xamination's picture
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Question for theists - is sin in the action, or is sin in the heart?

Or in other words, is killing someone or stealing or giving false testimony a sin if one is ignorant of the sin, or it is done for a good reason i.e. stealing food to feed your starving family? 

I hope that when the world comes to an end I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.

LosingStreak06's picture
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An evangeligal preacher

An evangeligal preacher once tried to explain his views on "sin" to me. He told me that there are two meanings to "sin." For simplicity's sake, he called one the "Capital S" sin, and one the "lower-case s" sin. Sin (the capital kind), he told me, is a condition which we are born into. The sins (lower-case) which we commit are a result of this Sin, which is like a flaw passed on from Adam and Eve. Jesus' purpose, he continued, was not to forgive us of our sins, but to absolve us of our Sin.

To be honest, I never really got the whole thing (it would have been less confusing, I think, if he hadn't insisted on calling them both "sin" ) but it sounded like an interesting little piece of theology.

As for me, well, my God doesn't believe in sin. So I get off scot-free on this one.

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I think the answer lies

I think the answer lies mostly with the heart.  In Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus said:

27"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'[e]28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Basically what Jesus is saying is that anyone who even intends to commit adultry, whether succeed or not, has sinned.  This than can be expanded to include all sins.  Intent to commit any sin is the same as doing it in the eyes of God.

Many people try and cite "good intentions" as a way to excuse the things they do, like theft for instance.  Say a person steals a loaf of bread from a store so they can eat.  The problem is that if they continue to steal (to feed themselves or loved one) pretty soon it becomes a habit.  Habits have a way of getting worse, so next they're stealing money, or things to sell for money, all with the promise they'll use it on food.  By now they've lost the original "good intention" and are stealing for a living.  God can see into the heart of man and knows his/her intentions and can judge accordingly.

As far as ignorance of sin is concerned, I'm not sure.  I would think it hard to hold someone accountable for their actions if they truely didn't know what they did was wrong.