The first things, which comes to mind when talking about sin, are the ten commands in Exodus. They are a list of affairs that people must avoid. The Old Testimony presents these commands as dictated by God Himself although they can easily be found in many older sources.
Such persons as Gregory the Great defined in 500th century the seven mortal sins. Thomas the Aquinas continued this work in 1200th century.
The lists of sins have focus on human activities, but no list can show us the actual basis for the idea of sin.
We can search roots of sins by studying the Genesis and comparing it to the basic ideas in The New Testimony.
The Christian idea of the original sin means in principle being separated from God, the absence of divine nature in human beings. The Genesis symbolizes this resulting from the fall of Adam via an apple picked by Eve from a wrong tree.
This story is but an allegory of a change in the consciousness of humanity from a direct inner to an indirect outer one. Time and space had emerged before that, forming all not-divine things with which a human being could later on identify himself. The first division from the divine unity had already happened in the creation of Eve.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil (not that of eternal life) symbolizes the birth or formation of conditional consciousness, which leans to the field of contrary ideas and polarities. This is the reason that people are no longer able to recognize anything in their original invariable essence.
In principle, we could define sin very easily: it means identifying with outer phenomenon and oneself (as a separate being). All concrete lists of sins come from human need to create order in their daily social life.
It is much more difficult to apply the idea of sin in human life. The New Testimony gives some ideas in encouraging searching the Kingdom of Heaven by forgetting oneself, bearing one’s cross, and following the giving instructions in one’s daily life.
To achieve “the master degree in humanity” one should be able to drop all one’s identifications with transient phenomenon of life in order that something eternal could turn out in one’s inner or inmost being.
The requirement for poverty in spirit in the Sermon on the Mount presupposes inner liberation out of all outer things and selfishness. Becoming like a child means a complete lack of all kinds of bonds to temporal things and affairs. That requires the kind of wisdom, which comes directly from above, where there is, according to James,”no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
The Sermon also gives the shortest possible definition of sin: “Be perfect!” Smith Hoeggman propably denotes to this kind of interpretation when saying to Paavo Ruotsalainen: “One thing is missing from you and in that thing all – the inner knowledge of Christ!” Apostle Paul said that the followers should put Christ on themselves.
If we try to define sin according to concrete actions, we will impinge on the fact that many wrong doings might in time cause good results. People may get the opportunity to face their faults and start correcting them.
The Creek term for sin is hamartia, which means an attempt to hit a target. Attempts are often failing, which need not to prevent from trying again, for “grace is new every morning.”
Master Eckhart stated that one should not even repent his mortal sins, if those were in some respect leading him to the birth of the Son of God in the inmost part of the soul – for this, means a complete liberation from sin and death.