Sin is a term used mainly in a religious context to describe an act that violates a moral rule, or the state of having committed such a violation. Commonly, the moral code of conduct is decreed by a divine entity (such as Yahweh or Allah in the Abrahamic religions).
Sin is often used to mean an action that is prohibited or considered wrong; in some religions (notably some sects of Christianity), sin can refer to a state of mind rather than a specific action. Colloquially, any thought, word, or act considered immoral, shameful, harmful, or alienating might be termed "sinful".
Common ideas surrounding sin in various religions include:
The Greek word hamartia (ἁμαρτία) is usually translated as sin in the New Testament. In Classical Greek, it means "to miss the mark" or "to miss the target" which was also used in Old English archery. In Koine Greek, which was spoken in the time of the New Testament, however, this translation is not adequate.
Vipaka, the result of your Karma, may create low quality living, hardships, destruction and all means of disharmony in life and it may also create healthy living, easiness, and harmony in life. Good deeds produce good results while bad deeds produce bad results. Karma and Vipaka are your own action and result.
Pañcasīla (Pāli) is the fundamental code of Buddhist ethics, willingly undertaken by lay followers of Gautama Buddha. It is a basic understanding of the Noble Eightfold Path, which is a Buddhist teaching on ways to stop suffering.
The generic Hebrew word for any kind of sin is avera (literally: transgression). Based on verses in the Hebrew Bible, Judaism describes three levels of sin. There are three categories of a person who commits an avera. The first one is someone who does an avera intentionally, or "B'mezid." This is the most serious category. The second is one who did an avera by accident. This is called "B'shogeg," and while the person is still responsible for their action it is considered less serious. The third category is someone who is a "Tinok Shenishba", which is a person who was raised in an environment that was assimilated or non-Jewish, and is not aware of the proper Jewish laws, or halacha. This person is not held accountable for his or her actions.
Judaism holds that no human being is perfect, and all people have sinned many times. However, certain states of sin (i.e. avon or cheit) do not condemn a person to damnation; only one or two truly grievous sins lead to anything approaching the standard conception of hell. The scriptural and rabbinic conception of God is that of a creator who tempers justice with mercy. Based on the views of Rabbeinu Tam in the Babylonian Talmud (tractate Rosh HaShanah 17b), God is said to have thirteen attributes of mercy:
A classical rabbinic work, Midrash Avot de Rabbi Natan, states:
One time, when Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai was walking in Jerusalem with Rabbi Yehoshua, they arrived at where the Temple in Jerusalem now stood in ruins. "Woe to us" cried Rabbi Yehoshua, "for this house where atonement was made for Israel's sins now lies in ruins!" Answered Rabban Yochanan, "We have another, equally important source of atonement, the practice of gemilut hasadim (loving kindness), as it is stated 'I desire loving kindness and not sacrifice'.
The Babylonian Talmud teaches that "Rabbi Yochanan and Rabbi Eleazar both explain that as long as the Temple stood, the altar atoned for Israel, but now, one's table atones [when the poor are invited as guests]." (Tractate Berachot, 55a.)
The traditional liturgy of the Days of Awe (the High Holy Days; i.e. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) states that prayer, repentance and tzedakah (charitable actions) are ways to repent for sin. In Judaism, sins committed against people (rather than against God or in the heart) must first be corrected and put right to the best of a person's ability; a sin which has not also been put right as best as possible cannot truly be said to be repented.
A number of animal sacrifices were prescribed in the Torah (five books of Moses) to make atonement: a sin-offering for sins, and a guilt offering for religious trespasses. The significance of animal sacrifice is not expanded on at length in the Torah, though Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17 suggest that blood and vitality were linked. It should be noted that modern conservative Jews and Christians argue that the Jews never believed that the aim of all sacrifice is to pay the debt for sins - only the sin-offering and the guilt offering had this purpose; modern scholars of early Jewish history, however, often disagree and argue that this division came later. Later Biblical prophets occasionally make statements to the effect that the hearts of the people were more important than their sacrifices - "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams" (I Samuel 15:22); "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6); "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart" (Psalm 51:17) (see also Isaiah 1:11, Psalm 40:6-8).
