The clearest definition of sin in the New Testament is found in Ephesians.
Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you he made alive, who were once dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others”.
We noted in Part 25 that everyone comes into the world with a nature that is under the judgment of God. We are all children of wrath. This inherent nature is expressed in our daily walk. Our walk is a term describing the usual pattern, direction and character of our lives. Paul in this text says that our walk, our pattern of life, was according to, or in keeping with, the powers that operate in our fallen world.
The world is under the prince of the power of the air, a title of the devil himself. This spirit works in us, sons of disobedience. In our fallen nature there is power that is destructive to us. We are influenced by it at best, and controlled by it at worst, this formidable opposer to God. We are given over to the lusts of our flesh, with no fear of God in our eyes. The spirit has power to work in us because we are fundamentally disobedient sons. All of us have an inbuilt bias to sin, until we allow God to put it to death in us.
Much of our behaviour is because of what we have inherited by birth, but this must not be used as an excuse as we all have committed sin of our own volition.
Our text here describes that, in our un-regenerate state, we all fulfil the lusts of our flesh and of the mind. Not everyone manifests gross sin. Not all have the opportunity to either commit sin, or be protected from sinning; but all of us have a mind and an imagination that may know no limit to the extent of our sinfulness. All of us are capable, given the right circumstances, of any sin.
Paul goes on in his letter to describe the amazing change that happens when we “learn Christ, when we are taught the truth that we have put off the old man, put on the new and are renewed in the spirit of our mind”.
He contrasts the old manner of life, living and walking like everyone else, in darkness, ignorance, blindness, lewdness, greed, and so forth. He says that this behaviour springs from “the old man” in us – the power of sin that yields fruits of sins. There are numerous manifestations of sin, that are called sins in the Bible, but they come from a single source, the nature of sin itself.
“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man, which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness”.