#1 In the old covenant sin was breaking the laws that God gave.
Romans 5:13 says, "Sin is not charged when there is no law" & Romans 4:15 says, "Where there is no law there is no transgression/sin." Jesus ended the law at the cross (Colossians 2:14, Ephesians 2:15). God no longer charges anyone with sin (2 Corinthians 5:19). This type of charged or imputed sin is gone. Christ took sin away, along with the law, when He died on the cross.
#2 Sin is a condition that causes unloving actions.
The condition of sin exists in the spirit for non-Christians, their spirit is dead (separated from knowing God). For Christians God has made their spirit alive and it no longer has the condition of sin. The born again spirit of a Christian does not have the sin condition (1 John 3:9,5:18). The condition of sin remains for all mankind in the flesh (physical body & mind) therefore Christians can still behave unlovingly (Romans 7:17). Christians know God and have the option to "live by the spirit" by "putting their mind on the spirit." Doing so becomes easier if you allow God to "renew your mind" with His love and His truth.
#3 Sin is an unloving action
This sin is partially dependent upon who is counting. God will never charge Christians with sin because He identifies them by the spirit and not by the flesh. Scripture uses the term sin to refer to something harmful we do to another human being, a Christian can sin against another person (only through the flesh) but cannot sin against God alone. Sinning against (harming) another Christian is considered as acting unlovingly toward Jesus (1 Corinthians 8:12, Acts 9:4).
Non-Christians aren't charged with sin by God in this life but He "stores up wrath" for them based on their actions if they ultimately reject Jesus. He releases this wrath at judgment.
You can count sins against yourself or others (James 4:12,17) but doing so doesn't cause God to count sins, it only affects how we live and treat others. Christians do not need to count their own sins or be conscious of "is this sin or is that sin?" (Hebrews 10:1-2). They also don't need to count sin against other people. God does not do this and they should follow His example for the benefit of everyone.
Summary of What Sin is Today
- For everyone sin is a condition in the body and mind which causes unloving actions.
- For non-Christians sin is a spiritual condition that prevents them from having a relationship with God. It is easily cured by trusting in Jesus.
- For the Christian sin does not exist apart from the body & mind. God never charges them with it & their spirit cannot produce it because it is born in pure holiness in the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:24).
- For everyone sin is an optional label you can put on unloving actions to hold those actions against yourself or others. Sin is an unnecessary label for actions unless:
- You are recognizing what Jesus took for you on the cross.
- You are pointing a non-Christian to the fact that they have the spiritual condition of sin so they will come to trust Jesus for the cure.
- You are trying to make a Christian aware of their harmful behavior towards other people so that they will walk by the spirit and not by the flesh.