Although the animal sacrifices were prescribed for atonement, there is no place where the Hebrew Bible says that animal sacrifice is the only means of atonement. Hebrew Bible teaches that it is possible to return to God through repentance and prayer alone. For example, in the books of Jonah and Esther, both Jews and gentiles repented, prayed to God and were forgiven for their sins, without having offered any sacrifices. Additionally, in modern times, most Jews do not even consider animal sacrifices. On the High Holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur - also known as the Day of Atonement-, and the ten-day period between these holidays, repentance of sins committed is based on specialized prayers and hymns, while some Jews continue the ancient methods of sacrifice. An example of a common method of "sacrificing" for the sake of repentance is simply to drop bread into a body of water, to signify the passing of sins and the hope for one to be written into the Book of Life by God once again. This is especially emphasized on what is arguably the holiest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur.
Repentance in itself is also a means of atonement (See Ezekiel 33:11, 33:19, Jeremiah 36:3, etc.) The Hebrew word for repentance is teshuvah which literally means to "return (to God)." The prophet Hosea (14:3) said, "Take with you words, and return to God." Judaism teaches that our personal relationship with God allows us to turn directly to Him at any time, as Malachi 3:7 says, "Return to Me and I shall return to you," and Ezekiel 18:27, "When the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he has committed, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive." Additionally, God is extremely compassionate and forgiving as is indicated in Daniel 9:18, "We do not present our supplications before You because of our righteousness, but because of Your abundant mercy."
Note that modern Judaism's views on sin and atonement are not identical to those in the Hebrew Bible alone, but rather are based on the laws of the Bible as seen through the Jewish oral law.
In Western Christianity, sin is viewed as a legal infraction or contract violation, and so salvation tends to be viewed in legal terms, similar to Jewish thinking. In Eastern Christianity, sin is viewed in terms of its effects on relationships, both among people and between people and God. The Bible portrays sin as not following God's moral guidance, based on the account of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis. They disobeyed God by eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which gave them the ability to judge and know good from evil for themselves. Thus, the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree—which God had commanded them not to do—sinful death was born; it was act of disobedience, thinking they could become like gods, that was the sin. However, because Eve was deceived, while Adam was not, it is usually believed that Adam held the greatest responsibility for the evil that took place, for which reason the Fall of man is referred to as the "sin of Adam". This sin caused Adam and his lineage to lose access to the Tree of Life and their years of life to be numbered. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (). In Christian theology, the death of Jesus on the cross is the atonement to the sin of Adam. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." ().
The Greek word in the New Testament that is translated in English as "sin" is hamartia, which literally means missing the target. 1 John 3:4 states: "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness". Jesus clarified the law by defining its foundation: "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." ()
"All the Law" could refer to the Ten Commandments in Exodus that God demands of those that follow Him. In Christianity, salvation is viewed in terms of reconciliation and a genuine relationship with Christ. In Romans it says, "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ our Lord". Both Eastern and Western Christians agree, on the basis of Scripture, that sin serves as a barrier to one having a complete relationship with God. But in the Gospel of John it states "For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." This verse is a common base of Christianity (see article on 16). Some Christian denominations believe that salvation is not obtained through good works but faith alone accompanied by obedience to the laws of their religion. These Christians believe that humanity falls short of the 'perfect glory' of God because of sins (imperfections), but the sacrifice of the messiah Jesus provides the potential for redemption (Romans ). See also Biblical law in Christianity.
Mortal sins are sins of grave (serious) matter, where the sinner is fully aware that the act (or omission) is both a sin and a grave matter, and performs the act (or omission) with fully deliberate consent. The act of committing a mortal sin cuts off the sinner from God's grace; it is in itself a rejection of God. If left un-reconciled, mortal sins result in eternal punishment in Hell.
Venial sins are sins which do not meet the conditions for mortal sins. The act of committing a venial sin does not cut off the sinner from God's grace, as the sinner has not rejected God. However, venial sins do injure the relationship between the sinner and God, and as such, must be reconciled to God, either through the sacrament of reconciliation or receiving the Eucharist.
Both mortal and venial sins have a dual nature of punishment. They incur both guilt for the sin, yielding eternal punishment, and temporal punishment for the sin. Reconciliation is an act of God's mercy, and addresses the guilt and eternal punishment for sin. Purgatory and indulgences address the temporal punishment for sin, and exercise of God's justice.
