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Sin, in religious traditions, is an act that violates a known moral rule. The term may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation, and is often simply used to signify an action that is prohibited or considered wrong by some person or group of people; in some religious or social traditions, sin can refer not only to physical actions taken, but also to thoughts and internalized motivations and feelings. Colloquially, any thought, word, or act considered immoral, shameful, harmful, or alienating might be termed "sinful".


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  • All sin tends to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation.
    • W. H. Auden, A Certain World : A Commonplace Book (1970)
  • I have committed the worst sin of all
    That a man can commit.
    I have not been Happy.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, "Remorse" [El remordimiento], as translated in Jorge Luis Borges : Conversations (1998) by Richard Burgin, p. 140
    • Paraphrased variant: I have committed the worst sin that can be committed. I have not been happy.
  • By our sinful falls - the powers of the soul are weakened; the strength of grace is decayed; our evidences for heaven are blotted; fears and doubts in the soul are raised (will God once more pardon this scarlet sin, and show mercy to this wretched soul?); the corruptions in the heart are more advantaged and confirmed; and the conscience of a man after falls is the more enraged or the more benumbed.
  • Compound for sins they are inclin'd to,
    By damning those they have no mind to.
  • He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it, is a saint; that boasteth of it, is a devil.
    • Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Profane State (1642), Of Self-Praising.
  • Old sinne makes newe shame.
  • The aim of the law is not to punish sins, but is to prevent certain external results.
  • Her rash hand in evil hour
    Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck'd, she eat;
    Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
    Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe
    That all was lost.
  • Law can discover sin, but not remove,
    Save by those shadowy expiations weak.
  • But the trail of the serpent is over them all.
    • Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh (1817), Paradise and the Peri, line 206.
  • When I look back upon my life
    It's always with a sense of shame
    I've always been the one to blame
    For everything I long to do
    No matter where or when or who
    Has one thing in common too;
    It's a — it's a — it's a — it's a sin!
  • If it were possible to have a life absolutely free from every feeling of sin, what a terrifying vacuum it would be!
  • How shall I lose the sin yet keep the sense,
    And love th' offender, yet detest the offence?
  • See sin in state, majestically drunk;
    Proud as a peeress, prouder as a punk.
  • David Mills: Wait, I thought all you did was kill innocent people.
    John Doe: Innocent? Is that supposed to be funny? An obese man … a disgusting man who could barely stand up; a man who if you saw him on the street, you'd point him out to your friends so that they could join you in mocking him; a man, who if you saw him while you were eating, you wouldn't be able to finish your meal. After him, I picked the lawyer and I know you both must have been secretly thanking me for that one. This is a man who dedicated his life to making money by lying with every breath that he could muster to keeping murderers and rapists on the streets!
    David Mills: Murderers?
    John Doe: A woman …
    David Mills: Murderers, John, like yourself?
    John Doe [interrupts]: A woman … so ugly on the inside she couldn't bear to go on living if she couldn't be beautiful on the outside. A drug dealer, a drug dealing pederast, actually! And let's not forget the disease-spreading whore! Only in a world this shitty could you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that's the point. We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common, it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I'm setting the example. What I've done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed … forever.
  • Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
    And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
    Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw doth pierce it.
  • Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall;
    Some run from breaks of ice, and answer none:
    And some condemned for a fault alone.
  • Though some of you with Pilate wash your hands
    Showing an outward pity; yet you Pilates
    Have here deliver'd me to my sour cross,
    And water cannot wash away your sin.
  • It lies not in man's right nor in man's power truly to justify the guilty. This is a miracle reserved for the Lord alone. God, the infinitely just Sovereign, knows that there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not, and therefore, in the infinite sovereignty of His divine nature and in the splendor of His ineffable love, He undertakes the task, not so much of justifying the just as of justifying the ungodly. God has devised ways and means of making the ungodly man to stand justly accepted before Him: He has set up a system by which with perfect justice He can treat the guilty as if he had been all his life free from offence, yea, can treat him as if he were wholly free from sin. He justifieth the ungodly.
