"Sin is any lack of conformity, active or passive, to the moral law of God. This may be a matter of act, of thought, or of inner disposition or state."^[1]^ The theological term for the study if sin is hamartiology from the Greek hamartia for sin, error, or missing the mark. The Apostle Paul used the verb hamartano when he wrote, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

R.C. Sproul writes,

"In the least transgression I set myself above the authority of God, doing insult to His majesty, His holiness,and His sovereign right to govern me. Sin is a revolutionary act in which the sinner seeks to depose God from His throne. Sin is a presumption of supreme arrogance in that the creature vaunts his own wisdom above that of the Creator, challenges divine omnipotence with human impotence, and seeks to usurp the rightful authority of the cosmic Lord."^[2]^


Original languages

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Degrees and categories

Protestantism, writes R.C. Sproul, "rejected the Roman Catholic scheme of mortal and venial sin."^[3]^ Rather than rejecting degrees and gradations of sin, however, it maintained them. Sproul explains:

"Calvin, for example, argued that all sin is mortal in the sense that it rightly deserves death, but that no sin is mortal in the sense that it destroys justifying grace. Considerations other than the degrees of sin were in review in the Protestant rejection of the mortal and venial sin distinction. Historic Protestantism retained the distinction between ordinary sins and sins that are deemed gross and heinous. "The most obvious reason for the Protestant retention of degrees of sin is that the Bible abounds with such gradations. The Old Testament law had clear distinctions and provisions of penalty for different levels of criminal acts. Some sins were punishable by death, others by corporal penalties, and still others by the levying of fines. In the Jewish criminal system, distinctions were made between types of murder that would correspond to modern-day distinctions such as first- and second-degree murder, and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter." _This is a section stub. Please edit it to add information._


  1. Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 578.
  2. R.C. Sproul. Ethics and the Christian [1989], p. 20
  3. R.C. Sproul. Ethics and the Christian [1989], p. 21

See also