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:

The statement you refer to is located in a section in the back of the Ryrie Study Bible titled “A Synopsis of Bible Doctrine.” There are six sections to the doctrinal summary. The second section contains the statement that “Sin Is An Illusion.”

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.[1]

This section appears to be a combination of different views about sin.  The first statement seems to be the opinion of those without a biblical understanding of sin. It is in error.

The next statement  (B) about sin seems to imply that God is affected by sin but we are. That is the dualism that is referred to. Item C is not a definition of sin and is therefore in error. However it describes a symptom of sin. Item D is actually a biblical definition of the sin. 1 John 3:4 states that sin is lawlessness. It may be that Section D in the Ryrie Bible is a violation of the Ten Commandments of The Law.

The last statement (E) is true since it is all inclusive. The Ryrie Study Bible does not summarize the doctrines in the other sections the same way. Under the other topics, they present only true statements. Here, they changed their presentation style. The change is confusing and could result in some believing error.


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.



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