Mark 7:20-23
Galatians 5:19-21

These passages both feature lists of sin. Paul writes in Galatians 5:19 that, “the works of the flesh (sinful nature) are evident,” meaning we usually know when we mess up, but it still helps to have a list.

In Mark’s list, Jesus tells us where sin comes from. It’s easy to blame others, society, our upbringing or even Satan but the truth is we all do evil because it’s in us. Sin is in our hearts, our very nature, which is why we can’t overcome it on our own.

Accepting that we sin because we are sinful is an essential starting point if we want to get the sin out.

Write in your Field Guide:

  • Who or what have you blamed your sin on in the past? 
  • Why is it important to see our sin as as a heart problem?

Now that we know where sin comes from, let’s look at our hearts in the sin list of Galatians 5:19-21. The goal is to understand our sin, not feel guilty!

Sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality:

The first three sins listed have to do with sex. Almost all of the lists of sin in the bible begin with sexual sin. Sexual sin is pervasive and extremely damaging to our souls.

  • Sexual immorality is any sex outside of biblical marriage.
  • Impurity is the things that lead to immorality like lustful thoughts and fantasies, pornography, and masturbation.
  • Sensuality is tempting others to indulge in impurity.

The bible doesn’t have any subjects that are off limits or taboo. If it’s a part of our human experience then the bible addresses it. That’s one of the reasons the bible is trustworthy as God’s word!

Idolatry and sorcery:

  • Idolatry is more than just worshipping a statue of a god. It’s worshipping anything that isn’t the true God. We often have many idols: other people, jobs, money, pleasure, and ourselves can all become objects of worship. If you read the Old Testament you quickly see that idols don’t last long because God loves us with a righteous jealousy.
  • Sorcery isn’t casting spells but it is artificially altering our reality through thoughts or substances. Horoscopes, the occult, praying to saints as well as unnecessary/illegal drug use fall under this Greek word which is the word we get pharmacy from. God wants to be the only reality altering entity in our lives.

Enmity, Strife, Jealousy, Fits of Anger, Rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy:

So much of our sinfulness is relational. All of these speak to ways that we sin against other people.

  • Enmity is hatred, a lack of love. God is love and that means working away from hatred in all of our relationships.
  • Strife is consistently not getting along with others.
  • Jealousy is possessiveness and selfishness.
  • Fits of Anger are outbursts like road rage or yelling.
  • Rivalries speaks to wanting to win at whatever cost. Caring about ourselves more than others.
  • Dissensions and Divisions are forms of being disagreeable, winning others to your side and being prejudiced.
  • Envy is wanting what other people have.

Drunkenness and Orgies:

  • Drunkenness is forbidden for Christians. Drinking alcohol is ok but we must set good boundaries for ourselves. People who struggle with addiction or alcoholism should abstain.
  • Orgies are not just sexual in nature. Any wild party or place where sin is exalted would fit this Greek word and even just attending such an event would be a sin.

And The Like…

You might be exhausted from reading through these sins and thinking about your life but this list is by no means exhaustive! It seems like there are infinite ways that we’ve figured out how to sin – good thing our forgiveness is infinite too.

James 4:17 tells us that when we know we should do good but we don’t do it, we sin. That pretty much covers the rest.

If this isn’t enough of a look into sin for you, 2 Timothy 3:1-5 gives us a description of the sinfulness of the last days that seems to describe the hearts of most people today who don’t have God in their lives.

Before you move on, take time to write about your sinfulness as prompted in your Field Guide. (Yay! Fun!) Okay, It’s not fun, but it’s so important to understand the depths of our sinfulness so we can understand the heights of God’s grace. There’s a box to fill in. Unfortunately, if we’re honest about our sinfulness we could fill much more than a box. But that box is a good start, so go ahead and work through the descriptions above, taking notes on how you’ve sinned. Pay special attention to any sin that you are still currently struggling with.

You’ll use this list for a conversation with your bible study partner that will be filled with grace and truth!