What is Sinful? – A Christian Response

Dear friends,

I want to clear up some misconceptions and to encourage Christians to be prepared to answer the question, “what is sinful.” Below are my prayerfully thought out conclusions.

Sin is any action, attitude, thought, or words (whether spoken or written) that misses the perfect holy mark set by God.

Sin then is defined by God, not man.

Phil Robertson could not decide what is sinful any more than a three-year-old could.

Still Christians get asked, “What do you consider sinful?”

And Christians fall into the trap because we forget that we don’t consider sin, God does…

So what should a Christian say when asked what is sinful?

what is sinful

First it is important to define sin. A simple definition is the one I gave earlier:

Sin is any action, attitude, thought, or words (whether spoken or written) that misses the perfect holy mark set by God.

It is important to emphasize that Christians don’t define sin, God does.

Second confess that we are all sinners. The problem with naming a particular action as sinful is that folks will bow up and say, “So you are saying I am going to hell for <insert sinful activity here>?” And just like Adam and Eve, myself, and  all of humanity they hide behind their personal fig leaves of pride or works or anything that paints themselves not sinful. I still try to justify my sin even when I know I have done wrong. How much more will someone who does not acknowledge God’s sovereignty?

Third if you feel inclined to name sinful actions begin with those that you struggle with the most. Name pride, gossip, gluttony, idolatry, pornography, or whatever besetting sin you are struggling with first. Because all sin – no matter how socially acceptable or easily hidden – earns us death. So when we name sin we must acknowledge that we are chief of sinners. We are dying in our own sin and the only victory there is over sin is through faith in Jesus Christ.

Fourth always remember to share the grace of God. Yes sin earns us death. Yes all of us, we are sinners. Oh, but God didn’t leave us to die. No God showed His great love for us by dying on the cross that we may be saved from the penalty of our sin. It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. And it is important that grace, kindness, and speaking the truth in love mark our words as we share God’s truth with others.



A wretched woman and stumbling child of God who longs to make much of her King.

May we all find healing, peace, and life through faith in Christ and an intimate abiding relationship in God.