Why Do We Sin?
Since the beginning of time, mankind has sinned. This can seem obvious. The answer to the question “Why do we sin?” is not so obvious but very important.
Human sin goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. Since the first human beings rejected God and committed sin, all of mankind has given in to “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).
The power of sin in our lives is sometimes difficult to comprehend. The fact that it has overpowered every human being to have existed—with the exception of Jesus Christ—is overwhelming evidence of that power. The fact that sin has this power that will result in our death (Romans 6:23) also boggles the mind.
Why is sin so powerful? What is it about sin that makes most people continue to yield to it?
The sin of ignorance
One of the reasons we sin is ignorance. This might not seem like too big of a factor in today’s world, with the Internet and globalization allowing us to share information almost as fast as we receive it. Yet in a world of 7 billion people, how many know the basic doctrines of Christianity? Polls show that most cannot even list the four Gospels!
It can be easy to sin in ignorance—all we have to do is not be aware of what sin is. Hebrews 9:7 refers to “the people’s sins committed in ignorance” (emphasis added). Not all sin is intentional.
Peter mentioned this while addressing the early Christian Church about their returning to sin “as in your ignorance” (1 Peter 1:14). The only way to conquer sins of ignorance is to overcome the ignorance. We can do that by reading the Bible to identify what sin is. We have to diligently study the Bible daily in order to know what sin is and how to avoid it (Acts 17:11).
There is still another factor to this ignorance that we see in the world. In Revelation 12:9 we read of a fallen angel or spirit known as Satan the devil, who has managed to deceive the entire world! This deception has kept countless people in ignorance throughout human history.
There are other reasons we sin besides ignorance and deception. We also sin because we don’t stop to think. We commit sins such as “outbursts of wrath” (2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20) because we don’t stop to consider their negative consequences.
The same can be said for our words. Many of our sins come from our mouth. We often speak before we take the time to think. The Bible tells us that the tongue is one of the hardest things to control in life (James 3:2-8). Often we’ll say something before we take the time to evaluate whether or not we should be saying it—or what effect it will have on other people and ourselves. In order to avoid sins like this, we need to simply make it a habit to think before we speak.
Sins of priorities
A frightening number of sins, however, are planned. Sometimes people even know that they are sinning as they act. Why would anybody do that? Why would we knowingly sin? Do we perhaps not care enough?
We can think of it as a matter of priorities. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Christ answered, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37).
God’s law itself shows we should put God first and foremost in every aspect of our lives. If we do not do this, our lives follow the path of sin, or lawlessness (1 John 3:4). If we were to steal, we would be putting whatever we stole ahead of God. The same goes for every other sin that man commits.
The more we love God and truly put Him first in our lives, the less inclined we will be to sin. It’s a matter of priorities.
Why reject sin?
So why should we avoid sin? The first reason we should not sin is because we understand that sin leads to death, while righteousness (not sinning) leads to blessings and eternal life. All mankind has already earned the death penalty; but Jesus Christ, by shedding His blood to pay for our sins, has made it possible for us to have a fresh start.
There always seem to be reasons that some human beings insist on continuing to sin, but we have a much greater reason not to sin!
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