • Maybe you are sitting here this morning and before this lesson, you didn’t even know what sin was much less a definition.
    • May not have the words, but you know it when you see it.
    • You see things in others, in yourself, that you know are wrong and you wondering how they can be made right.
  • The message of scripture, as we will discuss in a later lesson, is that sin has serious consequences; not only in this life but for eternity.
      • One day, you will answer to the Lord for the things you have done (2 Cor. 5:10-11); the Lord will judge you.
      • Without Christ there is only one sentencing: eternally enduring the wrath of God in the second death, in a place called Hell.
    • But, as we mentioned, it doesn’t have to be this way—sin spoils but God saves.


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