Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

We have:

  • Good - Evil
  • Love - Hate
  • Virtue - Vice
  • Bless - Curse
  • Righteous - Wicked
  • Obedience - Disobedience
  • _____? - Sin

I don't mean sin as a general disposition, or original sin. I mean a deed contrary to God's eternal law:

  • Sin is an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law (St. Augustine, Faust 22:PL 42, 418). It is an offense against God. It rises up against God in a disobedience contrary to the obedience of Christ. Sin is an act contrary to reason. It wounds man's nature and injures human solidarity. (The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1871,-1872)

  • Sin is the breaking of God's law. (CARM, What is sin?)

  • Sin is nothing else than a morally bad act (St. Thomas, "De malo", 7:3), an act not in accord with reason informed by the Divine law. (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Sin)

What are those things that are done in accordance with God's will, reason, and eternal Law? Would we call these acts of obedience? sacrifice? praise? Are they discussed specifically?

Please note: I'm not asking for anyone to coin an antonym for sin. I'm not asking for examples of individual acts that count as "not being sins". I'd like to know if the Bible or any well-established teaching deals with this sort of deed, and what such deeds might be called. I am not claiming that performing such deeds will grant anyone salvation, that discussion may be set aside. Also, please don't just say something like "the opposite of sin is love" unless there's a good explanation: I'm not asking for dynamic non-equivalence.


Edit: The answer should make it obvious (somewhere) what is the most appropriate way to fill in the following blanks using a single term or concept, and also why (theologically) that term is best:

  • What Cain did was a sin, but what Joseph did was a _____
  • Offering up a sacrifice, visiting someone in prison, and praying are all examples of _____
  • _____ is an utterance, a deed, or a desire in accord with the eternal law.
  • _____ is the keeping of God's law.
  • _____ is nothing more than a morally good act, an act in accord with reason informed by the Divine law.

What is the opposite of sin? When someone does something good, what do I call that?

share|improve this question
1  
So, you're looking for a verb that is "the opposite" of to sin? –  svidgen Mar 12 '13 at 18:04
    
@svidgen It would be a noun, though often (not always) the verb would suggest the noun. "Billy threw a ball, that was a good ²throw." It doesn't have to be a single word, of course. It should be clear how the term or concept could be used as a noun in a normal conversation with another religious person. –  Alypius Mar 13 '13 at 17:42

5 Answers 5

Sin comes from the Greek Hamartia, which carries with it the idea of an archer missing his mark. The opposite of that would be to hit the mark- to succeed.

I would argue thus that obedience would be the opposite of sin, as it "hits the mark" to which we aim.

Alternatively, telos - the purpose or aim for which we are destined would be pretty good too.

Augustine in particular was well known for describing evil as not a thing in and of itself, but rather as a lack of good. It is the lack of substance to the thing that is its nature, not an essence of its own. The same could be said of sin - that it is a lack of the nature of God's desire for us that characterisizes Sin. As such, the opposite of Sin would be the nature of God evident in the life of the person in question.

And, btw, it totally is fair to say that the opposite of Sin is love- for as Jesus himself said, "if you love me, keep my commandments."

share|improve this answer
    
I like this. Obedience to God is righteous and disobedience to God is sin. I think I will use that myself from now on. +1 –  fredsbend Mar 12 '13 at 6:38

In order to know what the opposite of sin is, we must first understand what sin itself is. Sin is defined as a violation of God's law or rebellion against God or His moral purity.

1 John 3:4 (KJV)

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

The opposite of sin is, then, the state of obedience to God's law, acknowledgement of His rule, and conformity to His moral purity.

