"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
According to this verse, what is sin? Sin is anything that falls short of God's glory. We were made to glorify God; failure to do this (and we have all failed) is sin. Sin is any attitude, behavior, or lack thereof which fails to bring glory to God. Sin is the margin between God and us. Since sin is the difference between God and us, understanding the difference between how God responds, acts, and thinks and how we respond, act, and think is vital; knowing God is our critical mission. Sin is falling short of His perfection; this truth makes God the standard by which all behavior, all thinking, and all action must be rightly judged. Sin is not truly recognizable, or discernable, without a clear view of Him. He is the eternal contrast by which we see ourselves. He is the only standard of righteousness. James describes sin as independence from God and the stubborn refusal to do what is right. "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins." (James 4:17) John describes sin as all wrongdoing. "All wrongdoing is sin." (1John 5:17) Paul says that sin is living without trust and dependence upon God, "...and everything that does not come from faith is sin." (Romans 14:23)
Since we Christians have been forgiven of sin and seek to walk with God in righteousness, how should we see sin? Though sin is something to be avoided, overcome, and defeated in our lives, by God's grace, often it isn't. We are prone to fall victim to its seductive power. This happens in many ways. One common error I find in myself is that sin often lurks in my forgetfulness of God. Sin crouches in the tall grass, ever patient, waiting for its prey just beyond the edge of my forgetfulness of God's presence.
Jesus told Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat." (Luke 22:31) Our enemy seeks to separate us from the awareness of God's presence. In so doing we become open and vulnerable to sin's sharp, destructive teeth. We, the object of God's love and grace, become the object of Satan's hunger to shame God. Thus, our greatest need is to repent and once again enjoy fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Since repentance is coming back to an awareness of, fellowship with, and dependence upon God, we can thus measure our repentance by how closely we walk in awareness of Him in our lives. If we are truly repentant, our communion with Him and our dependence upon Him will increase. Every area of independence from God is a dark area, where sin patiently waits for its prey. Second Corinthians 5:15 tells us, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." What areas of your life are you living independent, or forgetful of God? In your behavior, how are you falling short of God's behavior? How should you repent? Remember, repentance is turning from your sin to dependence upon God.