20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:20–23, NKJV)
I received an interesting question about sin recently: “Could you explain the difference between the noun sin and the verb sins?” The grammatical answer is a noun identifies the sin (its nature, content, etc.), while the verb describes the active practice of that sin. Covetousness, for instance, is a noun identified as greedy desire to have more. It resides in and springs from the heart, presenting itself in greedy, covetous conduct. For example, when Achan saw the spoils of Jericho he said, “I coveted them and took them” (Joshua 7:20-21). Sin exists in the heart, and it presents itself in our actions. We cannot only think of sin as something practiced. It is also something held in the heart. Jesus confirmed this when He said to look at a woman to lust after her is to commit adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). Lust in the heart is sin, and lust that presents itself in the act of adultery is sin. Whether sin is identified as a noun, or its action is discussed as a verb, its wages is death (Romans 6:23). Salvation from sin, whether “noun” or “verb,” is through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17; Acts 2:37-41).