Sermon quotes on sin

Mark Batterson

We fixate on sins of commission far too much. We practice holiness by subtraction-don’t do this, don’t do that, and you’re okay. The problem with that is this: you can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right. Righteousness is more than doing nothing wrong-it’s doing something right.

If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities

Frederick Buechner

Of the 7 deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back–in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

Beyond Words

Francis Chan

Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin.


Fyodor Dostoevsky

There is no sin, and there can be no sin on all the earth, which the Lord will not forgive to the truly repentant! Man cannot commit a sin so great as to exhaust the infinite love of God. Can there be a sin which could exceed the love of God?

 The Brothers Karamazov


Benjamin Franklin

Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.

Benjamin Franklin

Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.

Julian of Norwich

But Jesus spoke to me all that I needed to understand, and here is what he said, “Sin has a part to play in my plan, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

In this naked word, sin, our Lord brought to my mind all that is evil and shameful, and the utter wickedness which he bore for us both in his spirit and his body in the course of his life, passion, and death. All of this was showed me in a moment, for our good Lord did not desire to frighten me at this terrible sight.

Revelations of Divine Love

Timothy Keller

Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters (New York: Dutton, 2009)

Timothy Keller

I take a page from Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death and I define sin as building your identity—your self-worth and happiness—on anything other than God. Instead of telling them they are sinning because they are sleeping with their girlfriends or boyfriends, I tell them that they are sinning because they are looking to their careers and romances to save them, to give them everything that they should be looking for in God. This idolatry leads to drivenness, addictions, severe anxiety, obsessiveness, envy of others, and resentment.

Essay: “The Gospel for the City.”

Dorothy Sayers

Sin is a deep interior dislocation of the soul. It’s a desire to keep control of your life.

Eugene Peterson

When we sin and mess up our lives, we find that God doesn’t go off and leave us- he enters into our trouble and saves us.

Steven Wright

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Immanuel Kant

 Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.

Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose

Henry Fairlie

If we acknowledge that our inclination to sin is part of our natures, and that we will never wholly eradicate it, there is at least something for us to do in our lives that will not in the end seem just futile and absurd.

 The Seven Deadly Sins Today

Brennan Manning

Many of us pretend to believe we are sinners. Consequently all we can do is pretend to believe we have been forgiven. As a result, our whole spiritual life is pseudo repentance and pseudo bliss.

 The Ragamuffin Gospel

C.S. Lewis

And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin.

The Great Divorce

Peter Kreeft

 We sinned for no reason but an incomprehensible lack of love, and He saved us for no reason but an incomprehensible excess of love.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Nothing can be more cruel than that leniency which abandons others to their sin.

Timothy Keller

If I am in denial about my own weaknesses and sin, there will be a concomitant blindness to the greatness and glory of God.

 Prayer: Experiencing Awe & Intimacy with God

Eugene H. Peterson

Defilement is what sin does to us; damnation is what sin introduces as our eternal end. Except for God’s intervention. We have needs, and God addresses our needs. Even our sin, the most destructive reality of life—and the most foreign to God’s character—is met and overwhelmed by his coming to us.

Every Step an Arrival, The Crown Publishing Group.

Barbara Brown Taylor

Neither the language of medicine nor of law is adequate substitute for the language of [sin.] Contrary to the medical model, we are not entirely at the mercy of our maladies. The choice is to enter into the process of repentance. Contrary to the legal model, the essence of sin is not [primarily] the violation of laws but a wrecked relationship with God, one another, and the whole created order. “All sins are attempts to fill voids,” wrote Simone Weil. Because we cannot stand the God-shaped hole inside of us, we try stuffing it full of all sorts of things, but only God may fill [it].

Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation, Cowley

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Nothing can be more cruel than that leniency which abandons others to their sin.

Robert Louis Stevenson

 At the very moment of that vain-glorious thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering…I looked down…I was once more Edward Hyde.

 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

John Stott

 The essence of sin is we human beings substituting ourselves for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for us. We…put ourselves where only God deserves to be; God…puts himself where we deserve to be.

 The Cross of Christ, InterVarsity Press

Timothy Keller

Sin is looking to something else besides God for your salvation. It is putting yourself in the place of God, becoming your own savior and lord, as it were.

Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions, Penguin Publishing Group.

Stanley Hauerwas

Nothing enslaves more than that which we think we cannot live without.

Matthew, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, Brazos Press, 2006.

Sam Alberry

The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be, God sacrifices himself for man & puts himself where only man deserves to be.

 From Twitter, 5:41 AM – 19 Nov 2018

Handley Moule

 The harlot, the liar, the murderer, are short of it [sc. God’s glory]; but so are you. Perhaps they stand at the bottom of a mine, and you on the crest of an Alp; but you are as little able to touch the stars as they.

 The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Cambridge University Press.

Glen Scrivener

 The next time you say something deceitful, hurtful or proud, you cannot say “I don’t know what came over me.” Nothing came over you. Such sins come outof you. They come from a wellspring that is very dark, very deep and very old. You know it. We all feel it. Adam explains it

Long Story Short: The Bible in 12 Phrases, Christian Focus Publication.

Vaughan Roberts

The tower of Babel is a vivid symbol of our sinful desire to exalt ourselves and create our own kingdom independently of God.

Taken from God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts. ©2003 by Vaughan Roberts.  Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL  60515-1426. www.ivpress.com

Dave Miller

“What’s wrong with me is me. Somebody needs to pull me from the raging waters I call ‘me.’

