SIN, SINS, AND THE SINNER
I will begin with a very basic foundation concerning the gospel. Yet I hope that in every meeting we will advance a little. In this first meeting, our subject is one which most people do not like to hear about, but one which is unavoidable. Our subject in this meeting is sin, sins, and sinners.
The Bible pays much attention to the matter of sin. Only when we are clear about sin can we understand salvation. If we want to know about the gospel of God and the salvation of God, we must first know what sin is. We must firstly see how sin has affected us and how we have become sinners. Only then will we be clear about what God’s salvation is. We will first consider the ABCs. We need to see what sin is, what sins are, and who is a sinner.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SIN AND SINS
We can easily tell the difference between sin and sins: sin is singular, and sins are plural. However, we need to distinguish between sin and sins. If you cannot differentiate between the two, it will be impossible for you to be clear about your salvation. If someone is not clear about the difference between sin and sins, even if he is saved, his salvation is probably an unclear one. What is sin according to the Bible? What are sins? Let me give a brief definition first. Sin refers to that power within us that motivates us to commit sinful acts. Sins, on the other hand, refer to the particular individual sinful acts that we commit outwardly.
What is sin? I do not like to use terms such as "original sin," "the root of sin," "the source of sin," or the like. These are terms created by theologians and are unnecessary for us now. We will remain simple and consider this matter from our experience. We know that there is something within us that motivates and forces us to have certain spontaneous inclinations; it compels us toward the way of lust and passion. According to the Bible this something is sin (Rom. 7:8, 16-17). But not only is there this sin within us that forces and compels us, there are also the individual sinful acts, the sins, which are committed outwardly. In the Bible sins are related to our conduct, while sin is related to our natural life. Sins are that which are committed by the hands, the feet, the heart, and even the whole body. Paul refers to this when he speaks of the practices of the body (Rom. 8:13). But what is sin? Sin is a law that controls our members (Rom. 7:23). There is something within us that compels us to sin, to commit evil, and this something is sin.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)