Bible Question:

What is the root cause of all sin?

Bible Answer:

The Bible describes many different types of sins. Romans 1:29-31 lists the following as sins,

. . . being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful . . . Romans 1:29-31 (NASB)

Galatians 5:19-21 also gives us another long list of sins.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB)

But what is the cause of all sin? What follows is an explanation of the first sin and the root cause of that sin.

What Is The Root Cause of All Sin?

Origin of The First Sin

The first sin in the invisible world was the sin of Satan. Ezekiel 28:12 begins a description of the power behind the throne of the king of Tyre. In verse 13 we are told the power was in the garden of Eden. This reveals that the descriptions are not about the king of Tyre and the passage is not addressed to the king of Tyre since the Garden of Eden was destroyed in Noah’s flood. Verse 14 tells us the power behind the throne was a cherubim, an angel, and he was in heaven, “the holy mountain of God.” Verses 16-17 tell us that this angel sinned and describes its sin for us.

And you sinned;
Therefore I have cast you as profane
From the mountain of God.
And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub,
From the midst of the stones of fire.
Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.
Ezekiel 28:16-17 (NASB)

What was the angel’s sin? If it is not clear, Isaiah 14:13-14 helps us by giving us another description of the sin.

But you said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
Isaiah 14:13-14 (NASB)

Satan’s sin was pride! The angel was in love with itself and wanted to be like God. Ezekiel 28:17 says, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty” It was impressed with itself. and wanted to be a god. This angel was and is Satan, the devil or the serpent in Genesis 3 (Revelation 12:9).

The Sin of Eve

But both Ezekiel 28:16 and Isaiah 14:12 tell us that Satan was cast out of heaven.  Genesis 3:1 tells us that this angel appears in the Garden of Eden as a snake (Revelation 12:9). The serpent tempts Eve to eat of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” It tempts Eve to eat by promising she would be like God if she did so. That was Satan’s great desire. He apparently hoped that the same desire that caused him to sin might work on her, and he was correct.

For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and  you will be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:5-6 (NASB)

It worked! She sinned! What was her sin? Her sin was pride! It was her pride that turned her from believing and trusting God. She wanted to eat and so she did. She did not obey God!

The Root Problem

What was the common sin of Satan and Eve? The common sin was pride. Both were self-centered. What is the root cause of all sin? Pride or self-love is the root cause of all sin. Why is pride the root of all sin? Proverbs 13:10 says that strife or contention is rooted in pride. Isaiah 30:1 tells us that we sin by rejecting God’s will and doing our own will. We sin because we seek our desire. That is the ultimate definition of pride.

“Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the LORD,
“Who execute a plan, but not Mine,
And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit,
In order to add sin to sin . . .”
Isaiah 30:1 (NASB)

The list of sins in Romans 1:29-31 and Galatians 5:19-21 are motivated by pride or self-love. What our self wants is what we seek! What we want comes first. That is why we do not trust God. That is why we do not submit to God.

It is important to notice that faith in God is required for salvation. Faith in God is the opposite of faith in what we can accomplish. Pride believes it can do everything better and best. Pride does not trust God. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)

Romans 4:4-6 says that if we try to work for our salvation then God will owe us a reward, which means we will not be given the gift of salvation because salvation cannot be earned. Instead we must simply believe.

Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness . . . Romans 4:4-6 (NASB)

Also notice that the first and foremost commandment is that we must love God more than ourselves.

And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38 (NASB)

The root cause of all sin is our pride. God calls us to deny ourselves. It starts at salvation (Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8-9) and the true Christian will continue to deny self (Matthew 10:37; 16:24; Romans 8:13-14; 1 John 2:3-5).


In summary, 1 Corinthians 16:22 gives us a serious warning that we must love Christ or we are cursed.

If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha. 1 Corinthians 16:22 (NASB)

If Christ has our hearts, He also has our obedience!