So, basically, we choose either to sin or not to sin, to violate God's law or be obedient to God's law, to rebel against God or recognize Him as God, to act in impurity or in purity or in righteousness.

share|improve this answer
4  
I think the word you are looking for is righteousness. –  fredsbend Mar 11 '13 at 21:26
    
^ the direct opposite of righteousness is wickedness, though (see question). The linked definition: "acting in accord", not "action in accord". From the question "things that are done in accordance with God's will, reason, and eternal Law". Any reason to prefer purity over obedience, or sacrifice, or reason, or praise? What is the term used to describe individual acts of this nature? –  Alypius Mar 11 '13 at 23:36
    
@Alypius Where wickedness is practically synonymous with sinfulness. I think the answer is obvious. To sin or not to sin (to paraphrase that famous bard). Really a matter of semantics what you want to call it, imo. –  fredsbend Mar 12 '13 at 6:35
    
@fredsbend Why not give an answer? Just quote the definition you linked, Sin(fulness) - Righteousness, and the opposite of a sin is a righteous act (or an act of righteousness). See the definition of "semantics", since this question is a matter of semantics. –  Alypius Mar 12 '13 at 16:29
    
Sin is the "isolation from God"... hence the opposite of sin is "being with God" –  txwikinger Mar 12 '13 at 20:45

If certain deeds are sins because they are done in disobedience of God's law, then one plausible suggestion is that Faith is the opposite of Sin:

Faith is the root of obedience; the lack of faith is the root of disobedience. If we totally believed that obedience always worked to our blessedness, we would not disobey. Only because we must pray “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief” do we sin.

Saint Paul contrasts faith with sin when he says, “Whatever is not of faith is sin." We usually think of sin as the opposite of virtue, and faith as the opposite of doubt. But virtue is a moral term, and doubt is an intellectual term. The opposite of moral virtue is moral vice, and the opposite of intellectual doubt is intellectual belief. Faith is deeper than either moral virtue or intellectual belief. Sin is deeper than either moral vice or intellectual doubt. Faith is a fundamental Yes to God with the center of our being, and sin — the state of sin as distinct from particular acts of sin — is the fundamental No to God with the center of our being. Faith is the opposite of sin. Faith is to sin what light is to darkness.

This is talking about sin and faith as "states", distinct from particular acts. By analogy with "acts of sin", we have "acts of faith". Particular sins result from sin in general and original sin (the disobedience of Adam and Eve). Likewise, particular "acts of faith" result from faith. One passage in the Bible that discusses these acts is James 2:14-26, and it refers to these as "works":

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

  • Life -> breath, pulse, etc.
  • Sin -> individual sins
  • Faith -> acts of faith

Each sin comes from Original Sin, and each act of faith or good work comes from Faith.

share|improve this answer

For the verb which opposes to sin, the Catholic answer is to obey. More specifically, to sin in the general religious sense opposes to obey God the Father.

Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.” Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,” knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.” In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1850)

This form of to obey is equivalent to to love, which in Catholicism is understood as to seek the good of the other as other.

The corresponding noun then is obedience [to God] or agape/love.


For your second set of fill-in-the blanks ...

To obey [God] is less ambiguous, but also less "full" I think:

  • What Cain did was a sin, but what Joseph did was obeying [God] / an act of obedient [to God].
  • Offering up a sacrifice, visiting someone in prison, and praying are all examples of obeying [God].
  • Obedience [to God] is an utterance, a deed, or a desire in accord with the eternal law.
  • Obedience [to God] is the keeping of God's law.
  • Obedience [to God] is nothing more than a morally good act, an act in accord with reason informed by the Divine law.

To love is fuller in meaning when properly understood, I think.

  • What Cain did was a sin, but what Joseph did was to love / an act of love.
  • Offering up a sacrifice, visiting someone in prison, and praying are all examples of love.
  • Love is an utterance, a deed, or a desire in accord with the eternal law.
  • Love is the keeping of God's law.
  • Love is nothing more than a morally good act, an act in accord with reason informed by the Divine law.
share|improve this answer

Under the new covenant. I would think that "Not accepting Jesus" as sin.

It is blasphemous to say that He cannot forgive me of such and such act. Nothing is impossible for Him to forgive, except we accept Him and His sacrifice.

or I think I understood your question wrong.

share|improve this answer
    
I am not asking for "individual acts that count as not sins" (see question). You're listing an act that is a sin. The question is asking for the opposite. –  Alypius Mar 11 '13 at 21:57
    
@Alypius you are right. –  r3s3arch3r777 Mar 11 '13 at 22:30

protected by Affable Geek Mar 13 '13 at 18:49

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.