We were all born with a sinful nature. As Apostle Paul explains in Romans 5:12, we are born into sin because sin entered the earth through Adam, the father of all human beings. Following Adam’s sin, man is constantly struggling to avoid sin. Much as we try to do the right thing, the persuasion to do the opposite is overwhelming. This brings us to the 12 sins stated in the Bible, which we’ll discuss in this article.
The Bible does not give an explicit list of 12 sins but they can be inferred from various parts of the scriptures. A good starting point is the Ten Commandments which tell us what God requires of us. The 12 sins in the bible are: lying, greed, gluttony, envy, lust, pride, wrath, sloth (laziness), deceitfulness, theft, vanity, and idolatry.
The 12 Sins and Their Consequences
Humans are warned against partaking in sin because sinfulness has consequences. Believers in Christ have a great advantage over non-believers because they know that even when they fall into sin, they can obtain forgiveness when they confess and repent. Here’s a brief overview of the 12 sins.
Lying takes many forms. As humans, there are those little lies that we tell to escape from a situation or to impress – the so-called white lies. But there are also some deadly lies such as lying to a business partner or cheating on your spouse. The latter category of lies could have dire consequences such as a broken relationship or, for a married couple, divorce. Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things that God hates, including a lying tongue and a false witness who pours out lies.
Greed is the uncontrollable desire for earthly possessions. To get such possessions, however, the greedy person will likely hurt others. Greed is condemned in the bible. In the parable of the rich fool, Luke 12:15, Jesus warns: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
While the consumption of food and drink is essential for human existence, the bible warns against gluttony and excessive overindulgence. Gluttony does not only deplete resources and make people poor; it comes with health risks such as obesity and a host of lifestyle diseases. Says Proverbs 23:20-21.
Do not join those who drink too much wine… gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags”.
Do you desire the possessions of others? That is envy. You could crave your neighbor’s car, home, or spouse. Envy does not necessarily have to be material. You could be envious of a colleague or former schoolmate who seems to succeed in life while you stagnate. Says the tenth commandment:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or hi male servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Sexual intercourse is only meant for a married couple. However, the devil often causes people to lust for sexual intimacy with people they are not married to. Lust is the root cause of adultery which is condemned in many portions of scripture including in the seventh commandment which expressly says: You shall not commit adultery.
Pride is the feeling that you’re better than other people. When a proud man become successful, they attribute their success to their hard work and intelligence and therefore give the impression that the less successful are either lazy or idiotic. Pride makes a person unable to notice the power of God in their success. As Proverbs 16:18 says: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Wrath is the source of unresolvable conflict. The wrathful person expresses uncontrollable hostility and anger towards other people. As a result of wrath, a person could not only lead people to war but also cause the commitment of additional sins. To help us appreciate how big a sin wrath is, Proverbs 29:22 says:
An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.
Hard work is a virtue and sloth, or laziness, is condemned. God discourages laziness and there are very many bible verses against this sin.
In Provers 10:4 we are told: “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent make him rich”.
Proverbs 6:6-11 calls upon the lazy man to look at the ways of the ant “which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest…”. How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
A deceitful person uses dishonest means and trickery to mislead others, usually for material gain. Fraudsters and conmen belong in this category and their ways are condemned. The person who engages in deceit is untrustworthy and Proverbs 12:22 says:
The Lord detests lying lips but delights in people who are trustworthy.
Stealing is addressed in the eighth commandment which says: You shall not steal. Stealing has consequences and, although the thief might be forgiven, they must seek restitution. This is according to Exodus 22: 1-4 which says that “Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution.” additionally, the devil is described as a thief in John 10:10. This means that theft is a work of the devil.
Vanity and pride are related because the vain person focuses on their physical appearance, clothing, and other possessions that make them feel better than other people. Possessions and physical appearance are all vanity as the writer of Ecclesiastes says. Peter advises us that God is more interested in inner beauty and character. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.
The greatest sin that the Israelites committed against God was to worship other gods. God reminds us that He is jealous and, to confirm this, the first commandment says that we should not have “other gods before me”. The second and third commandments also warn against having idols or taking God’s name in vain.
The sins in the bible are meant to show how man has deviated from God’s desired roadmap. As we noted in the introduction, it might be impossible for man to live a sinless life because we are born sinners. Fortunately, for the believer in Christ, there is a way out of sin. Just as sin entered the world through Adam, so has it been removed through the blood of Jesus Christ. Anyone who repents and honestly seeks God’s forgiveness can have their sins forgiven.