Jul 05, 2016 by Will Maule

Here Is The BIG Difference Between A Sin And A Mistake

We all sin, and we all make mistakes. But is there a difference between the two? When people refer to sinful behavior as a mistake rather than a sin, they often either consciously or unconsciously evade responsibility - even while they may claim to accept responsibility. "Because of the fundamental difference between the two terms. Many people assume they are synonymous. They’re not," writes Michael Hyatt.

So what is the difference?

"The term “mistake” implies an error in judgment—something done unintentionally," writes Hyatt. This might be 1. Turning onto a one-way street, going the wrong way. 2. Pouring salt into your coffee, thinking it was sugar. 3. Mis-typing a web address and ending up on a porn site.

"These could all be legitimate mistakes. They happen because we get distracted or careless. But a sin is more than a mistake. It’s a deliberate choice to do something you know is wrong," Hyatt explains. We need to acknowledge our mistakes, but we also need to be honest about our sins. Hyatt gives us 5 ways we can honor this distinction. 

1. Choose your words carefully.
Don’t minimize your sin by calling it a mistake. The meaning of the Greek word homologeō—translated confession in 1 John 1:9—as “to speak the same word.” In other words, agree with God. Say the same thing about your sin that He says about it. You can’t be cured of the disease if you continue to deny it.

2. Take responsibility for your behavior.
If you have sinned, own it. (In fact, if you have made a mistake, own that too.) Take the hit. Even if someone provoked you, own your response. If they were 90% responsible, accept 100% responsibility for your 10%. When it comes to sin, there is never a legitimate excuse. None.

3. Acknowledge your guilt.
It is normal to feel guilty when you sin. Guilt is God’s gift, designed to motivate you to initiate reconciliation. The sooner you acknowledge your responsibility, the sooner you can resolve the problem. And never follow your confession with the word “but.” This is the preface to an excuse. It negates everything you have said before.

4. Change your behavior.
Words are cheap. Some people are very adept at saying they are sorry—but then … nothing changes. Repentance is not only a change of mind; it is a change of direction. Unless you change your behavior, you haven’t really repented, no matter how many tears you may have shed.

5. Ask for forgiveness.
You can’t demand it. You are not entitled to it. You can only ask and hope that the person you have sinned against will extend grace. Sometimes, they will wait until you have manifested the fruit of repentance, and that is fine (see Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:19-20).

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