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Christianity. Theology. Apologetics. Philosophy. Literature. Politics. Science. Culture.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Definition of 'Sin'

What is sin? This was the question posed by young collegian John Wesley in a letter addressed to his mother. Wesley’s goal was to get a clear, cut-and-dried formula for what comprised "sin." After all, such technical definitions are easy to get around; stretched and bent for the allowance of things that our consciences (except when mollified by sinful rationalization) could never justify.

Wesley woefully underestimated his mother. The response given by this wise and godly woman was far different from what he expected... And it changed his life:

“Would you judge of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of pleasure, of the innocence or malignity of actions? Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind; that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.”