What is Sin?

Foundations of Faith, Day 4

A Youversion devotional

Think back to a decision you made recently that didn’t honor God. Maybe in the moment, the choice felt fun, or maybe you didn’t know how to say “no.” Maybe you just felt stuck or tired, and you didn’t see any alternative. We’ve all done things that weigh us down and make us wonder, “Why do I seem to do what I know is wrong?”

The world encourages us to “follow our hearts,” but our feelings can easily trick us into doing things that don’t align with God’s will.

In Scripture, sin is often used to describe actions that miss the target God has asked us to aim for: living a life centered around loving God and others. While there are universal actions that dishonor God, small acts of disobedience also pull us away from Him. The apostle James wrote that “it is a sin to know what the right thing to do is, and then not do it.”

In other words, if you know what God is asking you to do, yet you still decide to disobey Him—then you’re undermining God’s authority in your life. Sin entices us because it is self-gratifying, but it results in eternal separation from God and others.

How do we change?

Jesus’ voluntary sacrifice and separation from God led to our reconciliation with Him. None of this is because we deserved it, but because God always desired it. God wants to help us change because He knew we couldn’t overcome sin on our own.

So if you don’t know Jesus, the first step you can take to overcome sin is to invite Him to transform your life.

But if you already belong to Jesus—He has given you the grace, strength, and forgiveness you need to live a life that honors Him. So when you make choices you later regret, here are three practical action steps you can take:

1. Keep drawing near to God every day.

The more time you spend with God, the more you will want to honor Him and do His will. Over time, God will transform your mind and change the way you think.

2. Get connected to community.

The people who surround you will influence the choices you make. Consider asking some people you know and admire to draw near to God with you.

3. Ask God to search your heart.

We can only change when we allow God to change us. Consider praying the following prayer each day, and ask God to transform you:


I don’t want to take part in bad habits or poor decisions that don’t lead to an abundant life. So please search me, and know my heart. Test my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Renew my mind so that I can know what Your will is, and walk in it. Here I am, Lord. I surrender—I am Yours.

In Jesus’ name,

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all mankind, because all sinned— for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not counted against anyone when there is no law.

Romans 5:12‭-‬13

For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

Romans 7:18‭-‬19

So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin.

James 4:17

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1‭-‬2

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8‭-‬9

Search me, God, and know my heart; Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalms 139:23‭-‬24

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