  • A sin takes on new and real terrors when there seems a chance that it is going to be found out. This gives it a fresh and most substantial and important aspect.
  • Moore: Cecile? I don't hear you praying, honey.
    Cecile: I don't wanna be a Catholic! I wanna be a Nethodist like Mommy!
    Moore: A—and why's that?
    Cecile: So I can pray whatever I want.
    Older Brother: That's a sin!
    Moore: Oh, no-no-no, that's not a sin. God just made you hard-headed. It's not a sin. Uh, I'll tell you what. You wanna, you wanna pray and thank God for our family?
    Cecile: Yes, sir.
    Moore: That's good. Well, then, let's do it.
    Moore & kids: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee...
    Hal Moore: I can hear you laughing, you know, even in here.
    Julie Moore: I'm not laughing, I'm marveling.
    Hal: Marveling? At what?
    Julie: That you can find stubbornness in your children and think it comes from anybody but you.
  • Past sins, if you repent of them, whiten you. They made a great psalmist out of David, a faithful believer out of the prostitute Rahab, a zealous apostle out of the persecutor Saul. I have been a loved preacher and writer with a particular vocation. My sermons and books would not have had the same quality without my past of anarchy, vice, and violent atheism.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 720-12.
  • I waive the quantum o' the sin,
    The hazard of concealing:
    But, och! it hardens a' within,
    And petrifies the feeling!
  • But, sad as angels for the good man's sin,
    Weep to record, and blush to give it in.
  • Sin let loose speaks punishment at hand.
  • Come, now again, thy woes impart,
    Tell all thy sorrows, all thy sin;
    We cannot heal the throbbing heart
    Till we discern the wounds within.
  • I couldn't live in peace if I put the shadow of a wilful sin between myself and God.
    • George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (1860), Book VI, Chapter XIV.
  • Das Uebel macht eine Geschichte und das Gute keine.
    • Sin writes histories, goodness is silent.
    • Goethe. See Riemer, Mittheilungen über Goethe, II. 9. 1810.
  • Man-like is it to fall into sin,
    Fiend-like is it to dwell therein,
    Christ-like is it for sin to grieve,
    God-like is it all sin to leave.
  • Dens propitius esto mihi peccatori.
    • God be merciful to me a sinner.
    • Luke, XVIII. 13. Vulgate.
  • Nor custom, nor example, nor vast numbers
    Of such as do offend, make less the sin.
  • In Adam's fall—
    We sinned all.
    • New England Primer (1814).
  • Young Timothy
    Learnt sin to fly.
    • New England Primer (1777).
  • Di faciles, peccasse semel concedite tuto:
    Id satis est. Pœnam culpa secunda ferat.
    • Indulgent gods, grant me to sin once with impunity. That is sufficient. Let a second offence bear its punishment.
    • Ovid, Amorum (16 BC), Book II. 14. 43.
  • Cui peccare licet peccat minus. Ipsa potestas
    Semina nequitiæ languidiora facit.
    • He who has it in his power to commit sin, is less inclined to do so. The very idea of being able, weakens the desire.
    • Ovid, Amorum (16 BC), III. 4. 9.
  • Si quoties homines peccant sua fulmina mittat
    Jupiter, exiguo tempore inermis erit.
    • If Jupiter hurled his thunderbolt as often as men sinned, he would soon be out of thunderbolts.
    • Ovid, Tristium, II. 33.
  • Palam mutire plebeio piaculum est.
    • It is a sin for a plebeian to grumble in public.
    • Phaedrus, Fables, III. Epilogue. 34.
  • My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
    • Proverbs. I. 10.
  • The way of transgressors is hard.
    • Proverbs, XIII. 15.
  • The wages of sin is death.
    • Romans, VI. 23.
  • Aliena vitia in oculis habemus; a tergo nostra sunt.
    • Other men's sins are before our eyes; our own behind our backs.
    • Seneca, De Ira, II. 28.
  • Magna pars hominum est, quæ non peccatis irascitur sed peccantibus.