Julian of Norwich

Our courteous Lord does not want his servants to despair because they fall often and grievously; for our falling does not hinder him in loving us.

Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, Penguin, 1966.


Oscar A. Romero

The church must suffer for speaking the truth, for pointing out sin, for uprooting sin. No one wants to have a sore spot touched, and therefore a society with so many sores twitches when someone has the courage to touch it and say: “You have to treat that. You have to get rid of that. Believe in Christ. Be converted.

The Violence of Love

James Denney

This separateness from sinners is not a little, but a stupendous thing; it is the presupposition of redemption; it is that very virtue in Christ without which he would not be qualified to be a Saviour, but would, like us, need to be saved.

Studies in Theology, Hodder and Stoughton, 9th edition, 1906, p. 41.

Studdert Kennedy

It is not finished, Lord,

There is not one thing done,

There is no battle of my life

That I have really won.

And now I come to tell thee

How I fought to fail,

My human, all too human, tale

Of weakness and futility.

G.K. Chesterton

[I]f we chose to project the human figure forward out of an unhuman world, we could only say that one of the animals had obviously gone mad.

The Everlasting Man, p 52

G.K. Chesterton

The fact [is] that original sin is really original. Not merely in theology but in history it is a thing rooted in the origins. Whatever else men have believed, they have all believed that there is something the matter with mankind. This sense of sin has made it impossible to be natural and have no clothes, just has it has made it impossible to be natural and have no laws.

The Everlasting Man, p 53

Augustine of Hippo

The punishment of sin, is sin.

C.S. Lewis

It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into nothing. Murder is no better than lies if lying does the trick.

The Screwtape Letters

Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, more loved and welcomed than I ever dared hope.

Simone Weil

Every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness.

Gravity and Grace

Timothy Keller

Sin is a suicidal action of the will upon itself. It is like taking an addicting drug. At first it may feel wonderful, but every time it gets harder to not do it again.

The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy (New York: Viking, 2018, p.26).

Karl Menninger

The clergyman cannot minimize sin and maintain his proper role in our culture’ (p.198). For sin is ‘an implicitly aggressive quality – a ruthlessness, a hurting, a breaking away from God and from the rest of humanity, a partial alienation, or act of rebellion….Sin has a willful, defiant or disloyal quality: someone is defied or offended or hurt’

Whatever Became of Sin?, p.19.

John Stott

The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for Man.

The Cross of Christ, 20th Anniversary Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 159.

Martin Luther

Thus, we must regard baptism and put it to use in such a way that we may draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and say: ‘But I am baptized! And if I have been baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.

The Large Catechism,” in The Book of Concord (1580), ed. Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000), pt. 4, §44 (462).

James Bryan Smith

God is against my sin because he is for me. 

Charles Spurgeon

This day, my God, I hate sin not because it damns me, but because it has done Thee wrong. To have grieved my God is the worst grief to me.

Brett Hansen

“I’m not a good person” is a shockingly countercultural thing to say. We all want to think we’re “clean” and that we’ve avoided whatever “big sins” are on our own personal lists. But we trust ourselves too much. We are inconsistent. We don’t even live up to our own stated beliefs. (Just think about all the things you’ve faulted others for.

The Truth about Us: The Very Good News about How Very Bad We Are, Baker Publishing Group.

Malcolm Muggeridge

The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality, but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.

Erroll Hulse

Postmodernism (the thinking of our age) is fiercely antinomian (without law).  It is admitted that people make mistakes, but the word ‘sin’ is seldom mentioned and the idea that we all sin against God is avoided.  Right and wrong are judged according to human feelings.  The idea that God has an unchangeable holy moral law by which he will judge every person is unpopular.

Who Are the Puritans, Evangelical Press, p. 15.

Karl Barth

We are forbidden to take sin more seriously than grace, or even as seriously as grace.

Church Dogmatics, vol. 3, bk. 2, trans. Harold Knight, G. W. Bromiley, J. K. S. Reid, and R. H. Fuller (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1960), 41.

W. David O. Taylor

The psalmist describes the experience of “keeping silent” about sin as a kind of disintegration. His bones turn to powder (Ps. 32:3). His energy dissipates, “the very pith of my body decomposed as if baked in the summer heat.”

The Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life, Thomas Nelson, 2020.

Chuck DeGroat

The early church fathers named the primary sin patterns “passions,” borrowing a Latin term that could also be translated “sufferings ” As we live out a unique pattern or “face” of sin, we begin to think the face is our own.

Taken from When Narcissism Comes to Church by Chuck DeGroat Copyright (c) 2020 by Chuck DeGroat. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Shusaku Endo

“Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.”

Silence: A Novel

Søren Kierkegaard

Sin is a position which out of itself develops a more and more positive continuity. . . .Sin grows every instant one does not get out of it.

The Sickness Unto Death

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Myself unholy, from myself unholy to the sweet living of my friends I look—eye-greeting doves bright-counter to the rook, fresh sand to salt sand-teasing waters shoaly:—and they are purér, but alas! not solely the unquestion’d readings of a blotless book. And so my trust, confused, struck, and shook yields to the sultry siege of melancholy. He has a sin of mine, he its near brother; knowing them well I can but see the fall. This fault in one I found, that in another: and so, though each have one while I have all, no better serves me now, save best; no other Save Christ: to Christ I look, on Christ I call/

Taken from Hopkins: Poems (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series), Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.  

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our illustrations page on Sin. 

Follow us on social media: