In two different Bible studies in different settings that I have led in the last month, the question has been asked, “How do I know what is wrong?” – as in morally wrong. In one case, the inquirer was an atheist, and in the other case, the question came from a life-long church attendee of various churches that never encouraged substantial study of the Bible. It is a wonderful question – especially since it flowed from genuine, personal interest as we studied God’s word.
The succinct answer of Westminster Shorter Catechism question and answer 14 helps greatly in such discussions. It asks and answers, “What is sin?” “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” The context of our Bible study called for the language to be modernized, and it was – sin is not doing what God commands or doing what he forbids (James 4:17 & Leviticus 5:17).
“But how would I know what those things are?” came one reply. Where in the Bible do we find guidance so that we will know what we ought to do – or when we need to ask forgiveness? Sin is of course more than simply doing the wrong […]