    • The greater part of mankind are angry with the sinner and not with the sin.
    • Seneca, Da Ira, II. 28.
  • Omnes mali sumus. Quidquid itaque in alio reprehenditur, id unusquisque in suo sinu inveniet.
    • We are all sinful. Therefore whatever we blame in another we shall find in our own bosoms.
    • Seneca, De Ira, III. 26.
  • Sin is a state of mind, not an outward act.
  • They say sin touches not a man so near
    As shame a woman; yet he too should be
    Part of the penance, being more deep than she
    Set in the sin.
  • To abstain from sin when a man cannot sin is to be forsaken by sin, not to forsake it.
    • Jeremy Taylor, Works, Volume VII, p. 206. Eden's Ed. Rendering of St. Augustine, Sermon CCXCIII De Pœnitentibus.
  • Nec tibi celandi spes sit peccare paranti;
    Est deus, occultos spes qui vetat esse dolos.
    • When thou art preparing to commit a sin, think not that thou wilt conceal it; there is a God that forbids crimes to be hidden.
    • Tibullus, Carmina, I. 9. 23.
  • But he who never sins can little boast
    Compared to him who goes and sins no more!

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)Edit

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • Though sin may be in the Christian, yet it hath no more dominion over him; he hath an unfeigned respect to all God's commandments, making conscience even of little sins and little duties.
  • Sin is the insurrection and rebellion of the heart against God; it turns from Him, and turns against Him; it takes up arms against God.
  • Presumption has many forms; and it is worth considering, whether a great and good Being would most disapprove the presumption which expected too much from His goodness, or the presumption which dared positively to disbelieve His promise.
  • The slave who digs in the mine or labors at the oar can rejoice at the prospect of laying down his burden together with his life; but to the slave of guilt there arises no hope from death. On the contrary, he is obliged to look forward with constant terror to this most certain of all events, as the conclusion of all his hopes, and the commencement of his greatest miseries.
  • There is the seed of all sins — of the vilest and worst of sins — in the best of men.
  • Sin works by no set methods. It has a way of ruin for every man, that is original and proper only to himself. Suffice it to say that, as long as you are in and under its power, you can never tell what you are in danger of. This one thing you may have as a truth eternally fixed, that respectable sin is, in principle, the mother of all basest crime. Follow it on to the bitter end, and there is ignominy eternal.
  • Sin, without strong restraints, would pull God from His throne, make the world the minion of its lusts, and all beings bow down and worship.
  • Sin is an awful fact. It beggars description. Like the shirt of Nessus, it burns one alive. As that poisoned garment ate away the muscles of the victim in his vain attempt to rid himself of it, so sin will destroy the power of him who becomes its victim. Eternal death is eternal sin; sin through all the ages.
  • To please ourselves with a notion of gospel liberty, while we have not a gospel principle of holiness within to free us from the power of sin, is nothing else but to gild over our bonds and fetters, and to fancy ourselves the inmates of a golden cage. There is a straitness, slavery, and narrowness in sin; sin crowds and crumples up our souls which, if they were freely spread abroad, would. be as wide and as broad as the whole universe. No man is truly free, but he that has his will enlarged to the extent of God's own will, by loving whatever God loves, and nothing else.
  • Misery follows sin; sin itself is misery; and the soul that sinneth dies of course, without any means taken to put that soul to death; though Divine interference would be indispensable to prevent the consequences following the cause.
  • Sin! Sin! Thou art a hateful and horrible thing, that abominable thing which God hates. And what wonder? Thou hast insulted His holy majesty; thou hast bereaved Him of beloved children; thou hast crucified the Son of His infinite love; thou hast vexed His gracious Spirit; thou hast defied His power; thou hast despised His grace; and in the body and blood of Jesus, as if that were a common thing, thou hast trodden under foot His matchless mercy. Surely, brethren, the wonder of wonders is, that sin is not that abominable thing which we also hate.
