Freed to live through the death of another.

That Is Sin

Have you ever experienced an uneasy conscience? It’s not guilty, because you’re not sure you sinned, but it’s also not clear, because you’re not sure that you haven’t sinned. It’s just uneasy.

Have you ever tried to identify sin in your life so as to confess it to God or to others? Have you ever wondered if a specific action is something that needs to be repented of or whether it is acceptable?

Have you ever tried to lovingly challenge someone on something that seems awry in their life, but haven’t been able to put your finger on what the problem really is?

I’m convinced that a lot of time when we lack clarity in our conversations and prayers regarding sin, it is because we are not labouring to think in biblical categories. Several years ago, someone challenged me to try to keep my conversations about sin tied to biblical words. That way we can speak of sin as sin… and if something is not sin, then we must deal with it in the realm of preference or simply freedom.

To see what the New Testament calls ‘sin’, check out the following passages. These are some of what are commonly referred to as the ‘sin lists’ of the New Testament.

Mark 7:21-22; Romans 13:8-14; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:25-31; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5-9; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 9:20-21; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 21:27

I find it helpful to classify the various sins under the headings of ‘Heart’, ‘Mouth’, and ‘Body’. Interestingly enough, when the NT authors speak of sin they are most often speaking about your heart, even before your words or your actions.

Heart Sins Mouth Sins Body Sins
Evil thoughts Deceit / lying Sexual immorality
Coveting / Jealousy Slander Theft
Wickedness Quarreling Murder
Sensuality Strife Adultery
Envy / greed Dissensions Orgies
Pride / arrogance Divisions Drunkenness
Foolishness Reviling Sorcery
Impurity Foolish talk Fits of anger
Idolatry Corrupting talk Swindling
Enmity Crude joking / obscene talk Homosexuality
Rivalries Without self-control Abusive behaviour
Grudges Brutality
Bitterness / wrath Without self-control
Worldly passion
Evil desire
Loving self
Loving money
Not loving good
Loving pleasure, not God
Disobedient to parents
Being unappeasable
Being treacherous
Being reckless
Worship of demons & idols
Being cowardly
Being faithless
Without self-control

So my suggestion is this: get to know the sins on the list so you can watch for them in your own life. Use these words to confess your sin to God and to others. Use these sin lists to help ease or act upon the movements of your conscience. And use sin words in your conversations with others so that you can serve them by helping them to think in more biblical categories as well.


  1. Liz@Warrior Wives

    I so appreciate this. When we refer to problems in our life as "issues" or maybe even just use psychological terms, we can convince ourselves that the Bible has nothing to say about them. However, if we think biblically, and name things for what they are – sin – then we acknowledge the authority that God's word has over us. Thank you for that wonderful chart!

  2. Jeannette

    This is profound. This exercise should make us both less censorious and less indulgent concerning sin. Both are needed in the battle.

  3. Meg

    I really appreciate this article. I think it could be well-used in pastoral/biblical counseling relationships! Thank you for writing it!

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