“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” – James 4:17
We tend to think of sin as a set list of rules like the Ten Commandments or the 1 Corinthians 6 list, and to a degree that is true. However, sin is not limited to what is listed in scripture and what maybe ok for one can be sin to another if it causes you to disobey God’s will for you.
For example, my husband and I are ministers. We have had opportunities to pastor large churches with big salaries and fancy titles. Which is not a sin in an of it’s self. Yet we know that God has placed us where we are (pastoring a small church with no salary) to minister His truth to His people. So for us it would be sin to leave the place that God has called us to for something we deem granter or more appealing. My father, and grandfather (who were both pastors also) have the same testimony, recognizing that obedience to God is righteousness (or being in right standing with God) and doing what one’s self or flesh wants when you know that it’s not what God wants, is sin. Even if that thing isn’t sin to an other whom God has not spoken to concerning it, it can be sin to you.
A great biblical example of this was the very first sin committed by man. Adam and Eve didn’t kill anyone, they didn’t break the ten commandments in a direct way, they didn’t do anything that would be on our typical “list of sins”. All they did was eat some fruit. We tend to look at the fruit they ate as having some magical power to open their consciousness but it didn’t. It was just a piece of fruit. They had no knowledge of good and evil prior to eating it because, up until this point they had only known good. They had obeyed God sense their creation and this was good therefore, being faithful to the will of God they had only experienced good. They had not experienced the weight, guilt, shame, and conviction of sin, therefor they had no knowledge of evil. The power to open their eyes to the reality of “wrong or evil” was not in the fruit, but rather in their own decision to disobey God. The moment they chose their own will, wants, and desires over God’s, they sinned and that sin was expressed in the act of eating a piece of fruit, something that would not be sin for most of us.
Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened to the understanding of “wrong” the moment they ate the fruit because as soon as they took a bite they knew they had done wrong, they felt it, which was something they had not experienced before. From that moment on they had a knowledge of both good, and evil. They now knew what both felt like. They went somewhere God did not want them to go and did something that God did not want them to do and they knew that He did not want them to but they did it anyway, so to them it was sin.
Therefore, we can simplify that good in all it’s forms is simply obeying God and His will, and evil in all it’s forms is simply choosing self wants over God’s leading. In this we see that sin can go far beyond what is listed in our mind and even in scripture, and what may be good to one may be sin to another. So let us always seek God for His will and walk their in that we not walk boastfully in rebellion, but humbly in obedience.
“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” – James 4:15-17