Roman Catholic doctrine also sees sin as being twofold: Sin is, at once, any evil or immoral action which infracts God's law and the inevitable consequences, the state of being that comes about by committing the sinful action. Sin can and does alienate a person both from God and the community. Hence, the Catholic Church's insistence on reconciliation with both God and the Church itself.
The Roman Catholic view of sin has recently expanded. Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, Regent of the Catholic Apostolic Penitentiary, has said that "known sins increasingly manifest themselves as behavior that damages society as a whole," including, for example:
Mortal sins, which are any severe and intentional actions that directly disobey God, are often confused with the seven deadly sins, which are pride, envy, lust, anger, greed, sloth and gluttony. They are not, however, the same.
Sin is differentiated from the relativistic, individualized transgressions of moral standards pure human rationale dictates, by secular humanism, by its immutability and everlasting nature. Sin never changes, but popular notion does. Hence, sin will always be sin, regardless of epoch.
Religions other than Roman Catholicism view the concept of sin as a wandering from the path to enlightenment, and this also applies to Roman Catholicism, with the addition that God is a Person, and is unchanging; The Father by which everything in three dimensional reality is defined. What is contrary to the Will of God is sin.
Humankind is the only thing that can sin because free will is required, and with the exception of humans, everything in the Universe perfectly obeys the Will of God. The predictability of all things created belies the nature of all things as being ordered according to time, measure, and weight; as recorded in The Holy Bible. Relative physics adopted this view of the Universe and refers to the second, meter, and kilogram as the foundation of all three dimensional reality.
In the grand scheme of everything, from beginning to end, God's Will must be done. By this measure sin can be viewed as the wraith of primordial guilt, or original sin.
The term sin is only applicable to competent individuals past the age of reason. If a person doesn't know something is contrary to the Will of God they cannot be held accountable for sin until such time comes that the individual understands that particular sin is wrong.
This doesn't always happen during the temporal, physical, organic life of the physical body. In this instance the person will be illuminated after death, at which point the soul will be aware of exactly what sins they are guilty of. Atonement for sin cannot be made after the physical death of the human organism, and thus the soul of the unrepentant sinner is in an impossible predicament of final annihilation from existence.
However, God is not bound by time, and if a person was ever forgiven, they were always forgiven. And such is the nature of all Roman Catholics to pray for the departed soul, who didn't understand sin while physical life was in his/her flesh.
Roman Catholic Doctrine dictates Jesus Christ alone can forgive sin, although sin need only be forgiven if one desires immortality in everlasting paradise.
This is in contrast to the Catholic teaching that while sin has tarnished the original goodness of humanity prior to the Fall, it has not entirely extinguished that goodness, or at least the potential for goodness, allowing humans to reach towards God to share in the Redemption which Jesus Christ won for them. Some non-Catholic or Orthodox groups hold similar views.
There is dispute about where sin originated. Some who interpret the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28 as a symbol for Satan believe sin originated when Satan coveted the position that rightfully belongs to God. The origin of individual sins is discussed in James 1:14-15 - "14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."(NIV)
The Eastern Catholic Churches, which derive their theology and spirituality from same sources as the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox, do not use the Latin Catholic distinction between Mortal and Venial sin. However, like the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Catholic Churches do make a distinction between sins that are serious enough to bar one from Holy Communion (and must be confessed before receiving once again) and those which are not sufficiently serious to do so. In this respect, the Eastern Tradition is similar to the Western, but the Eastern Churches do not consider death in such a state to automatically mean damnation to Hell.
Christian theologians have presented different interpretations of atonement:
The ideas of these and other Christian theologians can be summed up under these rubrics:
"Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and rejoice, for no one's good deeds will put him in Paradise." The Companions asked, "Not even you O Messenger of Allah?" He replied, "Not even me unless Allah bestows His pardon and mercy on me".
