13. Sin is self-centeredness.

Every person who practices sin commits an act of rebellion, and sin is rebellion. {1 John 3:4}

At its heart, sin is an attitude of rebellion, a way of thinking that considers first what is in the best interests of self and then determines to act accordingly, no matter what. It does not willingly submit to any authority or surrender itself to another. It distrusts the motives and agendas of others, so it places supreme trust only in itself. It is the opposite of love, which does not think or act in the interest of self.

A person who is infected with this rebellious attitude always thinks of himself first, putting his own interests above the interest of others. He acts to promote, advance, or bolster his own chosen agenda, often at the expense of others. He does not trust God to do what is best for him, believing (sometimes only subconsciously) that he knows the best course of action or the best outcome for any given situation. He refuses to submit to God’s wisdom and God’s timing and often seeks to work out God’s plan in his own way and in his own time. His primary goal is to take care of his own needs, no matter who or what he damages along the way.

This obsession with self-seeking, self-interest, and self-exaltation is the fundamental problem with sin. It is a denial of creatureliness, a refusal to submit to God’s authority and an unwillingness to accept the things God offers. Instead, it is an attempt to be our own kind of god, answering to no one else, doing only what we think is right.

If you have a hard time seeing what could be wrong with that, read the book of Judges. It’s an account of the absolute worst era in Israel’s history, characterized by the most awful acts of inhumanity, violence, and injustice. And through it all, this mantra is woven through: At that time in Israel, every person did what was right in their own eyes.

If you want to dig deeper—
Genesis 4:3-5
Exodus 9:27-28, 34-35
Ecclesiastes 7:20
Romans 3:23
Romans 14:23
Philippians 2:3-8
James 4:17