One of the things I pray daily is that the Lord will send His light and truth to lead me; to remove all spiritual blindness, deafness and hardness of heart; to grant me conviction of sin with godly sorry to repentance and deliverance from captivity, so that I will be free in His grace and mercy. Today this led me to seek God’s definition of sin, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We must understand our sinful condition in order to be truly thankful for the saving work of Jesus, who by His grace and mercy, by our faith in Him, has given us eternal hope in Him.

John Piper says that “Sinning is any feeling or thought or speech or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all other things”. Why did “the desires of their hearts run to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies” (Rom. 1:24)? “Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” (Rom. 1:25) The impurities of active sinning have a root. And the root is this: Sin hates the truth of God, suppresses it, and exchanges it for what sin loves and worships. Sin loves to worship and serve the creature not the Creator. That’s the root of sinning.

He gives the progression: Romans 1:18, we suppress the truth about God. Romans 1:21, we don’t glorify Him or thank Him. Romans 1:23, we exchange His glory for images. Romans 1:25, we exchange the truth about God for a lie. We worship — we stand in awe of what God made, not God. Romans 1:28, we disapprove of having the true God in our knowledge. We prefer others things and other persons more than God; He is not our supreme treasure. We have come short of this: knowing, cherishing, prizing, loving, treasuring God above all things. That is the essence of our sinful condition and that is the root of all sinful action.

The literal definition of the word “sin” is to miss the mark. Sin is more than disobedience to God’s commandments, which He gave to express His character. We were created in God’s image (Gen 1:27), and we are to allow His glory to shine through us. The glory of God is when the invisible qualities of God are made visible. When we are obedient to God’s Word we are accurately portraying His character and image. When we fail to glorify God and His character (Is. 43:7), (what we are to aim for), we sin. In essence, we sin when we conceal rather than reveal the image of God.

Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is at the heart of Christianity. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). The statement has three parts—salvation, grace, and faith—and they are equally important.

The word salvation is defined as “the act of being delivered, redeemed, or rescued.” Without God’s grace and mercy our sin separates us from God; sin destines each person to eternal separation from Him in hell. We need salvation from sin and its penalty. Sorrow over sin alone will not save us from sin. The road to hell, as the saying goes, is paved with good intentions. We may fill our lives with good works, but we need something more powerful, and this is where grace comes in.

The grace of God is His undeserved favor bestowed on those He has called to salvation through His love (Ephesians 2:4–5). It is His grace that saves us from sin. We are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Being justified, we are vindicated and determined to be sinless in the eyes of God. Our sin no longer separates us from Him and no longer sentences us to hell. Grace is not earned by any effort on our part; otherwise, it could not be called grace. Grace is free.

The method God chose to bestow His grace upon us is through faith. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Salvation is obtained by faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in what He has done—specifically, His death on the cross and His resurrection. He bestows saving faith and saving grace upon us in order to redeem us from sin and deliver us from its consequences.

And when we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior by faith, we are created to be new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17), where we have the power to turn away from sin and to glorify God. By God’s power and the authority He has given us in Christ, we can bind the devil’s lies and live and walk in God’s truth, and treasure Him above all. Go boldly to the Lord’s throne of grace and ask Him to examine your heart, and show you where you aren’t living in His truth. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) Through Him, we can cast down every lofty argument (lie of the devil), and take our thoughts captive in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).