In Islam, there are several gradations of sin:
It is believed that Iblis (Satan) has a significant role in tempting humankind towards sin. Thus, Islamic theology identifies and warns of an external enemy of humankind who leads humankind towards sin (, etc.) The Qur'an in several verses (, ) states the details of the Iblis’s temptation of Adam and in (Qur'an ) states that the Iblis’s pattern of temptation of man is the same as that of Adam, i.e. Allah decrees a law for man but instead man obeys his own base desires and does not guard himself against the allurements of his enemy. Iblis deceives human being with vain hopes whereby he is led astray and fate helps him in that respect. Thus he transgresses some of the limits set for him by Allah and disobeys some of Allah's commandments. He therefore becomes justifiably liable to Allah's judgement and afflictions. But as proposed in the Qur'anic version of the story of Adam, man can turn towards Allah by the words inspired by Allah after being failed in Allah's test, because He is Oft-Returning and Most Merciful (Qur'an ).
Muslims believe that Allah is angered by sin and punishes some sinners with the fires of جهنم jahannam (Hell), but that He is also ar-rahman (the Merciful) and al-ghaffar (the Oft-Forgiving). It is believed that the جهنم jahannam fire has purification functionality and that after purification, an individual who has been condemned to enter جهنم jahannam is eligible to go to جنّة jannah(the Garden), if he "had an atom's worth of faith". Some Qur'anic commentaries such as Allameh Tabatabaei , state that the fire is nothing but a transformed form of the human’s sin itself:
Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a Fire into their own bodies: They will soon be enduring a Blazing Fire!
Those who conceal Allah's revelations in the Book, and purchase for them a miserable profit - they swallow into themselves naught but Fire...
In Islam there are opposing views that if a person commits a sin, he will be out of Islam.
Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped.
Verily! Allah Accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and repent soon afterwards, to them Allah will turn in Mercy, for Allah is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom. And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil, until death faces one of them and he says "now have I repented indeed", nor of those who die rejecting faith: for them have we prepared a chastisement most grievous.
Islam does not accept any blood sacrifice for sin. The Islamic understanding of forgiveness is that it is made on the basis of divine grace and repentance. According to Islam, no sacrifice can add to divine grace nor replace the necessity of repentance. In the Islamic theology, the animal sacrifices or blood are not directly linked to atonement (Qur'an : "It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah. it is your piety that reaches Him..."). On the other hand, the sacrifice is done to help the poor, and in remembrance of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son at God's command. (The son is not named in the Qur'an and in early Islam, there was a fierce controversy over the identity of the son. However, the belief that it was Ishmael prevailed later.)
Prayer and good deeds can also be atonements for sins (Qur'an ). The Islamic Law, Sharia specifies the atonement of any particular sin. Depending on the sin, the atonement can range from repentance and compensation of the sin if possible, feeding the poor, freeing slaves to even stoning to death or cutting hands.
Some of the major sins are held to be legally punishable in an Islamic state (for example, murder, theft, adultery, and in some views apostasy; see sharia). Most are left to Allah to punish (for example, backbiting, hypocrisy arrogance, filial disrespect, lying).
Also, it is said that for every good deed that is done, 10 bad ones (sins) will be taken off.
According to Sahih Bukhari there are seven al-Kaba'ir (major sins) according to this tradition: >
"Avoid the seven noxious things"- and after having said this, the prophet (saw) mentioned them: "associating anything with Allah; magic (Equivalent to Witchcraft and Sorcery in English); killing one whom Allah has declared inviolate without a just case, consuming the property of an orphan, devouring usury, turning back when the army advances, and slandering chaste women who are believers but indiscreet." ,"
'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas said:
Seventy is closer to their number than seven.
Major 70 Sins in Islam
This list is a collection of deeds of varying degrees of offensiveness that have been compiled by religious scholars after Mohammed's time, according to the beliefs of their respective periods. The deeds are interpreted as implied by the canon of the Qur'an.
In the Bahá'í Faith, humans are considered to be naturally good, fundamentally spiritual beings. Human beings were created because of God's immeasurable love for us. However, the Bahá'í teachings compare the human heart to a mirror, which, if turned away from the light of the sun (i.e. God), is incapable of receiving God's love. It is only by turning unto God that the spiritual advancement can be made. In this sense, "sinning" is to follow the inclinations of one's own lower nature, to turn the mirror of one's heart away from God.
One of the main hindrances to spiritual development is the Bahá'í concept of the "insistent self" which is a self-serving inclination within all people. Bahá'ís interpret this to be the true meaning of Satan, often referred to in the Bahá'í Writings as "the Evil One".
