Bible Question:

The Ryrie Study Bible under sin, states that sin among other things is an illusion. My pastor can't explain this for me.

Bible Answer:

I assume the statement you are referring to is shown below:

II. The Definition of Sin

A. Sin Is An Illusion. This idea has taken a variety of forms of expression; e.g., our lack of knowledge is the reason we have the illusion of sin; or when evolution has had time to help us progress further, sin will disappear.

B. Sin Is that Eternal Principle of Dualism, outside of God and independent of Him.

C. Sin Is Selfishness. This is the most frequently heard definition of sin. It is scriptural but inadequate.

D. Sin Is a Violation of the Law. This too is scriptural but inadequate, unless the concept of law is expanded to include the character of God Himself.

E. Sin Is Anything Contrary to the Character of God.

Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, Chicago. 1986, p. 1770.

This is an unfortunate statement. In fact the next two statements about sin (B and C) under “The Definition of Sin” are also false statements. Only the last two statements (D and E) are true. The Ryrie Study Bible does not use this approach in the other sections. Under the other topics, they present only true statements. Here, they changed their presentation style – so at first it is not clear what they regard as truth.


The Ryrie Study Bible simply presented some popular ideas about sin before they presented the truth. The Biblical truth is given when the outline reaches the letters “D and E.” How does the Bible define sin?

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (NIV) 1 John 3:4

Genesis 2:16-17 is the first passage in scripture that reveals what sin really is. God warned Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree and when they did they became sinners. So sin is breaking God’s laws.