  • Remember that every guilty compliance with the humors of the world, every sinful indulgence of our own passions, is laying up cares and fears for the hour of darkness; and that the remembrance of ill-spent time will strew our sick-bed with thorns, and rack our sinking spirits with despair.
  • He that avoideth not small faults, by little and little falleth into greater.
  • St. Augustine used to say that, but for God's grace, he should have been capable of committing any crime; and it is when we feel this sincerely, that we are most likely to be really improving, and best able to give assistance to others without moral loss to ourselves.
  • Sin is essentially a departure from God.
  • I learn the depth to which I have sunk from the length of the chain let down to up-draw me. I ascertain the mightiness of the ruin by examining the machinery for restoration.
  • He that hath slight thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God.
  • God, save us from ourselves! We carry within us the elements of hell if we but choose to make them such. Ahaz, Judas, Nero, Borgia, Herod, all were once prattling infants in happy mother's arms.
  • No sin is small. It is a sin against an infinite God, and may have consequences immeasurable. No grain of sand is small in the mechanism of a watch.
  • The fact is that sin is the most unmanly thing in God's world. You never were made for sin and selfishness. You were made for love and obedience.
  • There are burdens which are bad and blameworthy, and these it is our duty at once to cast away. Such a burden is the evil conscience, from which the true deliverance is the cross of Christ; such a burden is the easily besetting sin, from which the sanctifying Spirit sets free the vigilant and prayerful Christian.
  • Yes, every sin is a mistake, and the epitaph for the sinner is, "Thou fool."
  • Every burning tear, every harrowing fear, every festering grief, every corroding care, every shooting pain, every piercing remorse; the sighs and moans of lazar-houses reeking with putrefaction and death; the shrieks and wails and clanking chains in hospitals swarming with maniacs; and the curses and blasphemies of dungeons where guilt rots and raves — these, all these, are but feeble reverberations of those dismal truths, " Sin reigns unto death." " Death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
  • That is the bitterest of all, — to wear the yoke of our own wrong-doing.
  • And O when the whirlwind of passion is raging,
    When sin in our hearts its wild warfare is waging,
    Then send down Thy grace, Thy redeemed to cherish;
    Rebuke the destroyer; "Save, Lord, or we perish."
  • Secret sins commonly lie nearest the heart.
  • The sin that now rises to memory as your bosom sin, let this f1rst of all be withstood and mastered. Oppose it instantly by a detestation of it, by a firm will to conquer it, by reflection, by reason, and by prayer.
  • Though the scorpion be little, yet will it sting a lion to death; and so will the least sin the sinner, unless pardoned by the blood of Christ.
  • Nature has no promise for society, least of all, any remedy for sin.
  • You cannot stay the shell in its flight; after it has left the mortar, it goes on to its mark, and there explodes, dealing destruction all around. Just as little can you stay the consequences of a sin after it has been committed. You may repent of it, you may even be forgiven for it, but still it goes on its deadly and desolating way. It has passed entirely beyond your reach; once done, it cannot be undone.
  • Sin is to be overcome, not so much by maintaining a direct opposition to it, as by cultivating opposite principles. Would you kill the weeds in your garden, plant it with good seed; if the ground be well occupied, there will be less need of the labor of the hoe. If a man wished to quench fire, he might fight it with his hands till he was burnt to death; the only way is to apply an opposite element.
  • The deliberate and habitual practice of any form of dishonesty or immorality is impossible to one who follows Christ.
  • A believer is far more apt to be burdened with a sense of sin, and to feel the fear of it in his own character than an unbeliever; because if we are carried along the stream we fear nothing, and it is only when we strive against it, that its progress and power are discernible.
  • If, in proportion as our minds are enlarged, our hearts purified, and our consciences cultivated, our abhorrence of wrong and aversion to it increases, what must be the moral indignation of the infinite and holy God against wrong-doers?
  • As for our own faults, it would take a large slate to hold the account of them; but, thank God, we know where to take them, and how to get the better of them.
  • When a sinner has any just sense of his condition, as alienated from a holy God, he will not be apt to think of the unpardonable sin.

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