Anything not in harmony with, hence contrary to, God’s personality, standards, ways, and will; anything marring one’s relationship with God. It may be in word (Job 2:10; Ps 39:1), in deed (doing wrong acts [Le 20:20; 2Co 12:21] or failing to do what should be done [Nu 9:13; Jas 4:17]), or in mind or heart attitude (Pr 21:4; compare also Ro 3:9-18; 2Pe 2:12-15). Lack of faith in God is a major sin, showing, as it does, distrust of him or lack of confidence in his ability to perform. (Heb 3:12, 13, 18, 19) A consideration of the use of the original-language terms and examples associated with them illustrates this.
The common Hebrew term translated “sin” is chat·taʼthʹ; in Greek the usual word is ha·mar·tiʹa. In both languages the verb forms (Heb., cha·taʼʹ; Gr., ha·mar·taʹno) mean “miss,” in the sense of missing or not reaching a goal, way, mark, or right point. At Judges 20:16 cha·taʼʹ is used, with a negative, to describe the Benjamites who were ‘slingers of stones to a hairbreadth and would not miss.’ Greek writers often used ha·mar·taʹno with regard to a spearman missing his target. Both of these words were used to mean missing or failing to reach not merely physical objects or goals (Job 5:24) but also moral or intellectual goals or marks. Proverbs 8:35, 36 says the one finding godly wisdom finds life, but the ‘one missing [from Heb., cha·taʼʹ] wisdom is doing violence to his soul,’ leading to death. In the Scriptures both the Hebrew and Greek terms refer mainly to sinning on the part of God’s intelligent creatures, their missing the mark with regard to their Creator.