Your Sin Is Not What You Think

John Piper | May 18, 2016


The human heart hates a vacuum. We never merely leave God because we value him little; we always exchange God for what we value more.

We see this in Romans 1:22–23: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.” They became fools. This is the ultimate foolishness. This is the most foundational meaning of sin: exchanging the glory of the immortal God for substitutes—anything we value more than God. We look at the Creator and then exchange him for something he created.

My Definition of Sin

Underneath all the misuses of money, sex, and power is this sinful heart-condition—this depravity. My definition of sin is this: any feeling or thought or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all other things. The bottom of sin, the root of all sins, is such a heart—a heart that prefers anything above God; a heart that doesn’t treasure God over everything else, and everyone else.

Sin is the deepest, strongest, and most pervasive problem in the human race. In fact, once Paul has made clear the essence or root of sin (Rom. 1–3), he goes on to make clear in the…


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