What is the difference between a sin and a transgression?

To sin is to do something contrary to the will of the Lord. It is to be willfully disobedient.  Transgression, on the other hand, is the violation of a law or rule that may or may not be against the will of the Lord. Thus, all sins are transgressions but not all transgressions are sins.

Sin is breaking a law with knowledge that a law is being broken. Adam didn’t have knowledge of good and evil before partaking of the forbidden fruit, so his act was a transgression of the law, not a sin against the law.

The Bible clearly notes a difference between sin and transgression

–          Psalms 25:7 -> “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.”

–          Joshua 24:19 -> “And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.”

The first mention of sin in the Bible is in regards to Cain.

Genesis 4:6-7 -> “And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”

Adam and Eve’s partaking of the forbidden fruit is referred to as transgression.

Romans 5:14 -> “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”

11 Replies to “What is the difference between a sin and a transgression?”

  1. Hi Joey,

    I did a post on this topic last week and I talked about how these words (sin and transgression) are used interchangeably in scriptures such as Romans 5. Also, 1 John 3:4 says “sin is the transgression of the law.” I also took a look at these words in the Greek and, especially at Romans 5 that identifies Adam’s transgression as a sin.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts about my post:


  2. hello,
    Thanks for having it clear about the difference between sin and transgression.Im a member from philippines and also an RM.Thanks and Godbless.

  3. Thank you for this posting. I was in Sunday school today when the question was raised about the difference between sin and transgression. I and my lass found this to Beverly informative.
    Thanks again

  4. Thank you, for you post I just wanted to point out how the context of one of your quotes helpfully illuminates a little more about the difference between sin and transgression.

    In Rom. 5:16 two verses after the one you quoted it calls the Adam’s action sin.
    14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

    15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

    16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

    See these verses are comparing the Sin/disobedience/offence/transgression of Adam with the obedience/righteous act/free gift of Christ. All men in Adam die and are condemned (vs. 12,18) but praise be to God all men in Christ by faith will certainly live eternally (vs.20) and are righteous because of Christ(vs. 19).

    So sin is not identical to transgression the people between Adam and Moses Sinned but did not Transgress but Adam sinned and transgressed. Transgression is the disobedience of the clear command given verbally and or written from God. God told Adam not to eat and God through Moses gave the Law written. Sin disobeys God but it can be disobedience of the Law on our heart. (Rom. 2:15 which show the work of the law written in their hearts,).

    GOD Bless thank you for your post I enjoyed reading it and found it interesting,

    All Scripture references were taken from http://www.lds.org/scriptures

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