Watch over yourselves, for the Evil One is lying in wait, ready to entrap you. Gird yourselves against his wicked devices, and, led by the light of the name of the All-Seeing God, make your escape from the darkness that surroundeth you. — Bahá'u'lláh
This lower nature in humans is symbolized as Satan — the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside. — `Abdu'l-Bahá
The Bahá'í concept of God is both just and merciful. God is seen as being "He Who forgiveth even the most grievous of sins". Bahá'ís are meant to refrain from focussing on the sins of others, and are meant to have a "sin-covering eye". Bahá'ís are also forbidden to confess their sins to others in order to have their sins removed. Forgiveness is between a person and God alone, and is thus a very personal affair.
Should anyone be afflicted by a sin, it behoveth him to repent thereof and return unto his Lord. He, verily, granteth forgiveness unto whomsoever He willeth, and none may question that which it pleaseth Him to ordain. He is, in truth, the Ever-Forgiving, the Almighty, the All-Praised. — Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh taught that one should bring one's self to account each day, and be constantly concerned with self-improvement. Sin is an inevitable stumbling block, but it should not be allowing to halt one's spiritual progress. One should ask for forgiveness from God alone and then try to develop oneself through acquisition of virtues and communion with God (through prayer, fasting, meditation and other spiritual practices). There are many Bahá'í prayers for forgiveness of oneself, one's parents, and even the deceased. The Bahá'í Faith teaches that pardon can be obtained even in the afterlife and that deeds done in the name of the departed or wealth left by the departed for charity can benefit and advance their souls in the afterlife.
The Bahá'í Faith accepts the Biblical teaching that the sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven, in this world or the world to come.
The Prophets of God are manifestations for the lordly perfections - that is, the Holy Spirit is apparent in Them. If a soul remains far from the manifestation, he may yet be awakened; for he did not recognize the manifestation of the divine perfections. But if he loathe the divine perfections themselves - in other words, the Holy Spirit - it is evident that he is like a bat which hates the light. This detestation of the light has no remedy and cannot be forgiven - that is to say, it is impossible for him to come near unto God. This lamp is a lamp because of its light; without the light it would not be a lamp. Now if a soul has an aversion for the light of the lamp, he is, as it were, blind, and cannot comprehend the light; and blindness is the cause of everlasting banishment from God. — `Abdu'l-Bahá
In the end, only God can decide who is forgiven and who is not.
Shaivite guru Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami explains in the lexicon section of his book, Dancing with Siva, that "sin is an intentional transgression of divine law and is not viewed in Hinduism as a crime against God as in Judaeo-Christian religions, but rather as 1) an act against dharma, or moral order and 2) one's own self." Furthermore, he notes that it is thought natural, if unfortunate, that young souls act wrongly, for they are living in nescience, avidya, the darkness of ignorance.
He further mentions that sin in Hinduism is an adharmic course of action which automatically brings negative consequences. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami explains that the term sin carries a double meaning, as do its Sanskrit equivalents: 1) a wrongful act, 2) the negative consequences resulting from a wrongful act. In Sanskrit the wrongful act is known by several terms, including pataka (from pat, "to fall"), pāpa, enas, kilbisha, adharma, anrita and rina (transgress, in the sense of omission).
He comments that the residue of sin is called pāpa, sometimes conceived of as a sticky, astral substance which can be dissolved through penance (prayashchitta), austerity (tapas) and good deeds (sukritya). Note that papa is also accrued through unknowing or unintentional transgressions of dharma, as in the term aparadha (offense, fault, mistake).
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami further notes that in Hinduism, except for Dvaita school of Shri Madhvacharya, there are no such concepts of inherent or mortal sin, according to some theologies, which he defined as sins so grave that they can never be expiated and which cause the soul to be condemned to suffer eternally in hell.
Adapted and cited from lexicon section of his book, Dancing with Siva, with italics to indicate non-quotes.
Virtues in Hinduism: Yamas
Ranks of Ethical practices in Samkhya Hinduism:
"Atheism" is as vague a category as "theism", however: just as there is no universal doctrine of "theism" (apart from the basic assertion that some divine entity or entities exist), there is no universal doctrine of "atheism," and no unified atheistic view on the concept of sin.