Most of us simply list sins instead of define “sin”. At best, we might say “breaking God’s laws”, but this is still misses the main problem with sin...to not mature past a child’s thinking towards a more mature Biblical understanding.
Simply put, we suggest the following definition of “sin”. Sin is valuing of anything else above God. This simple definition actually has far reaching ramifications. But first, we need to defend the definition. Romans 1 is the clearest. Romans 1:23, 25, 28 speaks our “exchanging” the glory and truth of God for created things. This is the fundamental problem of the universe; all other Scriptural descriptions of “sin” fall under this basic idea. “Whatever is not done by faith is sin” (Romans 14:23), yet faith believes that God rewards those who seeks him and that He is able to do what he has promised (Hebrew 11:1, 6; Romans 4:20-21). Given that we are commanded to do everything to the glory of God, including eating and drinking, (1 Cor. 10:31), then all sin is “falling short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)—again, not showing the worth of God above all other things. What we value is always evidence by our lives.
This means that we stops asking “Is this or that a sin?” This misses the point and shows us that we are not thinking of the worth of God but the worth of our self-interest. Also, sin is not merely about law-breaking and guilt; it’s also about the honor of God and how we have publically shamed him before the world. Sin is like publically spitting in our father’s face. Romans 2:23-24 is chillingly clear, “You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Notice that law-breaking is the MEANS, not the ultimate problem—the worth (glory) of God is ultimately at stake.
This should cause us great angst as we realize our “list” of sins just expanded. Worshipping God is feeling, thinking, and doing anything that shows the worth of God. How many things do we do, think, or FEEL that do not reflect His infinite worth. What a joy to define sin as it is that we may see our desperate condition, confess sin, and call out to the God of Mercy to transform our hearts more and more like Christ’s!!