What is sin?

In Romans 6, we hear these words: “You have been set free from sin.” But what does that mean? Too often, the word “sin” has been understood in legalistic ways, as if sin was about being disobedient to a set of rules or laws. In common usage, it has too often been associated primarily with matters of sexuality.

I suggest that sin is the absence of love. If God is love (as 1 John says), and if sin is separation from God’s presence – a common understanding as well – then is not sin separation from love? Or the absence of love?

If what Paul says in Romans 13 is true – that love does no harm to another – then sin is causing harm rather than loving that person. We cannot truly love someone and sin against that person. When we sin against someone – when we cause harm to them – we are not in that moment acting in love.

To be set free from sin is to live in love, moment by moment, action by action, word by word. Do no harm and act in love, and we have been set free from sin.

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